For a picturesque spot with the splendor of the Pacific Northwest, look no further than Cape Lookout State Park in Tillamook, Oregon. Cape Lookout is situated on a coastal sand split between Netarts Bay and the Pacific Ocean, and is filled with natural beauty and wildlife. Its two thousand acres of lush primeval forest has more than eight miles of trails to explore. Park your rig at the waterfront campground for easy beach access while you comb for treasures along the coastline.
A visit to Cape Lookout is also a great stop on an RV road trip as part of the Three Capes Scenic Route, along with Cape Kiwanda and Cape Meares. The rocky coastal views and ancient wooded forests are unique to this part of the country and are spectacular to see any time of year. Cape Lookout is a popular camping and day visit spot during the summer peak season, so be prepared for some company if you’re visiting during this time. Don’t forget to pack warm clothes in your trailer, as even summer nights can be chilly and windy in northern Oregon.
Be amazed at the colorful hang gliders flying above this park, a popular launch area for thrill seekers. Catch a glimpse of the whales swimming off the tip of the Cape during the Grey Whale southern migration season of late March to June. Stroll along the beach looking for a message in a bottle or get up close with a natural tide pool and find a starfish. With more than three miles of beach, whether you’re in the mood to relax or explore, you’ll have a chance to do both during your RV trip here.
RV Rentals in Cape Lookout State Park
Transportation in Cape Lookout State Park
Cape Lookout State Park is south of the city of Tillamook, in Tillamook county, in northern Oregon. It is a scenic hour and a half drive west of Portland, through Wilbur Pass. Route 101 runs along the Oregon coast and provides easy access to the park with signs for the Three Capes Loop. There are no driving restrictions for RVs or trailers inside the park.
You should have no problem finding a place to park your trailer in the 300 car parking lot at the day use area. However, keep in mind that spots may fill up quickly during the peak season. Your best bet is to snag a spot at the campground, park your rig, and head out from there.
Campgrounds and parking in Cape Lookout State Park
Campsites in Cape Lookout State Park
Cape Lookout State Park Campground
Enjoy easy access to the beach, dunes and ocean views at the Cape Lookout State Park Campground. There are 38 full-hookup sites for your RV base camp, with select sites accommodating rigs up to 60 feet in length. There are 170 tent only sites with water nearby, and one electrical site with water. Amenities include picnic tables, fire rings, comfort stations, recycling station, evening programs, junior ranger program, and firewood available for sale. If you are visiting in the off-season, be advised the RV dumpsite is closed in winter. Reservations may be made up to 9 months in advance.
There are no designated first-come first-served campgrounds at Cape Lookout State Park.
If you are looking for more modern amenities at a private campground, you’ll find plenty of options to choose from in the surrounding area. These nearby private campgrounds can provide WiFi, laundry facilities, swimming pools, playgrounds, camp stores and onsite activities. You can park your RV off-site at a private campground and still enjoy all the attractions of the great outdoors at Cape Lookout State Park.
Yurts and Deluxe Cabins
If you are looking for more exotic way to camp, try one of the 13 yurts available for rent at the park. Yurts are nomad-style domed tent structures, and the ones at Cape Lookout come with wooden floors, lockable doors, lighting, heating and beds. There are also six deluxe cabins, nestled in the pine forest, which feature modern amenities such as refrigerators, microwaves, barbecue grills and TV/DVD Players. Pet-friendly accommodations are available for an extra fee.
Seasonal activities in Cape Lookout State Park
The Netarts Bay is renowned for its water quality, and with access from Cape Lookout State Park, it is a great place to bring your fishing and digging gear out of the trailer. Surfperch, seaperch, greenling and pileperch are commonly found from the Spring to Fall season. Fishing for redtail surfperch is also excellent off the ocean side of the sand spit.
Oregon’s tidepools draw thousands of curious explorers every year, and are a unique feature of this area of the Pacific coast. With a little effort and a healthy amount of caution, you can find crabs, sea urchins, sea stars, anemones, barnacles, surf grass, kelp and much more. Be mindful of park rules as you head out of your camper and delve into the rocky intertidal areas to glimpse these treasures of the sea.
Cape Lookout State Park is a prime location to watch the Grey Whale northern migration during the late March to June season. During this time, approximately 18,000 whales will pass through Oregon waters on their way north to Alaska, and often stay within half a mile of the coast. Look for water spouts on the horizon and have your binoculars ready.
Hiking & Walking
For the best views in the park, leave the motorhome behind and enjoy hiking the eight miles of trails in Cape Lookout State Park. The Cape Trail leads to the best viewpoint at the tip of the Cape, with a bench in the perfect spot to whale watch. The Oregon Coast trails, North and South, offer additional hiking through the forest overlooking the ocean. There is also a self-guided educational nature trail that is family-friendly.
The over three miles of beautiful Pacific coastline beaches at Cape Lookout will make everyone in your RV happy. Wade at the sandy water's edge, take long walks up the coast, and beachcomb for sea treasure like sand dollars, driftwood, tide pools and glass fishing floats. Watching an oceanside sunset will be the highlight of your trip. Be aware of the changing tides as some areas of the beach disappear at high tide.
Junior Ranger Program
Young campers, age 6-12, get a special chance to enroll in the Junior Ranger Program at the campground registration booth and receive their own official “passport”. Passport stamps are earned for completing fun and educational activities throughout the park and during the camping experience. The Junior Ranger Program is offered at many Oregon State Parks and is a great way to engage the kids in your travels.
Crabbing & Clamming
If you appreciate high quality shellfish, dig for razor clams on the ocean side of the sand spit, or go crabbing in the bay. The bay is home to numerous species of clams including littlenecks, geoduck, razor and purple varnish. The winter season crabbing in Netarts Bay is said to be the best in all of Oregon.
Self-Guided Nature Trail
A brief, family-friendly walk near the campground registration booth is perfect for a short excursion from your rig. Hand-out guides are available to walk you through the interesting sights along the trail. This is a great opportunity to observe and learn about the flora and natural history of the Pacific Northwest.
Picnic next to the ocean and enjoy breathtaking views along with your meal. The large picnic area near the registration booth is big enough for groups and situated near the nature trail. Take advantage of an after-meal walk and observe the scenery, and don’t miss seeing sun set into the Pacific Ocean horizon after dinner on the beach.
Pack your binoculars in your RV if you want to get a close up view of the numerous marine and forest birds that populate the park. The tideland crustaceans provide an excellent food source for shore birds--and great bird watching opportunities for you. Common sightings along this part of the Oregon coast include Peregrine Falcon, Western Gull, Black Oystercatcher, Grey Jay, Black Brant and Red Crossbill.