SP Campground Review – Nehalem Bay State Park, OR

Beach bounded by capes...pretty neat!
A lovely day on the beach at Nehalem State Park

A simply lovely state park by both a cute town & great beach on the Northern Oregon coast. A gem of a place!

Link to campground here: Nehalem Bay State Park, OR
Link to map location here: Nehalem Bay State Park, OR

  1. Site Quality = 4.5/5
    Sites come pretty close to being perfect here, at least as far as a State Park goes. Sites are well-sized, flat, paved back-ins with 30 Amp/water and large, grassy “sitting areas” with picnic table and fire-pit. Separation and privacy is good with plenty of sand-pines providing a really nice mix of partial sun/shade. The campsites are arranged in 2 major loops (ABC and DEF), and all sites are really quite nice. Outer-facing sites are slanted to the road and best suited for bigger rigs, while inner-facing sites are perpendicular to the road and better access for smaller campers/tenters. The most popular sites seem to be the beach-front sites -> none have direct beach views, but beach-facing sites in the first loop (between C33 on left and A32 on right) almost all have a “hidden” trail directly from your site over the dunes to the beach (sites in the 2nd loop do not). The only potential “ding” is that some sites have low-hanging or over-hanging branches which can be a problem for bigger rigs. It’s worth taking the time to look through campsitephotos.com and assessing this before you come.
    Note/ There is also a separate horse-camp and biker/hiker-camp.
  2.  Facilities = 4.5/5
    Really nice facilities here. There are 2 toilet/shower areas in each of the two campground loops. Showers are large stalls with separate clothing area and have excellent pressure/temp with really nice shower-heads (none of those spray heads). One of the nicest showers I’ve seen in an OR state park! The only ding is sand and mud which sometimes gets the facilities dirtier than I like during full-times. LOTS of other facilities all around the campground incl. day-use areas, picnic areas, playground, biking trails etc. Large two-lane on-site dump station.
  3. Location = 5/5
    Location couldn’t get better for this park. You’re camped on a quiet and naturally pretty sand-spit within steps (just over the dunes) to a lovely 6-mile beach on one side and relaxed bay on the other. A mere 1.5 miles away (by either beach or road) you have lovely Manzanita, a really cute town with a good selection of food and atmosphere, plus just north of that is gorgeous Oswald West State Park for more rigorous hiking. For bigger day-outings you’re also only ~20 miles north of Tillamook and the Three Capes Drive. There’s even horse-riding/rental just a mile from camp. It’s really the perfect mix of location and activity all in one place!
  4. Pet Friendliness = 5/5
    Another fabulous doggie park. Good space to hang-out in camp, plus only steps (over the dunes) to 6 miles of beach-area which are completely paw-friendly. There are also several additional on-site trails, including a nice path to the bay and additional beach/water on that side. Poo bags provided.

Overall Rating = 4.75
 Relax on 6 miles of beach within easy reach of spectacular capes & a super-cute town!

Summary: What a gem of a park! Nehalem Bay State Park sits on a 3-mile sand-spit just south of the lovely town of Manzanita. Campsites are nestled in sand pine around 2 major loops (ABC and DEF) and all provide 30Amp/water with nice, paved back-in sites, large grassy “sitting areas”, good separation and nice mix of sun and shade. As an added bonus the showers are the best I’ve seen in any OR state park. The biggest attraction though is the gorgeous location. You’re a short walk over dunes to a fabulous 6-mile beach, or a bike-ride away from the bay-side for a relaxing  bay view or a short 1.5 mile hike (along the beach) or bike/drive (road) from super-cute Manzanita for dinner, shopping and just lounging around. Or, if you fancy a real workout go just north of town and lose yourself in Oswald West State Park. And that’s not even mentioning Tillamook and all there is to see there just ~20 miles south. It’s rare that I’ve seen such a perfect mix of beach, town and activity in a single state park…all within super-easy reach! The *only* possible ding I could give this park is that some of the sand pine has low-hanging or leaning branches. From what I’ve heard the park service have worked hard to trim everything, and we didn’t have any trouble driving around, but we couldn’t back-in completely to our site due to a stubborn, low branch. Given all the positives of this park I consider this a very minor item which can be easily solved by good site choice. Our experience here was so good we extended our stay and the park has rocketed it’s way to one of our absolute fav on the coast. A real gem of a place and definitely one we will be returning to.

Extra Info:  Decent, solid 3 bars of 3G Verizon here. Sites cost $24 in summer, $20 in off-season all reservable (265 30 Amp/water sites). There is also a separate horse-camp and biker/hiker-camp area. On-site dump station.

Note/ You can get a pic of each and every campsite at this park at campsitephotos.com

View down A sites. A14 on right with A12, A10 behind.
View down A sites. A14 on right with A12, A10 behind.
View down beach-side B/C sites. Site B24 on right with C47, C46 behind. These all have "hidden" trails over the dunes to the beach.
View down beach-side B/C sites. Site B24 on right with C47, C46 behind. These all have “hidden” trails over the dunes to the beach.
Front view of our site C22. We had a huge (lovely) sitting area, but couldn't back-up completely because of low-hanging branches on the right
Front view of our site C22. We had a huge (lovely) sitting area, but couldn’t back-up completely because of low-hanging branches on the right
View of our site from further back. Site C28 on right, with C26/24 behind and us in C22
View of our site from further back. Site C28 on right, with C26/24 behind and us in C22
View down back of C-row. C16 on right with C15, C13 behind
View down back of C-row. C16 on right with C15, C13 behind
View down beach-facing sites in D area. Site D40 on right with D38/D36 behind. These do not have individual trails to the beach, but there is a trail in middle of the loop.
View down beach-facing sites in D area. Site D40 on right with D38/D36 behind. These do not have individual trails to the beach, but there is a trail in middle of the loop.
More beach-side sites. Site E40 on right with E38, E36 behind.
More beach-side sites in DEF area. Site E40 on right with E38, E36 behind.
View down F area. F23 on right with F21/F20 behind
View down F row. F23 on right with F21/F20 behind
Picnic table and fire-pit at each site. This is one of the smaller sites B33.
Picnic table and fire-pit at each site. This is one of the smaller sites B33.
View of central playground and facilities. One in each loop.
View of central playground and facilities. One in each loop.
Horses on the beach
Horses on Nehalem State Park beach. Behind are the dunes that separate the campground from the beach.
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do

  1. says

    You’re finding some great sites and sights along the Oregon coast. We were up there last summer, but didn’t explore it as thoroughly as you did, so you’re inspiring me to come back and follow in your footsteps sometime in the future. (I photographed your work-camp site and sent you the manipulated image of your motorhome and car.)

    I followed your trail in Google Maps, and see you were extremely close to Craters of the Moon National Park in Idaho as well as the Twin Falls falls/canyon area, but it seems like you missed both of these “must see” places.

    Now for a question: what do you use so that your Google Maps keeps your trails marked forever, kind of like breadcrumbs?

    We’re heading out Monday for two months with our brand new Montana fifth wheel for points east of California: Arizona, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama, then north through Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio, and finally back west via Wisconsin, South Dakota and Colorado. Yeah, I’ve missed some states along the way, but I hope to photograph and blog our way like we did three years ago in our previous travel trailer trip once around the U.S – 3 months and 12,000 miles. You’re my inspiration! If I can only be ½ as good as you, I’ll be satisfied, really satisfied!

    • libertatemamo says

      I remember that pic you took. We loved it!!

      Regarding Google Maps we use the “My Places” feature. You have to have a Google account and sign-in, but once you do you can access “My Places” where you can make and save maps. I wrote a little “tutorial” on how to do this here (scroll to bottom of post):

      Happy travels to you! Sounds like you’ve got a great 2 months lined-up.


  2. carol says

    this is an excellent campground with clean neat facilities, even a clubhouse. Camped there with horses several times, once with a tent other times recreational vehicles.

    • libertatemamo says

      The horse-camping area is very nice. I didn’t take any pics of it, but we did bike through and liked it a lot.

    • Jana says


      Any info to pass along regarding the horse camping facilities? Need weedfree certified hay? Any sites u particularly like? Did u find enough area to explore for couple days?

      My thx, jr

      • libertatemamo says

        Sorry…I don’t have much info beyond just the fact that you can camp with horses there. I’d advise giving the park a call. I did think all the sites looked good, plus the beach riding is gorgeous.


  3. Charlotte says

    I love your campground reviews! They are very helpful in planning our trips. Thanks for all the time you spend on your blog, it’s really appreciated. My bucket list just keeps getting bigger and bigger. This is absolutly an area of OR we will spend some time exploring for sure.

  4. Robert Nuttmann says

    Thanks – yesterday after and unexpected 8,000 dollar repair in Bakersfield on the way to Oregon to get small repairs done at the factory I am checking the value of our motorhome on NADA. I was real close to listing it for sale and decided before doing it I would read your latest post. One quick look at the your beach picture that leads this post and I changed my mind. Your constant upbeat posts on places great and sometimes not-so-much are inspirational. Thanks again.

  5. Peter says

    It’s Wednesday, the 26th…are you in Florence? I would like to meet you if you are…..and of course, are willing….Peter

  6. keepinontruckin says

    Hi Nina,
    Just returned from a week on the Oregon coast, visiting Nehalem Bay SP for three nights, based on your recommendation. Good call! That’s one we hadn’t visited before. Now it’s one of our favorites, and we’ll definitely be back (we live near Portland). I completely agree with your comments regarding campground layout, showers (outstanding), etc. We were there this past Mon-Wed., and had weather you wouldn’t believe. High temps of 78 and 84 Tu-Wed, and clear skies of course! Walked from campground to jetty on inland trail, and back along beach. Collected as much beach debris as we could carry, but had to leave quite a few floats and a couple tires! Campground was fairly quiet because loops D, E, and F weren’t open yet. We were in A32, which happened to be the deepest space in the park at 59′!
    A side note shower related. On the way over we stopped at Stub Stewart for a night to take care of de-winterizing chores. When we broke camp it was raining, and wet gear was hung from rods in shower/tub. Somewhere along the way they fell, and caused tub water valve to partially open. I usually turn off the campsite spigot whenever we’re away from trailer, but neglected to do so prior to our hike. Upon returning, I noticed a pretty good stream running into the tub, and my wife immediately observed that gray tank indicator was glowing red! Disaster averted!!! I wasn’t about to unhook everything to go dump the gray tank. My wife prefers in-house showers, but she was ok with the ones at Nehalem. I prefer room to move and unlimited hot water!
    We didn’t have bikes with us this trip, but will definitely next time now that I know there’s a bike path/lane all the way into Manzanita.
    Followed up with three nights at Cape Lookout SP. The only thing Cape Lookout has over Nehalem is sewer hookups. Sites and beach don’t compare, plus those annoying push-button showers. Did visit Blue Heron Cheese (lunch coming and going), and Tillamook Air Museum (first time there, definitely worth a stop).
    Thanks again for detailed review, it was spot on!

    • libertatemamo says

      So glad you got to enjoy this park…and in near-perfect weather too!! Thanks for reporting back on your experiences.


  7. Doug says

    This is one, if not the only state park that includes an airport. We use to fly in there with collapsible bikes and ride over to Manzanita for lunch. You could pitch a tent on the airfield at one time. Don’t know if you still can.
    Fun landing there since you approach over the bay.

    • libertatemamo says

      You’re right!! We actually bicycled past the old landing strip while we were there. No idea if it’s still open, but it’s definitely still there. What a fun memory!


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