To honor the National Parks System’s 103rd birthday, both it and the Washington State Parks system are giving us a gift: Free admission.
Single-day visitors to any state park on Sunday, Aug. 25, won’t need a Discover Pass to park. The pass costs $30 a year or $10 for one day. The 2011 law that created the Discover Pass system also directed the state parks system to offer as many as 12 free days per year.
After this Sunday, two free state-parks days remain in 2019: Saturday, Sept. 28 (National Public Lands Day) and Monday, Nov. 11 (Veterans Day).
Those who end up enjoying their visit enough to pony up for a Discover Pass will gain access to millions of acres of state recreation lands, including:
- More than 100 developed state parks
- More than 350 primitive recreation sites, including campgrounds and picnic areas
- Nearly 700 water-access points
- Nearly 2,000 miles of designated water and land recreation trails
- More than 80 natural areas
- More than 30 wildlife areas
Not sure which state park to check out on the free day? Here are a few our travel writers have visited and loved:
- Cama Beach State Park, a rustic resort with the state park system’s biggest cabin site, which recently moved its reservation system online
- Dash Point State Park, where you’ll find saltwater wonders and island views
- Potholes Reservoir, a desert oasis full of wildlife, geological marvels and sand dunes that beg to be climbed
- Deception Pass State Park, with its many hiking trails, beaches, coves and views of the Deception Pass bridge
- Fort Flagler, a huge but hidden gem on Marrowstone Island overlooking Admiralty Inlet
- Columbia Hills State Park, featuring a grand combination of history, artifacts and eye-popping scenery in the Columbia River Gorge
Washington also has three national parks: Mount Rainier, Olympic and North Cascades.
Not all national parks charge entrance fees, but those that do offer several options, including a private-vehicle pass that costs $30 and is valid for seven consecutive days or an $80 annual pass good for the entire park system. Additionally, both Mount Rainier and Olympic National Park offer $55, park-specific annual passes.