December 12, 2017

Olympic Peninsula Trip - Day Seven

Saturday, September 23, 2017 (Part One)
Day Trips: La Push

We had another quiet night and both of us slept very well. It may not be a traditional wooded campground in a state or national park, but this RV park is very quiet. And did I mention the hot showers?!

Our plan for the day was to explore the La Push and Rialto Beach areas. As usual, I shot a ton of photos, so I'll focus on La Push in this post.
La Push is a small unincorporated community situated at the mouth of the Quillayute River in Clallam County, Washington, United States. La Push is the largest community within the Quileute Indian Reservation, which is home to the federally recognized Quileute tribe. La Push is known for its whale-watching and natural environment. (Wikipedia)

First stop near the marina and First Beach. I never grow tired of seeing the huge sea stacks along this coastline. This one is called Little James Island.

James Island (on the far left), Gunsight Rock and Little James Island.
James Island (Quileute: A-ka-lat - "Top of the Rock") is an island at the mouth of the Quillayute River near La Push, Washington, reportedly named either for Francis W. James, the first white man to climb the island in 1885, though the Origin of Washington Geographic Names attributes the naming to a Quileute chief named Jimmie Howeshatta.
Until the second half of the 19th century, the island was the site of a fortified village. After this, it was used as a site for growing crops for residents of the mainland, as well as a burial site for tribal chiefs. At 160 feet (49 m) in height, the island was also used as a lookout for spotting whales. The island was formerly a sea stack, connected to the mainland, until the US Army Corps of Engineers rerouted the Quillayute River, separating it. Today, the US Coast Guard operates a lighthouse and foghorn for boats coming into the harbor.
In 1966, James Island was removed from the Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Interior Department returned the island to the Quileute people when it was discovered to be part of the Quileute Indian Reservation. No people outside of the Quileute tribe are allowed on the island. (Wikipedia)

This area is dominated by huge pieces of driftwood and fallen trees. I love the contrast between the smooth bleached wood and the lush green plant life.

To give a sense of scale, note the person walking on the beach compared to the size of the fallen tree, which washed ashore who knows how many years (or centuries) ago!

The beaches in this area are named "First," "Second," etc. This is First Beach, looking south toward Quateata Head.

After wandering around a bit, we decided to get some lunch at River's Edge Restaurant. I love this colorful totem pole in front of the restaurant.

If it's on the menu, I order it. This did not disappoint!

The restaurant is nothing fancy, but we had a great view from our table. There must be a lot of fish (as well as otters, according to our waitress) in this harbor, if the huge flocks of seagulls and pelicans are any indication.

More local art in front of the Lonesome Creek Store.

After our very filling lunch of clam chowder and salmon burgers, we decided to explore Second Beach. The 0.7 mile (one-way) trail leads hikers through the woods, up and down the terrain, until it meets the ocean.

Not too many people on the trail. No bears, either. (There were bear-proof trash cans at the trailhead!)

A glimpse of a sea stack through the trees.

Upon arriving at the beach, one has to scramble over an enormous pile of driftwood. Crying Lady Rock is on the left with the Quillayute Needles archipelago just beyond in the distance.
Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge is the central refuge of the three (along with Flattery Rocks and Copalis) which make up the Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Complex, a group of 870 islands, rocks, and reefs extending for more than 100 miles along Washington's coast from Cape Flattery to Copalis Beach. These islands are protected from human disturbance, yet are close to abundant ocean food sources. 
They are a vital sanctuary where 14 species of seabirds nest and raise their young. During migration the total populations of seabirds, waterfowl, and shorebirds may exceed a million birds. Sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, and whales may also be seen around the islands. 
The refuge is within the boundary of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Olympic National Park, and except for Destruction Island is also incorporated into the Washington Islands Wilderness. The three agencies cooperate on research programs and other issues that may have impacts on the resources.
The refuge was originally created as Quillayute Needles Reservation on October 23, 1907, by an executive order from Theodore Roosevelt. It encompassed the islands off the Washington coast between latitudes 47° 38′ North, and 48° 02′ North. It was renamed by a presidential proclamation on July 25, 1940. In 1966, James Island was removed from the refuge by the U.S. Department of the Interior and returned to the Quileute when the island was discovered to be part of the Quileute Indian Reservation. (Wikipedia)

There were quite a few people on the beach, playing in the surf or checking out the tide pools further south. This hammock is pretty cool!

I didn't make it up to Natural Arch at the north end of the beach, as the tide was coming in. It was a beautiful (and warm!) afternoon and I would definitely come back and spend a day at this gorgeous beach.

I'm not sure what the water temperature was, but these four didn't seem to mind it one bit!

One final note: It's been just over a decade since I read New Moon by Stephenie Meyer. I didn't care for it nearly as much as Twilight (the first in the Twilight Saga), but having now visited the area, I may just have to give the book a second reading. 
[La Push] is one of the main settings for the second book of the Twilight saga, New Moon, as it is the hometown of Bella's family friend Jacob Black. Stephenie Meyer used the local tribe in the first book as a plot device to tell Bella, and the reader, that the Cullens were vampires, and in New Moon she added a genetic quirk that allows the Quileutes to turn into werewolves when vampires are in the area. (fandom.wikia)
Click on image for a larger view.


  1. La Push is gorgeous! I would love to take that hike through the woods to get to the beach.

    1. Kathy, it really is beautiful! I was a little nervous about hiking along that trail all by myself, but I didn't see a single bear. :)

  2. What a beautiful part of the country! I wouldn't get tired of the scenery either. And, those fallen trees look just like modern pieces of art don't they?

    1. Iliana, I've been to Seattle and the Kitsap Peninsula many, many times, but the Olympic Peninsula is breathtaking! We love it. Yes, the trees are so gorgeous.

  3. When I started reading this post, I thought 'La Push' sounded familiar. Now I see that it was from the Twilight series. I loved the werewolf stories.


    1. Lisa, I enjoyed the Twilight series and so it was fun to visit these areas that are mentioned in the books.


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