The campground at Nehalem Bay State Park offers yurts (see the separate yurt tip) plus 265 electrical hookup sites with water connections, for those that use recreational vehicles (caravans) or other such moving self-propelled accommodations. The current charge, as of this writing, is $20 during the off-season and $24 during the tourist season. If you have a second vehicle, you are required to pay an extra $5 per night extra vehicle parking fee. A third vehicle must be parked in the overflow section of the campground, or the second vehicle must be parked there if there isn't space for it.
Most of the camping sites are too small to add a tent to, though there are some that appear to have sufficient space for one. For the most part, the camping sites are dedicated to those who travel in their accommodations.
The allowed vehicle length is listed on the state parks campground map of the park. The length ranges from 59 feet (18 meters) at site A32 down to 20 feet (6 meters) at site A16, with many sites in the 35 to 45 foot range. It is not permitted to park a vehicle off the paved area, as that damages the grounds of the campground for future visitors.
A dump station is located at the entrance to the park, and restrooms and showers are located in the center of loops A, B, E and F. The amount of privacy you get depends on where you are. For example, loop A has considerably denser forest than most of loop B, and loop B also has some sites that are terribly close to the pathways between all the other camp sites and the restroom/shower facility.
Three of the camp sites on loop A are considered to meet ADA requirements, though just how easy it would be to camp in a wheelchair at these sites isn't something I could judge.
I didn't camp in one of the electrical hookup sites (instead, I stayed in a yurt) but this information is provided for those who are interested in reading further.
The regular campground at Nehalem Bay State Park includes a mixture of yurt sites and "hookup" sites for those in recreational vehicles. This tip is entirely devoted to the yurt camp sites.
Our group stayed in the yurts February 25 to 27, 2011. This weekend had some of the coldest weather had seen in a very long time. I never found the actual temperature readings, but it was cold enough to freeze the ocean water that had washed up on the beach at high tide.
The yurt stayed reasonably warm on the days that temperatures were normal for the Oregon coast, but they were a bit chilly (though still reasonably good - and better than a tent would have been) on the night that it got very cold. There were some estimates that the temperatures in the area were 17 deg F (somewhere around -8 C) that night, and as this is well below the normal range, it should be understood that when built the heaters in the yurts would be somewhat under sized for such temperatures as those.
For best information about the arrangement of the campground, it is best to consult the map of the campground on the state parks web site or at the park itself. There are a series of loops, with the yurts intermixed with the standard camp sites. The center of each loop includes a restroom and shower building. Three of these loops are closed off in the winter months, but loops A, B, and C remain open all year. Currently the yurts are located only on loop A, and two directly at the entrance to the camping loops (the least desirable location, though in winter months there isn't much traffic into and out of the campground).
My biggest complaint was the rather significant reservation fee that is charged by the company that has been contracted to take reservations. It is $8, meaning that our two night stay cost two nights in the yurt ($36 a night) plus the fee put it at $80 for the stay.
On the other hand, I highly suggest reservations. Despite the very cold weather for even winter time, about 1/2 of all the yurts were taken, and the list of reserved spaces included some people that didn't arrive at all due to the difficult driving conditions on some of the roads between the Willamette Valley and the coast. There will probably be vacant spaces in the off season but if you want a specific spot (and our group wanted to be together) reservations are the only way to do it.
Some of the yurt sites are somewhat different in arrangement than other sites, though the internal details remain the same. For example, some of them have slightly larger porches than others, and several have enough space for several picnic tables (though each only has one table). I have provided three examples of yurt photos in my tip: photo 1 shows the most basic arrangment: a small porch which is nearly completely covered, plus a table. Photo 3 shows a larger arrangement with two tables and a wide front porch. Photo 4 shows a broad porch with space for two or three tables, but only one is provided. As the weather on the Oregon coast is almost always wet, all of the yurts have at least part (and in the case of the one shown in Photo 1, mostly) covered, to allow cooking in the rain.
Note in the photos that the yurts tend to have ramps leading into them from the parking places. In theory, this helps provide wheelchair access to the yurts, but the reality is that few of the other facilities at the state park are wheelchair compatible. For example, the only wheelchair accessible restroom facility is the one at the center of camping loop A. The paved loop bike trail could be navigated in a wheelchair, but most of the other trails, including the several trails to the beach, would be impossible to do so.
Check-in time is 4 in the afternoon, and check-out time is 1 in the afternoon.
Your parking permit slip serves as a valid day use pass for the park as well, so that you may use the park up until 10 at night until the day of your check out.
Extra vehicle fees are $5, and the yurt itself is currently $36 per night, which includes parking for one vehicle. It is possible to cram two reasonably compact cars into the parking places at most of the yurts, but for anything larger you would need to use the overflow parking areas near the entrance to the park.
Yurts are an interesting option for those who would rather not have to pack a tent, and then set it up in the wind and rain on the Oregon coast, and then deal with the wet mess coming back home. Instead, the Yurt provides many of the advantages of a tent (being able to hear the ocean through the walls, for example) with some of the advantages of having a cabin. For example, there is a permanent porch, which is partly covered. The yurt is already set up, has a stable floor in it, and has one bunk bed and one futon fold-out bed, providing space for five people at best capacity. There is electricity in the form of one electrical outlet, and a small built-in space heater.
Each yurt also has a smoke alarm, and smoking and cooking inside the yurt is not allowed due to the fire hazard.
Privacy is also somewhat different at each yurt. The campground is set amid fairly dense coastal forest that is very low growing. Most of these trees have no branches lower down, so many of the camp sites are within sight of the others. In some places, the trees have overgrown the lower areas due to unique sun exposure, and thus they provide additional privacy for some certain camp sites and yurts.
The yurts have the beds bolted in place, but the interior table, floor lamp, and chairs may be moved around. The only complaint I found with this arrangement was that when you get a group of five people in the yurt, it is very easy to trip over the legs of the bunk bed, the ends of which are formed in the shame of an A. See Photo 5 and you can see how the legs of the A frame bunk bed would be a little bit of a tripping hazard in a crowded room.
The yurts, however, are not hotel rooms. They do not come with their own restroom facilities for example. Each has an outdoor water spigot and outdoor fire pit.
We spent 4th of July 2005 here with the extended family (took up three camp sites) and had so much fun we're planning on coming back next year. The park can be found off Highway 101 and is practically on the beach. We just walked over the sand dunes and we were right there on the beach.
We flew kites on the beach, went for walks, cooked over an open fire and made s'mores.
The rangers drove around a couple times a day to make sure everything was on the up and up. The people next to us complained about random people walking through their site to get to the beach so the rangers closed down the trails to the beach and asked that everyone use a specific trail to get to the beach. It was nice of the rangers to take their complaint to heart but was rather inconvenient for everyone else.
The only other downer was this one crow who thought 7 am was a great time to crow continuously. I wanted to kill him!
Check the state park web site below for prices because they vary October 1 to April 30 is less expensive. May 1 to September 30 costs about $4 more per day on average.
Camp sites with electrical hookups for trailers are nearly twice as expensive as non electric sites. Even if you have just a tent, if you put it on a site that has an electrical hookup you pay the electric site price.
This campground has room for tent and trailer camping. There are also yurts available to rent. My family had 2 trailers and 3 tents, spread over 3 sites. There are bathrooms and hot showers available. There is also a big parking lot at the front available for overflow parking (you can only have 2 cars at every site).
The beach is right there and you can hear the ocean all over the camp ground.
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