A Wonderfully Pleasant Surprise – La Push, WA
I was fully prepared not to like this place. This wasn’t because of the beaches mind you (everybody raves about those), but because of everything else I’d read. The reviews of La Push, both the town and the RV park were literally all over the place. I’d seen descriptions of “dump”, “viscous loose dogs everywhere”, “sad place” and no end of other depressing reviews. Having traveled through many (sadly) really poor & dumpy Indian reservations in AZ I was prepared for the absolute worst. This was probably going to be a horrible RV park, nothing but dirt pads with trash & rabid animals everywhere, I thought, but at least we were going to be right next to the beach. Should make up for it, right?
Boy was I surprised….
We drove into the RV park (Quileute Oceanside Resort) on Thursday afternoon accompanied by a perfectly sunny day. I cringed as I opened my eyes for the first view (having obviously closed them to compose myself for the shock) and couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing. What? This is it? Really? The view that came into focus was a small, perfectly clean RV park with enormous (super long) RV sites pleasantly separated by tasteful wooden fences and literally only 20-feet from the ocean. This was definitely worth the $40/night we splurged on it!
We checked into the office and motored down into our swimmingly-large site where our biggest dilemma was trying to decide if we wanted 15 or 20 feet of space in front of the RV for our “sitting area”. Plus, wouldn’t you know it an on-site espresso stand and a Verizon tower just behind us. We had 5 bars of 4G LTE, an unlimited mocha supply, I could hear & smell the ocean from our site and everything was…well…so darn pretty!!
This was one of the nicest private RV parks we’d been to in a while.
One of the best things about worst expectations is when they’re completely obliterated. I was giddy with joy, bounding around and chattering endlessly about how lucky we’d gotten. Even Paul was impressed and couldn’t help a wee bit of gushing himself. Having set-up the rig, we walked directly out of our front door, over the mini-dune and stood in front of a stunningly beautiful sight. A huge, crescent-shaped sandy beach bounded by the three imposing spires of St.James Island on the right with a forested cape and lovely set of sea stacks on the left. Wow!!
How come everyone gave this place such mixed reviews??
La Push & First Beach
La Push from French La Bouche (meaning “The Mouth” of the River) is a Quileute Indian Reservation on the northern-middle WA coast. The area has got four of the most famous beaches on the WA coast, First Beach (in La Push proper), Rialto Beach, Second Beach and Third Beach (the latter three are outside the reservation and part of the Olympic National Park).
The entire town of La Push can be walked in 20 minutes and certainly can’t be labelled upper-class. It contains an older marina and a ram-shackle of smaller houses and double-wides. A bit run-down sure, but no worse than I’ve seen in alot of older towns especially in the SW. The RV “resort” really doesn’t offer anything resort-like at all except for huge sites & the amazing beach -> no WiFi, no pool, no kiddy playground, no manicured trees. In other words, exactly the things we like and none of the things we don’t.
Finally, being an Indian Reservation rules are very loose on First Beach which means dogs off-leash, people camping on the sand and the occasional fire-cracker in the evening. If you’re looking for an upscale amenity-rich park in an upper-class town with a rule-strong beach you won’t like it here. If you just want a great site steps from a stunning beach where you can roam off-leash with pooch you’ll love it here. Guess which party we belong to?
NOTE/ First Beach is completely within the Indian Reservation and is off-leash dog-friendly along its entire length.
Vampires & Werewolves
Adding a bit to the charm of the place (or taking away from it, deepening on your viewpoint) is the fact that this area was the main setting for the Twilight book series. Thanks to reliable foggy weather & wolf-based tribal history Forks & La Push provided the perfect settings for sparkly Vampires and hunky Werewolves. If you didn’t know this before you came to the area, believe you me it won’t take long to figure it out.
Forks has taken the whole Twilight thing to the next dimension with just about every other store offering something related to the film & books. Want a Twilight tour? Take a pic at the Twilight high school? Ogle Dr. Cullens Parking Spot? Shop at Bella’s grocery store? Hell, even the local radio station is called Twilight 96.7 and just about every other dog I met on the beach was called “Bella” (I’m not kidding). When you drive into La Push you’ll even cross the Vampire/Werewolf treaty line and get a forecast of the current Vampire threat. Ah yes…you either love it or you hate it…
Rialto, Second & Third Beach
The Olympic National Park surrounds La Push on either side of the reservation and provides three more amazing beaches for discovery and backpacking (should you so desire). Rialto is dog-friendly (first 0.8 miles) and boasts wild waves, massive driftwood and dark bands of trees with a longer hike to Hole-In-The-Wall at low tide (for those without dogs). Second and Third beaches are both dog-prohibited, but provide lovely hikes to sea-stacked gems. Persistent fog meant we only got to see one of these (Rialto) during our stay but what we saw we really liked, and that just gives us something to come back for.
NOTE/ Rialto Beach is dog-friendly (on leash) from the parking lot to Ellen Creek (~0.8 miles). Second and Third beach do NOT allow dogs.
Our short stop at La Push just happened to coincide with fellow Cuban full-timer Hector, his lovely wife Brenda and their doggie Angel. This obviously meant a night of good food & wine followed by a fabulous sunset stroll on our backyard beach where Hector & I went wild with the cameras (if you haven’t had a chance to see his wonderful photography, do go check out their blog!). I love it that we get to meet (and re-meet) RV buddies on our travels. It provides a sense of community that I just never expected when we started this journey. Plus, I’m always amazed at the wide variety of folks on the road. After a long evening of over-indulgence we wished Hector & Brenda well on their way and made jello plans to see them again in the SW desert later this year. A perfect end to our little four-day layover.
On Monday we move to new spots and unknown futures. This time we’re going to go west, about as far west as you can in the lower 48 to explore a unique WA corner (and maybe peek at a lighthouse). That’s assuming the weather cooperates, of course. Will we get another pleasant surprise or a sad result? Who knows. That’s all part of the joy & surprise of RV travel.
- Olympic National Park -> Link to Rialto Beach HERE, Second Beach HERE and Third Beach HERE. Trails and map info HERE.
- La Push -> Link to Quileute Nation info HERE.
- Forks -> Visitor info HERE with Twilight info HERE.