La Push

La Push is the home of the Quileute Nation, located at the mouth of the Quillayute River on the Olympic Coast of Washington State.

The nearby waters of the Pacific Ocean teem with salmon, cod and other prey. Diverse and abundant marine mammal species are found here, including a thriving population of sea otters.

Gray whales, orcas and other cetaceans are commonly seen. Marine mammals play a key role in Quileute stories, songs, dances, and art.

Where the Whales Are

The mouth of the Quillayute River is home to herring, smelt and crabs. Look for sea lions, seals and river otters in the channel, hunting their next meal. (The bird life here is also fantastic!)

During April and May, hundreds of migrating gray whales pass through the bay, feeding on the nutrient-rich sediments of First Beach. You might see them sharing the waves with surfers and seals. Each spring, the Quileute Tribal School hosts a ceremony to welcome the whales back to La Push.

Orcas regularly pass by, and often come right into the bay. Orcas and wolves play a central role in Quileute stories, songs and dances.

Once hunted to extinction, a small group of sea otters was transplanted to nearby James Island in 1970. From an initial size of 30, they have grown to a population of over 1,000. They rarely come ashore, but you may see them bobbing in the kelp.

A few miles offshore, the steep drop-off of the continental shelf creates an upwelling, which attracts many kinds of dolphins and whales. Humpbacks, fin whales and blue whales are increasingly seen in these waters.

Welcome the Whales

Each spring, the Quileute Tribal School hosts a ceremony to welcome the whales to La Push. Typically occurring in mid to late April, the celebration is open to the public. Check the Tribe's website for specific dates, times and updates.

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  1. Crystal Winter-Power : 11 September 2013 2:50PM

    I just woke from a dream.

    I saw and heard people, native people, calling back the whales…

    I heard the drumming, I saw the water, I was a bone being used to make the drumming sound that vibrated through the water…

    I heard the words…someone spoke them first, then I repeated them…as the drumming continued…

    But they did not come….

    they were all gone.

  2. Connie Miller : 15 March 2013 3:55PM

    We are going to be visiting again on the weekend of the 23 of march for our 25th anniversary. We moved to WA a year ago and this will be out third trip to La Push. We were wondering when the calling of the whales ceremony will be this year? Thank you and we look forward to our time there.

    • donna : 15 March 2013 5:31PM

      Hi Connie,
      The Quileute Tribe is hosting their Welcoming the Whales ceremony on April 10th this year. The ceremony begins at 10 AM, followed by lunch, singing and storytelling in the Akalat Center at 1 pm. More information here. If there’s any way you can make it…do! It is a fantastic event to witness, and be part of.
      If that doesn’t work for the dates you’ve planned, be sure to watch for whales when you are out there anyway. Gray whales often come right into the bay this time of year. Good luck, have fun, and Happy Anniversary!
      Donna (The Whale Trail)

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The Whale Trail

Address / Contact

Quileute Nation

La Push, Washington

The Quileute Nation

Whale Trail Features

The Whale Trail site is at the north end of First Beach

Marine Mammals Commonly Seen Here

Marine Mammals Occasionally Seen Here

Marine Mammals Rarely Seen Here

Travel Tips

The Tribe offers accommodations ranging from campsites and RV hookups to a hotel.
Cell phone coverage is very limited.

The Whale Trail is a nonprofit organization in partnership with
Partners NOAA Seattle Aquarium People for Puget Sound Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife The Whale Museum National Marine Sanctuaries