I think I’ve had a change of heart.
The Oregon coast isn’t a place we’ve spent much time exploring. We live in the Willamette Valley, known for rain and overcast days and the only place in Oregon that sees less sunshine than we do in Portland, is the beach. Enough said.
Sure, when the kids were little, we’d head down to the beach, buckets and shovels in hand, hoping to play in the sand, jump in the waves and bask in the sunshine. Reality was we’d be rained out, and if the sun did manage to break through the thick layer of clouds, we’d be wind (sand) blasted and head back inside, grateful for shelter from the elements – not the way I wanted to spend our days off. Therefore, we always headed east….where the sun shines over 300 days a year!
So, imagine my surprise two weeks ago when we decided to venture to the beach for a weekend of camping… totally expecting rain but pleasantly surprised by gorgeous weather and mild temperatures. We had such a great time in fact, that just two weeks later we decided to try another campground on the coast. We knew we were pushing our luck, but the thought of exploring somewhere new was enticing. I found a spot at Nehalem Bay State Park for the three day President’s Day weekend, and off we went in search of fun. We were not disappointed.
Apparently, Nehalem Bay is a very popular state park. In fact, I was told by a friend that camping spaces in the spring and summer are usually booked a year in advance. Good to know and glad we ventured out during the off season. We reserved, in our opinion, one of the very best spots in the park. All of the campsites are separated by pine trees, but there is not a lot of undergrowth, so the sites are not particularly private. Our site in the A loop was the only site that had foliage on both sides all the way to the ground. You were not able to see neighbors on either side whatsoever. This park also has a strong connection to Verizon cell service. Another big plus in my opinion.
The beach along the park is a beautiful, long expanse of sand. The cute little town of Manzanita is just a short walk away, and Cannon Beach, one of the most popular tourist towns on the coast is just a ten minute drive away. If you tire of beach combing, you have plenty of shopping and great food to keep you entertained.
Although this is Oregon’s largest state park, complete with air strip and horse camp, we found it to be very quiet and enjoyable during our winter travels. It probably won’t be a place we visit during the summer because we’d rather spend time at small, quiet, federal campgrounds. That being said, I’m glad we were able to enjoy the park during the quiet season before the crowds hit.