The Discover Pass allows you to enjoy nearly 7 million acres of Washington state-managed recreation lands – including campgrounds, parks, wildlife areas, trails, natural areas, wilderness areas and water access points.
Beginning July 1, 2011, you will need to display the Discover Pass on your vehicle when visiting state recreation lands managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The fine for not displaying the pass is $99.
The Discover Pass may be purchased (will be available for purchase prior to July 1):
- In person from any of nearly 600 recreational license vendors where state fishing and hunting licenses are sold.
- By phone. Call toll-free (866) 320-9933.
- When you renew your vehicle license. Beginning in the fall of 2011, you will be able to purchase the Discover Pass through the state Department of Licensing vehicle registration and tab renewal process.
About the Pass:
The Discover Pass offers you access to nearly 7 million acres of state recreation lands in Washington, 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
State recreation lands offer amazing outdoor experiences on diverse landscapes including forests, water trails, beaches, deserts, shrub-steppe, lakes, rivers, mountains and alpine meadows. Millions of acres provide opportunities to enjoy a variety of recreation activities, including swimming, fishing, geocaching, wildlife viewing, hunting, picnicking, paragliding, hiking, biking, wind surfing, rock climbing, boating and more.
When you buy the Washington State Discover Pass, you are helping to keep these wonderful outdoor opportunities open and accessible to the public.
Background on the Discover Pass:
Washington state is an outdoor lover’s dream, and public demand for outdoor recreation opportunities on state lands continues to grow. However, the state’s budget crisis makes it difficult to keep up with this demand. Shrinking revenues makes it impossible for current taxes to maintain existing facilities, let alone develop new ones
To ensure the public may continue to enjoy these recreation lands, the state must shift from relying on tax revenue from the state General Fund to a user-pay approach to pay for recreation. The cost to users is $30 for the annual Discover Pass or $10 for a day pass. Transaction and dealer fees may apply.
Three state agencies are working collaboratively to make sure you can enjoy some of the best that Washington has to offer: Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, Washington State Department of Natural Resources and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Exemption to the Discover Pass:
Your purchase of the Discover Pass supports recreation on state lands. However, you do not need to purchase the pass under the certain circumstances. Download the “Do I need a Discover Pass?” chart (92KB PDF) or read the following information about exemptions to the Discover Pass:
- Camping in a Washington state park: Your camping reservation stub or camping fee receipt will serve as your permit for the duration of your stay in the park where you have paid for a campsite, vacation house, environmental learning center, yurt or cabin. If you visit other state parks in the area, you will need an annual or daily Discover Pass. You will need a pass if you are camping on lands managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
- Hunting and fishing on WDFW-managed lands. The Discover Pass is not required for holders of certain hunting and fishing licenses on WDFW recreation lands and water-access sites. For those individuals, a “WDFW vehicle access pass” will be required for vehicle access to WDFW lands and boat launches. WDFW will honor WDFW vehicle use permits that were purchased prior to July 1, 2011, on WDFW lands through March 31, 2012.
Those license holders will need a Discover Pass to access DNR-managed lands that are developed or designated as recreation areas, sites, trailheads and parking areas. Signs will be posted in these areas. License holders will not need a Discover Pass to access small blocks of undesignated DNR-managed lands.
For vehicle access to lands managed by State Parks, all hunters or fishers will need to purchase the Discover Pass. As a reminder, hunting is not allowed on State Parks lands.
Note: The vehicle access pass is valid for the license’s year (April 1 through March 31) and is issued free of charge with an individual’s initial purchase of a big-game or small-game hunting license, western Washington pheasant permit, trapping license, Watchable Wildlife decal, or saltwater, freshwater or combination recreational fishing license.
- Sno-Park seasonal permit holders: You do not need a Discover Pass to use a designated Sno-Park between Nov. 1 and March 31 for winter recreation activities. The Sno-Park permit exception does not apply to non-winter recreation activities.
- Off-Road Vehicle (ORVs): If your ORV is required to display an ORV tab, you do not need a Discover Pass for that vehicle. Generally, ORVs are non-street-legal vehicles. You will need a Discover Pass for the street-legal vehicle that transports your ORV to a state recreation site. The trailer does not require a pass. Street-licensed vehicles, such as dual-sport motorcycles or four-wheel-drive vehicles, will be required to display a pass.
- Disabled veterans and other State Parks pass holders: Washington State Parks offers pass programs that reduce or waive camping, moorage and watercraft launch fees for limited-income senior citizens, disabled veterans, foster parents and people with disabilities who qualify for and receive a pass. These pass holders are not required to display the Discover Pass while visiting state parks but are required to display the Discover Pass while on WDFW or DNR lands. While on state park land, display your State Parks free or reduced pass on your dashboard in lieu of the Discover Pass.
- State Parks boat launch sites. You will not need a Discover Pass to launch your boat from a State Parks boat launch if you have the annual Natural Investment Permit. You will need the Discover Pass for boat launches managed by DNR and WDFW and in a state park using a daily launch permit.
- Volunteers. Volunteers who work 24 hours or more on agency-approved projects are eligible for a complimentary Discover Pass.
- Those with certain written agreements with agencies. Individuals with leases, easements, and other contracts may not need a Discover Pass if their contract with the agency specifically exempts them from the pass. The agencies are analyzing their existing contracts to determine which ones provide exemptions from the Discover Pass requirement.
Please note: Even though the pass is not required in these cases, your purchase helps to maintain, manage and operate state recreation lands. As funding for recreation shifts from tax support to user fees, the responsibility to cover the costs of these exemptions will shift from the general public to visitors. You also may continue to donate to Washington State Parks when you register a vehicle through the Department of Licensing.