Don't know how we manage such mediocre sites :)

Don’t know how we manage such mediocre sites :)

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!

The "sitting area" at our new site

The “sitting area” at our site

View right across from our site

View right across from our new digs

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

Yup, yet another great beach. First Beach, La Push

Yup, yet another great beach. First Beach, La Push

Sunset on First Beach

Sunset in our “back yard”

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

No way to get away from the Vampire/Warewolf thing here

No way to get away from the Vampire/Warewolf thing here

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

Hiking with Polly on Rialto Beach

Hiking with Polly on foggy Rialto 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.


Hector plies his craft

Hector plies his craft

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.

Useful Links:

  • 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.
Last goodbye to beautiful La Push

Last goodbye to beautiful La Push

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62 Responses to A Wonderfully Pleasant Surprise – La Push, WA

  1. Ralph says:

    Glad you ended up with a good surprise at the RV park. Washington State has a lot of “good surprises”..just waiting for you to discover. Sounds like you are really enjoying yourselves. You’ll have to return in the future for more adventures!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yup we were very happy with this park and very pleasantly surprised. It made up for the sardine-packed week we stayed at Westport. Lots of goodness yet to come, of that I am sure.


  2. Lenore says:

    One of your best posts ever! Loved the pictures and the commentary. Yeah La Push!

  3. Gina Morelli says:

    Hey guys! Loved this post! Well, I love a lot of them. This is a fun one for me because, yes, I read the Twilight series :-)

    • libertatemamo says:

      I admit to having read the books too…and seen the movies. I’m a bit of a vampire/werewolf/zombie fan in general :)


  4. Dave says:

    I’m surprised that you didn’t mention Rialto Beach’s “roaring rocks” – zillions of rounded rocks that the tide carries in and out, creating a unique roaring rumble.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Well, well…I didn’t actually know about these! I mean I saw the rounded rocks on the beach (and photographed them), but didn’t notice a particular sound. The waves were very wild the day we went & it was very foggy too so I guess I was distracted. Will have to pay attention to this next time we go. Cool little piece of trivia!


  5. Janna says:

    Love the shot of Hector taking the photo–gorgeous!

  6. Gaelyn says:

    Glad to see that LaPush has changed since I hug out there a couple decades ago, and pre-Twilight. Although the beach was always fabulous.

    • libertatemamo says:

      I think the resort (RV park/lodge) has pulled up the appearance (and probably helped the cash-flow) of the place. The town itself is pretty small & somewhat run-down, but the park/lodge are very nice. They also have a newer community center & clinic so looks like they’re actively investing into the town.


      • meowmomma says:

        Something sad that I learned postTwilight was that the production people from the movies have done nothing to help economically with this area. I asked in Forks once when we were visiting and they were building a new school, thinking maybe it had been financed by “Hollywood”. The person just laughed. Forks actually has (maybe used to have now?) a birthday party /town celebration for Stephanie Meyers and she’s never even come to it!

        • libertatemamo says:

          Well one of the things I found out is that the movie series was never actually filmed here, even though the books were based here. Most of the film locations were in Oregon with parts in WA…just not Forks. The author had a connection, but the movies didn’t. A bit sad that none of the film locations made it to the town.


  7. Jeri says:

    I’m interested in your route from Pacific Beach to La Push. I’ve been to La Push many times but as kid. Hwy 101 circles inland but I’m interested in the coastal route above 109. How was it? We’re heading that direction and are currently in Sequim. I’m also a little concerned if you had any problems with all the off leash dogs. Thanks.

    • libertatemamo says:

      We took 101 all the way from Westport to La Push so can’t really comment on 109 (we never made it out to Pacific Beach). We’re going north on Monday.

      No problems at all with the off leash dogs here. It wasn’t that crowded, to be honest. We only saw a handful of dogs on the beach every time we went and all were friendly.


    • Rene says:

      We have owned many dogs over the 30+ years that my husband and I have been married. Some were very friendly to other dogs, some not-so-much. We have local dog parks and people who frequent them, hopefully, don’t bring their aggressive dogs. Our Rottweiler, Apollo, is one of our more friendlier dogs and we take him to the dog park often. He loves the social time but he also loves the new smells.

      • libertatemamo says:

        I’m a huge fan of Rotties…such big, sweet bears. Used to love training them at the dog rescue back in the day.


  8. You’re making me homesick! We are from Olympia and spent a fair bit of time on the Olympic Peninsula. You take some gorgeous photos!

  9. Luke Alexander says:

    Life is good, isn’t it.

  10. meowmomma says:

    Oh, Rialto….. My very first beach walk… In that magnificent fog, so mystical and beyond descriptive words to help someone understand the sheer pleasure of it if they haven’t ever experienced it. Again alone, but I loved every second of the way to the hole and the pink sea stars there and then back. I will never forget… And tide pools so brimming with life and absent of it last year… changes.

    Flattery was foggy after I made the trek there so no puffins for me… :( I hope you shoot some!

    I loved Forks before ~ but team Edward!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Love the description of your walk at Rialto. The magic comes through in your words!

      We hope to get one (just one) clear day at Cape Flattery, but I’m not getting on it. Lots of fog out here at the moment. It’s still lovely though.


  11. Warren goodwin says:

    Been there many times from Boston. Our son lives in Everett , WA.

  12. Jenny Waters says:

    This is a fun post. It’s good to know that there aren’t a bunch of rabid dogs wandering La Push. :)

    • libertatemamo says:

      LOL…yeah, the town turned out to be so different from what I had imagined in my head. A good surprise :)


  13. Rob says:

    Looks great, you inspire us. Love surprises and I will have to remember this. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Caryl Kirk says:

    ” 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.” I love this….sometimes when I’m reading RV site reviews I’m wondering who wrote it….I think you got the drift…..seems our Indians ancestors are still battling a war that won’t stop.

    Love the pix sand post, Nina! Great job!
    PS still hanging in here in Fla panhandle…I am starting to surrender to what I know is a complicated resolution to our departure. I’ve resigned myself to days at the beach until all is resolved….I can do no more….and that is what it is!
    Signed….resigned in love

    • libertatemamo says:

      Sorry to hear your departure is delayed, although the Panhandle is not too shabby a spot to be stuck (for now). Hope it all resolves for you.


  15. Jodee Gravel says:

    Perhaps the rabid dog reference was a nod to the werewolves? I’m not a fan of the books/movies, but am always delighted when an area has fun with their notoriety (MIL lives in Roswell). Love the B&W pics and the area looks like our kind of place for sure! Glad you’ve escaped from the crowds for at least a bit :-).

    • libertatemamo says:

      Well the “rabid” part was a bit of artistic license on my part, but reviews had mentioned lots of loose/stray dogs. I only saw 2 dogs on my walk around town and both were friendly. So not at all what I expected.


  16. Part of the reason we decided not to head to that area this trip was the lack of RV park options…I’m glad to hear your camping experience was so good, that park will definitely go on our “future possibilities” list! It sounds exactly like our kind of place.

    Add in the meet up with Island Girl, and it sounds like a perfect little stopover!

    • libertatemamo says:

      This is the perfect little RV park for the area. There are other parks in Forks, but none as nice (or well-located) as this one IMHO.


  17. Oh my! That looks fabulous! Thanks for the real review and what else do you want at the beach? I seldom use many of the amenities here at our resort, just the beach!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Me too. We’re super happy to have a large site and such a great beach next door. We don’t need anything else.


  18. Most certainly checking this place out. Sounds like my idea of fun! So glad you found it and shared lots of details. Your photos are beautiful:)

    How nice to meet up with Hector, Brenda, and Angel!

    • libertatemamo says:

      You’d like it here, for sure. Great central point to visit all the famous WA beaches on this stretch of the coast too.


  19. dan says:

    Thanks for the post, and glad you found a nice park to stay. I hadn’t ventured out that far in the past because I did not know of good spots large enough for our trailer. Thanks for doing such a good scouting job. We may stay there in the future. We are still in Oregon for a week or so, in Eugene, Armitage park right now. Side note, they just finished a shower and laundry building here and said plans were to add 30 more sites. Very crowded now with people hanging around for the Oregon County Fair. Kind of sorry they are expanding this park so much! Have a great trip and keep up the good work!

    • libertatemamo says:

      This place is a great stopping point and would definitely fit any sized rig. It’s not cheap (at least by our standards $40/night is the most we’ll be spending all summer), but the location and sites makes it worth it.

      Interesting about the new facilities at Armitage. On the one hand it’s a great upgrade to the park. In the other hand it’ll probably make it so popular that you can’t just drop in anymore, plus the new sites will take away some of the green areas. I’ve always loved that it’s such a compact and relaxed/green place. Hope it doesn’t destroy too much of the atmosphere.


  20. Rowanova says:

    I think it’s nice that you’ve writtn such a great review of the RV park and the area surrounding La Push. It does sometimes get a bad rap, and mostly undeserving, IMHO. I’d rather camp or RV there than at any of the nicest RV parks, resorts, or motels.
    This small town and its laid back mode surrounded by such natural wonder is a true gem in my mind.
    I’m thrilled to see you’ve enjoyed it so much too. Hope the OP experience continues to inspire you. Enjoy the journeys.

    • libertatemamo says:

      I’m so with you. I was kind of worried about this spot before we came given what bad reviews it gets, but our experience was soooo different. We just love the relaxed atmosphere and big RV sites. It’s just interesting to see how differently people assess a place. Then again, I love small towns in general, especially the ones with character (I love the little dusty towns in the SW desert, for example) so I probably have a different viewpoint than most. This place suited us.


  21. Laurel says:

    As you said, our idea of what makes a great RV park and what other people think is great can be radically different. Give us a spacious site, dark night skies, and quiet neighbors and we’re happy campers! (Couldn’t care less about bathrooms, rec rooms, playgrounds…) Interesting review of La Push — (I’ve read the books :-)) — your beach photos capture the perfect mysterious mood!

    • libertatemamo says:

      I’m exactly with you. We’re all about the site and location, and really couldn’t care less about amenities.


  22. Sherry says:

    Wow what a place. This sounds absolutely perfect to me. Definitely on my list. We’ve seen the other 3 beaches with vows to return but never this one. Thanks for the preview and the stunning beach, sea stacks, full moon and Hector and his camera pictures. This is one great post!!

    • libertatemamo says:

      We certainly had a great time. My only wish is that the fog would have lifted enough to make the trek to second and third beach. I would have liked to have seen them. We did get a couple of great sunsets though so I really can’t complain. Its always good to have a reason to come back :)


  23. Just a thought about the bad RV park reviews. Maybe people who love it are trying to keep it from being discovered so they don’t lose “their” spots. It certainly looks lovely!

    • libertatemamo says:

      I think that might happen with a small portion of reviews, but not the larger quantity. At least my experience is that most folks do try to review honestly. I think this is just one of those places that you either love or hate. People who come here wanting a true “resort” will be massively disappointing whereas those who come here for a nice site and the beach (i.e. us) will be overjoyed.


  24. Cathie Dunn says:

    Great photos as always. Fond memories of OP and La Push beaches. Love the close up of Polly! Makes you want to smile right along with her! lol

  25. Doug says:

    It is always a nice feeling when bad expectations never materialize. Perhaps the poor reviews were based in part on the site price? I mean $40/night is not exactly cheap.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Well no I think it’s mostly expectation. For a private park it’s not overly expensive, esp. Beachfront…BUT I discovered another reason for the very mixed reviews today. There are actually 2 RV parks here, both managed by the same resort, both the same price, but VERY different feels. We walked over to the other park (Quileute Lonesome Creek) today and it was like night and day. The other park has older, uneven, tight sites. Not very nice at all. Can’t quite believe they’re charging the same price for it, and I would certainly not review it the same way. I think the reviews get mixed up online…so more of the mystery untravels.


  26. Ken says:

    We love La Push, too – it’s like a home away from home. We go there at least once a year, and often twice. It’s always hard, packing up to head back.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Great to hear you have the same feeling about the place that we do. We’d definitely come back here again.


  27. Nancy Crawford says:

    I read your impression of the Quileute Oceanside Resort with great interest. We had a similar experience last summer. We ended up with a great oceanfront site at the far north end of the resort. Unknowingly, we had booked during the Quileute Days Celebration. We enjoyed a little parade down Main Street in the afternoon, complete with street food and boat races on the river and an immense fireworks show that evening. In addition to dogs, we met people leading several llamas down the beach. (They were part of the parade.) The fireworks show was a sight to behold. As you know the rules on the reservation are relaxed and we saw things that we had never seen even in a professional show — things like burning chinese lanterns floating above the ocean waves. We had a great visit and plan to return. As you noted, the beaches are vast and beautiful with sea stacks and James Island. I agree with you that one side of the resort is nicer and we lucked out with one of the nicest sites. Also you did not mention that there are a lot of A-frame cabins and motel rooms at the resort — many of them also facing the water.

    • libertatemamo says:

      What a fabulous experience! We’re also in the nicer side of the resort and I’ve no doubt that’s made a big difference to how we feel about our stay here.


  28. Brenda says:

    Nina, these photos are gorgeous, I especially love the three at Rialto Beach and your last sunset shot, and, of course, the photo of little Angel. After your review, people will be fighting for space at this campground, lol.

    • libertatemamo says:

      So happy I finally got a good pic of Angel. And of course it was great to see you guys again. Enjoy your travels to Canada!


  29. LuAnn says:

    We have so enjoyed your WA posts Nina. Having not explored this state yet, you are giving us so many ideas. I was wondering why La Push and Forks sounded so familiar, and then you mentioned vampires and the lightbulb came on. So glad you didn’t let the reviews stop you from experiencing a great little RV park. Your photos are breathtaking!

    • libertatemamo says:

      I’m happy my urge to see this beach was bigger then my urge to heed the reviews. It ended up being such a pleasurable stop.


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