What’s to Love: When I purchased my son his new skateboard for his 8th birthday, the owner of a local skate shop was enthusiastic about the Newberg skate park, especially for kids. Basically, it was everything he said it was and more! This is the nicest skate park I’ve ever seen in my life, and while the official name is the “Chehalem Skate Park,” most people refer to it as the Newberg Skate Park.
We have visited many skate parks within a 30 mile radius of Portland, and as a place to bring younger kids, I wouldn’t recommend most of them. At most parks, you’ll get the usual foul language (which doesn’t bother me too much), drugs, broken glass, litter, etc. It’s pretty typical. There are a few skate parks where these undesirable elements are not part of the scene. Chehalem/Newberg is certainly the best example I’ve found.
While many of the undesirable attributes listed in the above paragraph are annoying and disturbing at times, one of the worst elements that you’ll encounter at many parks is attitude. However, most older skateboarders leave you alone and just do their thing. If you keep out of their way, they won’t have a problem with you and/or your kids. Some people have it in their minds that they own the park. I personally don’t like to see bikes allowed in skate parks – just my opinion.
The good news is that bikes are not allowed at Newberg, and it appears that if you have some kind of attitude problem, you’re not welcome either. This is BY FAR the friendliest skate park I’ve seen for smaller kids. As a matter of fact, when we were there, it was filled with younger kids. Several went out of their way to say hello to my kids and even help them with their skills.
More than likely, the absence of attitude, smoking (!), swearing, etc… has to do with the fact that the park has a caretaker. He lives right next to the park (literally) and keeps everyone in line. He got up right in kids’ faces who were not wearing helmets. These kids listened to him. It’s obvious that everyone does their part in keeping the whole place clean and fun for everyone. Newberg skate park is well worth the drive from Portland.
Caveats: If you have kids who are just learning to ride or very young (3 – 5 years), you cannot just turn them loose at any skate park. Inevitably, their board will go sailing across the park and earn you some dirty looks from other skaters. If you want them to skate, make sure you stick with them, keep a 360 degree radar for incoming traffic, and try to skate when it’s not crowded.
I haven’t seen a park that is geared toward kids under 5. Kids under 5 (unless they can skate very well) can create dangerous situations for other riders. They must be supervised at all times. There are VERY large bowls with steep drops. It’s possible for little kids to fall over these edges. Watch kids closely!
Not always a pleasant drive heading out to Newberg! When you exit onto 99W (from Portland), you can almost count on slow going for the next 10 – 15 miles or so. Try to head out that way during off hours.
Distance from Portland: It’s about 30 miles from Portland, but you’ll want to plan on at least 45 minutes. The skate park is within “Ewing Young Park.” Here is a Google Map.
Recommended Ages: Since you can use scooters, kids pretty young can skate the park. Remember, younger kids who have no sense of what is happening around them can create havoc! If you have younger kids, you’ll want to stick with them at all times. You don’t want them falling off an edge into a deep bowl.
Parental Stress Factor: Pretty high! If you’re not a skater, you’ll be stressed about the etiquette and your kid possibly injuring himself/herself while skating. If you’re a skater and want to pass along the sport to your kids, I’m sure you’ll be less stressed because you know what to expect.
If you have multiple kids in the park, be prepared to be a potential basket-case! Our 3-year old likes to think he can do everything our 8-year old can do. It creates stressful situations for us, particularly in skate parks. We get most stressed about keeping our 3-year old out of the way of other skaters. We want him to have fun and learn, but we certainly don’t want to cause an accident.
Physical Difficulty: Skateboarding is hard! If you’re like me and used to ride a plastic skateboard that did not flex or turn, don’t think you can just hop in these bowls and skate with the best of them. The smoothness of the concrete coupled with steep edges creates super fast speed in no time at all. The potential for an emergency room trip is rated very high!
Family Fun Factor: If the whole family skates with pads and helmets, this might be rated high. For most families, skating is primarily for kids. If your kid is interested in skating, beware – you might be spending your weekends ferrying your kids from one park to the next! Personally, I enjoy watching the incredible athleticism of some skaters.
Pet Friendly: This is not a place for a dog.
Weather Considerations: According to their website, you cannot skate this park when it’s wet! There is someone right next door who has the authority to enforce the rules (see Insider Info below).
Insider Info: DO NOT FORGET YOUR HELMET!!! There is absolutely no tolerance for breaking this rule at this particular skate park. An employee of the park service lives within 100 yards of the park. He visits often and will not only ask you to leave but could issue a citation. I saw him approach a kid, and he wasn’t particularly friendly. Since I think it’s a bad idea skating without a helmet, I’m glad he’s there and enforces the rules. I think he has a great deal of responsibility at this park.
No bikes allowed on the concrete as well. Designers were very smart to build a BMX track right next to the skate park. I’ve definitely noticed a conflict between bikers and skateboarders at other parks. At Newberg, bikers can practice their skills on the BMX track, which seems like a good solution.