Campground Review: Cape Lookout State Park

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Cape Lookout State Park

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Cape Lookout State Park 45.342784, -123.969559

Cape Lookout State Park is located on the Oregon coast, just south of Tillamook, about a 2 hour drive from Portland. After getting through Portland it was an easy, beautiful drive getting there. We winded through the Tillamook State Forest until you get into the town of Tillamook. There it  was a bit dicey navigating some of the narrow roads but we managed by taking the truck route by Tillamook Regional Medical Center. Whiskey Creek Road heading into the park was full of potholes but did offer some awesome peek a boo views through the trees although it was a bit misleading by it’s name. Certainly if there was a creek filled with whiskey we would have found it! This park was our most anticipated on our week long vacation and our main destination.

Location:

This park is located right on the ocean and if ocean is what you are going for you can’t beat the miles of beaches to explore and play on. Cape Lookout is part of the well known Three Capes Scenic Drive. There is plenty to do in the park if you enjoy beachcombing, hiking, kite flying, and sandcastle building. The towns of Tillamook and Pacific City are both 20 minute drives (in different directions) so you are close enough to amenities if needed. There is a ton to do in the general area including the Sand Lake Recreation Area right next door. The famous Cape Lookout 5 mile hike starts in the park as well if you are adventurousness enough to go on it.

Things to see in the area:

Campsites:

Campsite #C23

Campsite #C23

The campsites at this park were very disappointing. In fairness this is an older park built before there were big RVs. It was most definitely not that big rig friendly. Sure, there were a few spots that could squeeze in the big rigs but that did not leave much of spot left. And some of the bigger spots were the ones with no hookups. We had a difficult time getting into our spot due to the sharp right angle we had to navigate to get into it. Our spot was the only spot we could have fit into that had hookups. This park was made for tenters and by tenting standards it is a pretty nice park. The RV area really could use a re-design, while there are several spots for RVs, most could only fit smaller RVs. The campground itself was separated as well by a berm protecting it from the beach. None of the sites have ocean views. Our site wasn’t that private either, the site next to us was right on top of us so we could walk out the door in the morning and see what was for breakfast at our neighbors site. Our site was also one of the nicest in the park., it wasn’t bad, we’ve had worse but it was not what we were expecting.

Amenities:

Happy Beachcombers!

Happy Beachcombers!

There are only 35 hookup sites at this park. The vast majority of sites, more then 170, are tent sites. There are also several yurts and cabins. There is a meeting hall here as well for group gatherings. Only 3 bathrooms had showers. There were always people walking up to the shower at the upper loop restroom. There is also an amphitheater here, a pretty nice one. It’s sad that ranger programs are no longer in the budget for Washington and Oregon State Parks. I had fond memories as a kid of going to see Smokey the Bear and learning about the parks at amphitheaters at several campgrounds. Hiker/Biker camps are pretty nice here, even providing you with a cubby to store your stuff.  The group camp here was pretty nice as well. It was right next to the ocean with a view, but again it was a no amenity group camp, great for tenters, not so much for us prissy RVrs who need their hookups. 🙂 As a side note we had great phone signal here and solid 3G (from Sprint).

Kid Friendly:

Lots of trees to climb on the nature trail.

Lots of trees to climb on the nature trail.

I am a bit mixed on this one. Our kids were happy they had internet here and enjoyed the huge log in the back to play on. The beach was massive and you could spend hours down there with the kids. There are no play structures here and bike riding is hit or miss. The traffic constantly coming into the park is a problem. We actually saw a toddler almost get run over by the ranger by darting out right in front of him from their campsite. The campsite was surrounded by shrubbery which made for a nice private spot but impeded vision by the road.  The toddler was completely unsupervised by adults. The ranger actually got out and scolded the parents for not watching their child. We saw a lot of that at this park, unsupervised, really young children running around. This is a popular park, one of the most popular in the state of Oregon. It was crowded even mid-week and full of kids running around. The narrow loops when some of the bigger rvs were coming in was a safety hazard for children. I would’ve been a nervous wreck had I had younger kids.

Dog Friendly:

Maggie enjoying the sand.

Maggie enjoying the sand.

Dogs are always welcome at state parks as long as they are kept on a leash and you pick up after them. There is a huge beach here though where several people were letting their dogs run and play. Of course the dogs love the beach, including mine. Most people completely ignored the leash rule. Our dogs were almost attacked quite a few times by loose dogs when we were out walking the campground loop. Thankfully I am able to lift them up quickly by their leashes. While none of this is the parks fault it made our stay less then fun and relaxing.

We were very much looking forward to this trip to Oregon. We always hear how nice Oregon State Parks are and this one missed the mark. While a popular park it is more than likely we would not return here. This is another park where the reviews don’t necessarily reflect properly on the park. This park gets good reviews on Yelp and Google. It depends on your point of view I suppose. As a tenter I probably would love this park (well not the hike to the showers) but as an RVr it fell short especially when you compare it to a nicer park like Cape Disappointment which is where we went for the remainder of our week long vacation. Have you been to Cape Lookout State Park? We’d like to know what you think. Let us know in the comments below.

 

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