This weekend – and next – are for you. Washington State Parks will be free on June 1, June 8 and June 9.
The no-charge weekend days are part of a series of admission-free days at state parks this year. Otherwise visitors have to pay for a Discover Pass to enter state parks, either a $10 day pass or a $30 annual pass.
It doesn’t sound like much but it can add up, especially on top of other state park fees.
I’ve been at Cape Disappointment State Park recently, in the southwest tip of Washington. It’s gorgeous, with wave-pounded beaches, walking trails among ancient spruce, two lighthouses and an excellent interpretive center. But on top of buying a $10 one-day Discover Pass (I forgot my annual pass at home) I paid $5 to enter the Lewis and Clark interpretive center and $2.50 to enter one of the lighthouses.
The Washington State Parks system, celebrating its 100th birthday this year, is in rough shape financially, thanks to the recession and government funding cutbacks – hence all the user fees.
For those who want to save on park entrance fees (you still pay other fees within a park, including campground charges), here are Washington State Parks’ remaining free days this year and what they’re celebrating.
June 1 – National Trails Day
June 8 and 9 – National Get Outdoors Day
Aug. 4 – Peak season free day
Sept. 28 – National Public Lands Day
Nov. 9 through 11 – Veteran’s Day weekend
National parks offer some admission-free days, too, including on the same days in September and November.