The first thing to know about Oregon’s Steamboat Inn is that there are no steamboats, just the splashing, tumbling North Umpqua River rushing by your rustic-chic cabin and fly fishermen casting their lines upstream.
The historic inn is named for nearby Steamboat Creek, which also has no steamboats. Legend has it that the name refers not to vessels but to vamoose-ing. Back in the 19th century, miners who sold their lode-less claims as something loftier were well advised to beat a hasty retreat — to steamboat away — before the new owners discovered their deceit.
What began as a riverbank fishing camp became the Steamboat Inn 65 years ago. Today, it provides all the retreat you need from the workaday world and plenty of tales to boot — of famous anglers and environmentalists, an opera singer and a millionaire reporter (inherited, not salaried, we hasten to add) whose chauffeur helped him cover his beat. Zane Grey was a frequent guest. So was Ernest Hemingway’s son. And steelhead fishing is still king.
THE ROOMS: The inn offers a variety of lodging options, including suites, Hideaway Cottages in the woods, Campwater Houses for larger groups and River View Cottages, cozy accommodations for two with shared balconies offering plenty of splashy spectacle.
Knotty pine paneling covers the walls in the River View rooms, a gas fireplace adds warmth and comfortable king beds, the sound of rushing water and the absence of Wi-Fi, phones and TV promise sweet slumber.
THE SPLASHES: The North Umpqua River just upstream from the inn is a fishing paradise — “the greatest stretch of summer steelhead water in the United States,” according to Jack Hemingway, an avid fisherman in his day. It’s all catch-and-release, so you won’t find hyper-local wild fish on the inn’s restaurant menu — the delicious house-smoked steelhead on the breakfast Benedicts was caught on Oregon’s Columbia River. But you can spend the day fly fishing with local guides and there are rafting, kayaking and waterfall hiking options nearby.
EXTRAS: The Steamboat Restaurant, which is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., offers breakfast Benedicts and other eggy options ($12-$17) for breakfast, burgers and sandwiches ($12-$17) for lunch, and high-end fare ($30-$42) for dinner. Think black truffle ravioli and pan-roasted tenderloin with chimichurri.
DETAILS: Rooms start at $220 per night. Find the inn and restaurant at 42705 North Umpqua Highway (Highway 138) in Idleyld Park; www.thesteamboatinn.com.
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