Discover Pass Starts July 1
It's time to buy another pass for your glove compartment. Starting July 1, the Discover Pass will be required at all state parks, recreation areas and wildlife lands
Just in time for the big Fourth of July weekend, hikers and visitors to Washington's state parks and natural areas will need to have a Discover Pass starting Friday, July 1.
If you've been following this blog, you have been hearing about this pass for months. In order to stave off large-scale park and recreation area closures due to a massive state budget deficit, the Washington legislature enacted a new recreation pass for all state lands. If this is news to you, check out the state's Discover Pass website to learn more about it.
Now it is time to pay up or play elsewhere.
If you are headed to a state park (or Mount Si and a number of other hiking destinations) for the Fourth of July weekend, you'll need the Discover Pass. I wouldn't count on being able to buy one at the trailhead, even if it is in a state park. I've been told only "certain staffed state parks" will have these for sale.
So head to your local sporting goods store or check this website to find a vendor closest to your home. Also, don't be surprised when the $30 annual pass costs you $35 after the vendors have tacked on fees (the $10 daily pass can cost up to $11.50 after fees). And remember that the Discover Pass is only for one vehicle. If you're bring your in-laws and nieces and nephews to a state park in a second car, you'll need to buy an extra daily or annual pass.
No comprehensive list of Discover Pass locations has yet to be compiled by the agencies. WTA has taken a preliminary stab at mapping many of the hikes from our Hiking Guide, so you could start there to see which qualify. Do note that the passes will be required at all 100 developed state parks, 350 "primitive recreation sites," and state water access points, natural areas and wildlife areas. A daily Discover Pass is included in state park campground reservations for one car. The fine for non-compliance is $99, though it is highly unlikely that officers will be writing tickets this weekend.
I'll leave you to your holiday planning with one tiny bit of unadvertised Discover Pass intel. According to the legislation, each developed recreation site is required to designate short term parking "not to exceed 30 minutes." Even without a Discover Pass on your dashboard, you should be able to pull into a state park to use the restroom or to do a quick check to see if it would be a place you'd like to return to.