The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is offering two free days in January, when visitors to state parks will not need a Discover Pass for day-use visits.
The first free day is Tuesday, Jan. 1, which gives visitors the opportunity to take part in a First Day Hike, a nationwide initiative that aims to get people outdoors on New Year’s Day. More than 30 Washington state parks are hosting First Day Hikes events, including parks in King and Pierce County.
The second free day is Monday, Jan. 21, in honor of the holiday celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.
State Parks free days are in keeping with the legislation that created the Discover Pass — a $30 annual or $10 one-day permit required on lands managed by Washington State Parks and the Washington departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The Discover Pass legislation provided that State Parks could designate up to 12 free days each year when the pass would not be required to visit state parks. The Discover Pass is still required to access lands managed by WDFW and DNR on these days.
Washington State Parks will offer 10 more free days in 2019:
- Tuesday, March 19 — State Parks’ 106th Birthday
- Saturday, April 20 — Springtime free day
- Monday, April 22 — Earth Day
- Saturday, June 1 — National Trails Day
- Saturday, June 8 — National Get Outdoors Day
- Sunday, June 9 — Free Fishing Day
- Sunday, Aug. 25 — National Park Service Birthday
- Saturday, Sept. 28 — National Public Lands Day
- Monday, Nov. 11 — Veterans Day
- Friday, Nov. 29 — Autumn free day
The free days do not apply to Sno-Parks. During the winter season, December through March, visitors to Sno-Parks will need Sno-Park permits, which are available for purchase online or from vendors throughout the state. For more information about winter recreation permit requirements, visit: parks.state.wa.us/winter.
FIRST DAY HIKES
Washington State Parks invites the public to start the new year off with a First Day Hike on Tuesday, Jan. 1.
“First Day Hikes are a terrific way to ring in the New Year and enjoy the substantial beauty of Washington state parks in the winter,” said Don Hoch, Washington State Parks director. “The First Day Hikes will have something for every fitness level and interest, including guided hikes with rangers, snowshoe treks, fat bike rides and even a Puget Sound paddle.”
First Day Hikes will take place in a diverse and dramatic range of landscapes and historic features, including coastal and Puget Sound beaches, islands, waterfalls, lowland forests, lighthouses, geological points of interest and more.
Most participating parks will offer refreshments following the outings, thanks to funding from the Seattle RV and Puyallup RV shows.
Nolte State Park: Take an easy 1.25-mile stroll around Deep Lake in the Green River Gorge. Spot woodland animals on this family-friendly hike, and discuss forest and lake ecology with park staff. Meet at 10:30 a.m.
Saltwater State Park: Saltwater’s First Day Hike is actually a First Day Paddle to the boundaries of the Marine Protected Area. Experienced canoeists and kayakers can enjoy the views from the water. Meet at 10 a.m.
Dash Point State Park: Take a 3-mile hike on the beach and through forests with Washington State Parks Foundation staff to learn about the park’s trees, plants and birds. Dash Point staff specifically encourage military veterans and their families to come and enjoy nature in a supportive setting. Meet at 10:30 a.m.