La Wis Wis Forest Service campground shows its age. I believe it was first established in 1937, as that is the date on the blueprints of the Forest Service building that is ostensibly being 'renovated'.
Situated between the Ohanepecosh and Cowlitz rivers, it is dominated by towering, old growth firs and cedars. Strange to say, some giant trees have been cut down, with huge sections of tree trunk left to block access to campsites. We were told that some trees had 'root rot' and that's why they were cut down. But I wish if they'd done that they'd continued the task of cutting them up completely. As of now, many sites are unusable because there's big (and I mean BIG) rounds of fallen trees littering the campsites. We counted the rings on one and got to 150.
Campsites are small, unlevel, with very little room for both a vehicle and a camper. Don't even think of bringing your RV in, the roads are narrow, twisting, (sometimes going through a narrow gap between Very Big trees,) one way and if you can find one site/parking spot large enough, the traffic flow is backwards from the direction you'd intuitively back up in. Meaning, traffic flow is counter clockwise and yet the only way to get into the site is by driving clockwise. Let me repeat that, your RV is not going to fit. We had problems finding a site large enough to accommodate our tiny 17 foot trailer.
There are several pull throughs but again, they are 'backwards', meaning your camper door is going to open on the road, NOT the campsite. It's almost as if someone with no trailer experience whatsoever decided, we are going to make the road one way...and he got it backwards. No, you're not going to be able to find a spot to turn your rig around, either.
Most of the campsites have strategically placed posts or giant boulders preventing you from driving or parking in the campsite. It appears to me that the campground was created when people tent camped. If you are tent camping, it's great.
Most sites have little to no privacy. The river side sites are all reserved online, the interior and less desirable are walk ups. There's a strangely large number of "multi use' sites, designated by two tables but still, only enough parking for one vehicle and it better be a small one.
There is no map available. Loops blend into each other without any notice or signage.
Hatchery loop is unsigned and is so very strange. You literally park your camper on the road. We had reserved H11. On the map it looks great, but in reality it's just a pull off the road site, step over a large log and there's a table. No room for anything!
"A" loop has a bathroom with flush toilets and cold water sinks. All the rest are vault toilets. The camp staff keeps the toilets clean as a whistle. The camp hosts were very responsive and helpful, let us change our reservation to the only site we could find that allowed us to park our camper off the road.
There is NO dump station. One is advised to go to the Packwood RV park in town, but when we went there, there were three signs on the hard to find office: a neon 'OPEN" sign, a door sign that said "Back at 10 AM" (it was noon when we got there) and then a note saying we'll be gone for a week." But there's a large RV park west of Packwood that used to be a 1000 Trails but is now something else, that will allow you to dump for a fee.
Now that I've scared you, if you are a tent camper, this is the campground for you. Not having to put up with gigantic road boats or fifth whales make this a tenter's campground par excellence. It's quiet, clean, and if you can, do make the short hike to Purcell Falls. It is steep and very technical. Not handicapped accessible, not at all. In fact one woman asked us if we'd been to the Falls, and when we said yes, she asked if it was accessible to little kids? No way, no way in heck would I allow a toddler there. It's too risky. Roots, slick rocks and mud will send you into the sluice if you're not careful. But if you're a reasonably capable adult, it's worth the work to see the falls.
I did not see a single handicapped accessible site, although many of the sites have a ADA style picnic table.
Many of the picnic tables were solidly planted in the dirt with the fire ring so close that you are going to burn your clothes if you sit next to it.
No electricity, no water save at spigots, and no dump station. but otherwise, if you're a tenter, you'll like La Wis Wis.
- Also Known As:
- La Wis Wis Campground Hotel Ashford