The amazing thing about the West Coast is that it is still mostly wild, open, and astoundingly beautiful country, where you can drive for miles and miles and have the scenery all to yourself.
Gold Beach was named for the nuggets mined from the area’s black sands during the mid-19th century. Despite its name, this is one coastal town where the action is definitely away from the beach. The Rogue River defines the northern city limits and is the town’s economic raison d’être. During salmon season, Gold Beach hotels and restaurants fill up with anglers, while jet-boat tours of the wild river are also a draw. Jerry’s Rogue Jets (29985 Harbor Way, 541/247-4571 or 800/451-3645, $55 and up adults), by the bridge at the north end of town, takes passengers upstream to the isolated hamlet of Agness, where a homespun mountain lodge (meals around $15) serves family-style fried-chicken lunches and dinners. Other trips head farther upstream to the Rogue River rapids and the roadless wilderness areas of the Siskiyou National Forest.
The usual motel rooms are available along US-101, but for a more memorable visit, try the Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge (96550 North Bank Rogue, 541/247-6664 or 800/864-6357, $160 and up). Set on a hill above the Rogue River, seven miles upstream from the coast, this upscale fishing lodge (pronounced “ta-TWO-tun”) has plushly rustic rooms and a great restaurant.