Nestled in Northern California’s Redwood National Park, the Requa Inn boasts a stunning location in Yurok homelands where the Klamath River meets the Pacific Ocean. Overlooking California’s second-largest river, this Arts & Crafts–style inn lies in a natural wonderland within a mile of the Pacific Ocean surrounded by towering coastal redwoods.
Built in 1914 and renovated in 2010, the Requa's 13 upscale-rooms feature en suite bathrooms, complimentary Wi-Fi, and are phone-and-TV free. Amenities include freshly baked cookies, a sunroom with fireplace, a hot tub and riverside gazebo, plus discounts on hot breakfast served in the restaurant. Some rooms include river views, clawfoot tubs and sofa beds. “
The House of Ley’equw is my family house, located at the mouth of the Klamath River on Requa Hill,” says co-owner Janet Bowers Wortman, a Yurok grandmother of five. “This is where my maternal family came from since time began. When my husband Marty and I became empty-nesters, we looked for the most important place we could find—coming back to the Yurok Reservation was the perfect spot. Marty always said the space between heaven and earth is the thinnest on Requa Hill.
“We’d driven by the Requa for 50 years and often thought how wonderful it would be to own a piece of the Inn. In 2010 we were able to achieve that goal with assistance from our daughter, Geneva, and our son-in-law, Reweti, who is Maori from New Zealand. Within a year, our son, Thomas, moved down from Portland to become our Executive Chef. So for the first time in 160 years, the property and the Inn are owned entirely by Yurok Tribal members. We’re very proud of that!”
Chef Thomas quickly earned a reputation for his unique spin on traditional Yurok recipes using organic, locally harvested ingredients. With a prime fishing hole out front, Thomas often harvests fresh salmon for dinner guests, pairing meals with favorite regional wines and local brews. In 2010, the Requa earned a Fodor’s Choice distinction from Fodor’s Travel.
The Yurok Tribe’s fight to maintain traditional fishing rights are rooted in Jan’s family. “In 1973, my uncle, Raymond Mattz, won the United States Supreme Court case Mattz vs. Arnett et.al, allowing the Yuroks to continue using our Creator-given rights to commercial fishing in the Klamath River. When we pull a 30-lb. salmon over the side of a drift boat and untangle it from a gill net, it is not just our hands, but the hands of our grandfathers and great-grandfathers that bring that fish into the boat,” she said.
Before buying the Inn as a family, Jan worked in finance as one of only two stockbrokers in Medford, Oregon in the 1980s. She also directed the Community Development Funding Corporation, a non-profit lending arm of the Yurok Indian Housing Association. Thomas and Geneva both earned degrees in Public Policy from the University of Oregon in Eugene, and helped pay for college by returning home in summers to commercial fish in the Klamath.
“They would stay at Grandma Geneva's house, which was built by her grandfather Billy Brooks in 1902, predating the Inn by two years. We learned Yurok hospitality from my grandmother, Geneva Brooks Mattz. It’s a natural part of the Yurok way of life to warmly welcome visitors. The main complaint we get is that guests didn’t book their stay long enough. There’s so much to see and do here.”
In the Requa's off-season, November through April, the Inn is available for private parties, family reunions, board meetings, or fun get-aways with favorite friends. “We’ve had a lot of different groups who visit for a week at a time for photography, hiking and fishing. We even had a knitting group who learned Yurok basketweaving along with their knitting skills.”
Not far from the Requa, the Yurok’s sacred rock, Oregos, overlooks the Pacific at the mouth of the Klamath. Oregos is a spiritual helper who cares for the Yurok by telling the fish when to leave the ocean and head upriver. Each year Oregos guides the smelt and candlefish upriver where the Yurok people net them. In the spring, she sends up the cutthroat trout, in May the giant sturgeon. Then in July, she calls in the King salmon. August is the steelhead run, followed by silver salmon.
“We are so fortunate to live in and share this sacred place,” says Jan. “We are surrounded by love and gifts from the Creator.”— Janet Bowers Wortman, as told to Valerie Taliman
451 Requa Rd
Klamath, CA 95548