Address: 50 SE 123 Street, South Beach, OR 97366
Phone: (541) 867-3100
# of sites: 164 (plus tent-only sites)
Full hookup price: From $65/night
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Warnings: The park is split into two sections, and few sites are satellite-friendly,
We were recommended this campground by another Thousand Trails member and were excited about their location, a few miles south of Newport, OR. The resort was split in two, with about 2/3 in the main portion of the park and the other section across a road on the south side. We were in the north side.
The location on the Oregon coast was probably the highlight of this campground. Situated right on Highway 101, we drove the coast in both directions, north to Tillamook to tour the cheese factory and creamery, and south to the Sea Lion Caves near Florence. Both were exquisite drives. There is a pristine beach a long, but easy, walk from most of the resort.
Newport is just about six miles away and has many of the shopping and eating options we wanted. Also in Newport was a "historic bayfront" filled with quaint buildings and piers, old fisheries and shops, and many murals had been painted throughout the district. These included, to my surprise, a Robert Wyland "whaling wall." On the other side of the bay was also the enigmatic Rogue Brewery, a must-visit spot with a great restaurant and tasting room.
The Whaler's Rest campsites themselves, at least on the north side of the resort, had excellent privacy, with lots of trees and large shrubs separating the sites. Our side of the park had laundry facilities, albeit just a few washers and dryers, and we're not sure if the south side's room is being renovated or closed for good. The north side had its own lodge with a pool table, TV, room for a group or large gathering, restrooms and showers, and the aforementioned laundry room.
Like many of the Thousand Trails properties, this is a very old park that needs a face-lift badly. There were many overgrown areas and the buildings were dated. The resort was clean but it just seemed like the staff had been overwhelmed.
Most amenities were on the other side of the park, including an indoor swimming pool and spa that we were not even aware of, a small market with very limited hours and a dog run that was a half-mile walk from our side of the campground.
Most of the Thousand Trails parks are first-come-first served for sites. This makes for slim pickings in parks like Whaler's Rest, with so much of the resort occupied by seasonal or year-round residents. When we checked in we were given a list that showed the supposed availability of satellite accessibility (sky) in each site. According to the list there were only two sites left with satellite access and one was too small for our 5th wheel. We took the other but found no sky view for satellite. I can imagine that this site had open southern sky when the list was created ten years earlier. Unfortunately the trees had grown and closed the sky view. There was no cable TV available.
As expected for this part of the country, we experienced dreary or rainy weather nearly every day of our two-week stay. You must be prepared for this if you travel the coast from Northern California to Washington State.
My first impulse was to rate this park as average with 3 stars. However, it is a very clean resort and the staff is friendly, though shorthanded, and you simply can't discount the nearly spectacular scenery that can be found in this area year-round. Even with its shortcomings, I think we will be staying again and I would recommend this park to anyone wanting the Oregon coast experience.
Jack Huber is a novelist with 7 mysteries published, along with several books of poetry and photography. Now retired, he and his wife, Nadyne, are free to travel the country in their 32' 5th wheel and 1-ton Ford pickup.