in partnership
(Image: Courtesy of Gretchen Bossio)

Don't have a Discover Pass? Here's exactly why you need one

I renewed my vehicle tabs last month and during the checkout process it asked if I wanted to add a Discover Pass on to my bill. For years I ignored this add-on (tabs are expensive enough, I’ll keep that extra $35 thankyouverymuch)! But then our family started spending more time outdoors and thus visiting locations that required a Discover Pass. Soon enough the $35 annual cost of a Discover Pass seemed like a bargain! Now, you can bet that I purchase my annual Discover Pass whenever the tab renewal process prompts me. It’s like the silver lining of an otherwise less than exciting expense!

Washington’s Discover Pass is called your ticket to the great outdoors and that’s exactly what it is! The Discover Pass is your pass to fun adventures via access to some of Washington’s most beautiful locations.

A Discover Pass is required to park at and explore state parks and recreation lands run by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Trust me, you do not want the fine that accompanies utilizing these protected lands without a visible pass. Invest in a Discover Pass and display it on your vehicle’s rear view mirror and you’ll get the joy of being outside without any worry. The cost is minimal and adventure is waiting!

An annual pass is just $30 (plus a $5 dealer fee) and a day pass is $10 (plus a $1.50 dealer fee). So, if you plan to visit a state park 3+ times in the coming 12 months (and you totally should!) an annual pass is your best option. You can purchase a Discover Pass like I do during the tab renewal process or you can purchase one online if that is more convenient. Some state parks have automated pay stations that allow you to purchase passes on location, but not all, so plan ahead and purchase online.

Our annual Discover Pass has been the best investment when it comes to outdoor activities. Since the beginning of the year we’ve used it 10+ times already! Living in the Pacific Northwest my entire life I’ve too often taken the beauty of our area for granted. What we have here is unique; it’s beautiful and worth exploring. It is such a privilege to have trails and woods and a mix of ocean and mountain scenery at my fingertips. Landlocked states only dream of what we have.

With a Discover Pass you can access 2.2 million acres of DNR forests - talk about a never-ending playground! These acres consist of 1,100 miles of trails and 160 recreation sites. In addition you’ve got 100+ state parks to explore. Begin your outdoor experience at one of the state parks listed here some of my favorites include Camano Island, Bay View, Millersylvania, Rockport, Fort Ebey, and Tolmie. The menu on the left here showcases DNR land a Discover Pass will gain you entrance to. If you haven’t been to the Capitol State Forest, I’d start there.

But, more than what the Discover Pass can give you, I think it’s important to fully embrace the responsibility we each have to protect Washington’s lands. To protect it we have to know it and to know it we have to be in it. It is an honor and privilege to live where we do and a Discover Pass is the ticket we need to get into the great wild that is usually just a handful of miles from our homes.

I don’t adventure out everyday, more like a few times a month. In the days between adventures I have enjoyed staying connected to Washington land through social media. Follow these resources online to be better plugged in with me! And then, make plans for your next outing! Where will you go next?