Exploring Southern Oregon: The Steamboat Inn
Idleyld Park, OR — It’s here that you’ll find the proverbial secluded cabin in the woods.
Albeit one with history, famous guests, a fabulous wine list, and homemade pies that truly tempt.
The Steamboat Inn sits perched on a bluff above the North Umpqua River in the middle of the Umpqua National Forest. It is a true mecca for fly-fishing, especially for steelhead.
Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn stayed here to do just that, as did Jack Hemingway. Just look for the framed black and white photos of them hanging in the lobby.
Step inside the bar-lounge-library to find a map of the world with pins affixed to indicate where guests have hailed from. Indeed, they’ve come from every state in the United States, as well as every continent, even Antarctica, when a group of scientists stayed here seeking some R&R.
From Roseberg, it’s a 38-mile drive to get here, a road flanked by majestic towering trees that take your breath away.
This secluded place is where you come to really get away from it all, as I found when I stayed here recently, courtesy of Travel Oregon.
The 60-year-old establishment is charmingly rustic with Big Foot memorabilia and zany socks for sale in the lobby. Just know that the Wi-Fi is slow and spotty. Also, the cabins don’t have TVs or A/C. But there is a portable fan to plug in to create a breeze. And thankfully, at least in June, the temperatures cool off at night.
We stayed in a cabin with a back porch overlooking the river. It came complete with a gift package of locally made toffee, as well as board games and a deck of cards for entertainment.
Chef Jameson Reinas, originally from Malibu, oversees the on-site restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
You may feel as if you’re in the middle of nowhere, but you’ll be able to order any cocktail you wish at the full bar. What’s more, the wine list is unexpectedly deep, featuring many selections from Umpqua Valley wineries. In fact, after visiting the Paul O’Brien Winery in Roseburg that afternoon, I was able to enjoy a glass of its refreshing rose that night at dinner.
There is seating inside, as well as on the back patio overlooking the river where the trees are strung with festive lights and shimmering crystals. It’s a lovely spot to dine, but just take care when the sun goes down and the mosquitoes come out in force.
Portions are very generous in size. For breakfast, there’s corned beef hash (with shredded, house-made corned beef brisket) served with two eggs and house-baked multi-grain bread that’s especially hearty and delicious.
Or go for the two ginormous fluffy, buttermilk pancakes ($10), like I did, that were the size of small pizzas.
Or indulge in a mega house-made cinnamon roll ($6), glazed and strewn with toffee bits, that could cover my entire hand. At dinner, you can even order one heaped with an actual ice cream sundae on top. Imagine finishing that!
On the savory side at dinner, there’s a thick and creamy hummus with naan and crudites ($14), a hefty kale Caesar salad, and a house-made soup of the day ($9) that might include a vegetable one that’s so loaded with big chunks of carrots and green beans that it’s almost a stew.
Follow that up with a very fine pan-fried steelhead with lemon-pepper asparagus on a bed of sun-dried tomato orzo ($40), and specials such as tenderloin tips over grilled gnocchi or a comforting beef ragu over pappardelle.
Then, of course, there are the pies, which are listed prominently on a blackboard daily just behind the front desk. The hardest part is nailing down which one you want to try, as there’s everything from blueberry, cherry, and apple to peach and something called “Forest Berry” that’s a mix of rhubarb, strawberry, apple and blackberry.
The fillings are loaded with fruit, and the crisp crust has the perfect pinch of salt to balance everything. You can tell these pies are freshly baked because the slices always come out a little crumbled on the plate. That just adds to their homey charm, of course.
At the Steamboat Inn, the draw may be the nearby fishing and the opportunity to unwind. But do yourself a favor and catch a slice — or two — of the very fine pie, too.