Thousand Trails Whalers Rest: Your Beach Is Right This Way

Greetings from Whalers Rest, in semi-sunny Oregon! We’ve been on the road for over a year now. (I know, right?) During that time, we haven’t done much “trip reporting.” It just sort of seemed out of the scope of what I was doing on Misdirected. Not to mention the fact that my posting schedule has been…erratic, shall we say?

However, with my personal commitment to getting the Nomad Road website off the ground (coming Real Soon Now), I’ve started messing around with the idea. What, I asked myself, would an ideal trip report look like? Would it be straight Campendium style reviews about how level sites were and how clean the bathrooms are? Or would it be more…experiential, shall we say? More about what it is like being at the campground than nuts and bolts details that are already being provided by so many other providers.

Then we spent a few weeks here at Whaler’s Rest, outside Newport Oregon, and I had my answer.

Home Sweet Mobile Home

I’ve written a lot about Oregon, both in my fiction and here at Misdirected. Nothing prepared me for the reality of it.

I’ve been exposed to lots of Oregon residents talking trash about their home. Some talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder. Others mention that the rain never stops. They say the winters are awful.

Clever devils. I had no idea that they were attempting to keep us outsiders from discovering how amazing this place really is.

Whaler’s Rest RV Resort sits just South of Newport, Oregon, on the Oregon coast. And I mean, like right on the coast – our campsite is about 250 yards from the beach in a straight line. Following the walking path takes maybe half a mile. Let’s take a look at it, shall we?

Stella in her home slot
Good thing we like trees.

Yeah, that’s us. Completely surrounded by trees on three sides, on top of a hill looking back toward the Pacific. Full disclosure – there are so many trees here that you can only catch occasional glimpses of the ocean. But you can hear the waves pretty much 100% of the time. It is amazing and therapeutic.

The Greenest of Them All

The lily pond at Whalers Rest
The Reflect-a-Lily Pond

So, Oregon. No matter where you look, you are going to see water, like the gorgeous lily pond sheltered below the clubhouse on the North side of the park. Most of these roads, and many of the sites, are hard-packed dirt and gravel. That means one thing: mud. If you don’t have them already, get yourself some rain gear and especially water-resistant footwear. Melissa went so far as to get herself trendy forest green Wellingtons.

We stayed here three weeks, and it was a rare day when we didn’t see the sun at all. I think maybe three days that were perpetually overcast, and remember this is in the tail end of winter – February through early March. The idea I had of the state being perpetually foggy and gloomy was just not even close to realistic. And if you don’t mind a little rain, there is nothing preventing you from layering up and heading out into the world anyway. There’s a reason that the flannel shirt seems to be the state item of clothing.

The park infrastructure is pretty typical for Thousand Trails. You’ve got a laundry room, some aging but functional bathhouses, and a bunch of park amenities that no one has been able to use for a year. Thanks, COVID. About ten to fifteen percent of the sites are long-term leases. The surrounding forest gives an amazing amount of privacy between sites, something we loved. The staff is amazingly friendly and helpful, and the park’s two halves are secured behind code-locked gates.

Speaking of the two halves…

A Tale of Two Parks

Slot 8, just inside the front gate
Level cement slab, deck, and fire ring. We’re going to ask for this one next time we show up.

This view of Slot #8, just inside the front gate here at Whalers Rest gives you a great view of what to expect. This is our favorite site, with the integrated deck, concrete pad, table, and fire ring.

It’s also a great place to talk about the “two sides” of the park. Whalers Rest is cut into two halves, a North Section and a South section. Upon arrival, you’ll be directed to take a look around and choose your site. (Most Thousand Trails campgrounds follow this policy, rather than assigning sites.) If you choose the South side, you’ll get slots like the one pictured above: concrete pad, up to 50-amp power, usually a table, and a fire pit in front of the landing spot for your rig.

However, what you won’t have is cellular service or WIFI.

In order to remain connected to the universe at large, you’ll need to move to the North section of the park. There the sites are a little more secluded, a little more tree-surrounded, and a lot more covered in cell service and Free Wifi (as of March 2021, anyway.) You pays your money and you makes your choice.

We tried both sides. I initially fell in love with a site at the far South end of the park, right next to the trail to the beach. I lasted four whole days. After getting tired of my endless bitching about no cell service and no wifi, Melissa had us hitch up and move to the North Side, into the slot pictured above. I not only loved staying connected, but I loved the view and the sound of the ocean as well. Walking a little more is a health benefit anyway.

Speaking of walking…

Right This Way

Beach Sign Whalers Rest
Following This…
Path to the beach
…leads you to this.

Like most Thousand Trails resorts, Whalers Rest incorporates a “Walk The Trails” walking trail which meanders around the park for a mile, enabling fitness enthusiasts to keep track of daily mileage.

However, if you start off at the sign (pictured above) at the South end of the park, you can instead walk through a tree-lined copse into an explosion of Oregon greenery. Now, remember, I’m from Northern New Mexico – I have seen trees before. But the green here is everywhere. Birds talk to each other and furry creatures scamper through the underbrush, driving my dog to distraction. And this is in February, mind you. Back home, if it isn’t a pine tree, it is bare of leaves and greenery in winter – skeletal branches reaching for the sky in a mute supplication, begging for Spring to arrive.

The path wanders around for at best half a mile, leading you to the side of the Pacific Coast Highway, the fabled “101”. And, despite what I have read on many other reviews about the park, this is no 6-lane monstrosity with packed cars whizzing by at upwards of 80 miles an hour.

This is a two-lane road, with very sparse traffic, with drivers usually going well under the speed limit so they can gaze at the ocean. The longest we had to wait to cross the road safely during our stay here was about thirty seconds. Dart across the road, and you’ve arrived here:

The Lost Creek Horizon

Lost Creek Park Waves
Lost Creek State Park

This is the real reason you want to stay at Whalers Rest, in my opinion. You are never further than fifteen minutes walking distance from Lost Creek State Park, and its gorgeous public beach.

I should mention here – through some miracle of legislation, all of Oregon’s beaches are public. That’s right – unlike California, all 362 miles of Oregon coastline are 100% public use lands. And the numerous state parks provide parking, access, even public facilities like restrooms. (Though curtailed during the age of COVID, many of these restrictions are being eased and lifted as I write this.)

These aren’t exactly crystalline sunbather’s paradises, mind you. While we were here the average ocean temperature was under 40 degrees F. Instead, these beaches are populated by sea life, beachcombers, crabbers and clammers, and the ever-present driftwood:

The ocean creates fabulous art

While here I tried to make it down to the shoreline at least every three days. But, every single day, from some vantage point in the park, I was able to stop and just stare at the Pacific. I can’t seem to get enough of it, and would (and will) return here in a heartbeat for more “ocean therapy.”

Whalers Rest – add it to your “must visit” list if you have any love at all for nature, hiking, and especially the ocean. Maybe skip it if you don’t like rain or trees.

I’m On To You, Oregon,

  • Jeremy