Visitors to Washington’s state parks and recreation lands are now required to purchase and display a Discovery Pass for vehicle and water access to sites managed by the Washington state Parks and Recreation Commission, the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The requirement started July 1.
State recreation lands include state parks, boat launches, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas, campgrounds, trails and trailheads. These include Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah and Bridle Trails and Saint Edward state parks in the Kirkland area.
The annual Discovery Pass fee is $30, and a one-day pass is $10. A Discover Pass purchased from a recreational license dealer, by phone or online will cost a total of $35, which includes the $30 pass fee, a 10 percent transaction fee and $2 dealer fee.
A one-day Discovery Pass costs a total of $11.50, which includes the $10 base price, a 10 percent transaction fee and a 50-cent dealer fee.
There are several ways to purchase the Discovery Pass:
- Online at www.discoverpass.wa.gov.
- At nearly 600 sporting goods and other stores that sell recreational fishing and hunting licenses.
- A vendor list is available from the WDFW or via a link from the Discovery Pass website.
- By telephone, toll-free at 866-320-9933.
- At state parks, where staff is available.
- From state Department of Licensing vehicle license agents, beginning this fall.
The Discovery Pass must be visible in the front windshield of street-legal motor vehicles on state recreation lands. Holders of certain types of fishing and hunting licenses, registered campers in state parks and certain others are not required to buy or display a Discover Pass. There is a $99 penalty for failing to display the pass as required. On the July Fourth holiday weekend, public education and compliance with the new pass requirement will be emphasized, according to agency officials.
“The Discover Pass will help ensure that the beautiful recreation lands of Washington state remain open for all to enjoy,” said Commissioner of Public Land Peter Goldmark.
“For less than the cost to take the family out to the movies, we can keep popular places such as Mount Si, Capitol State Forest and Ahtanum State Forest open.”
Money from the Discover Pass will fill budget gaps created by the loss of state General Fund (tax-revenue) support for parks and state recreation lands. Revenue from pass sales will be divided among the three state agencies that manage state recreation lands in proportion to General Fund reductions.
State Parks will receive 84 percent. WDFW will receive 8 percent, and 8 percent will go to the DNR. The Discover Pass was approved by the 2011 Legislature and signed in May by Gov. Chris Gregoire. In addition to providing a stable source of revenue, the legislation provides reciprocal authority for law enforcement staff from each agency.
“We are optimistic that people will support state parks and recreation lands and buy the Discover Pass,” said Don Hoch, State Parks director. “Without the pass to support State Parks, we would have been closing park gates all over the state.”
“The Discover Pass allows state natural-resource agencies to maintain public access to millions of acres of state recreation lands,” said Phil Anderson, WDFW director.
“Sport fishers and hunters have traditionally supported WDFW wildlife areas and water access sites through their license fees. Now, all who enjoy these lands will share in their support.”