Free Washington Discover Pass: What You Should Know

Free Discover Pass:

There is always a need for discover pass especially for Washington’s greatest parks and recreation areas. However its price are affordably at just $30-$35 per year, some Washington residents can skip the purchase altogether.

Free Discover Pass

You should know that Disabled Veterans and disabled Washington State residents do not need a Discover Pass to access state parks.

Also, seniors are eligible for discounts on camping and moorage. Foster families do not need a Discover Pass! Hunters and fishers do not need a Discover Pass to access WDFW land.

However, Chelan PUD customers can get a free day-use pass and volunteers can receive a free Discover Pass.

In this article:

About the Pass

The Discover Pass offers you access to millions of 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

The Washington State Legislature and Governor created the Discover Pass in 2011 to offset steep reductions in general tax support for parks.

Also, for recreation lands and facilities operated by Washington State Parks, theWashington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Today, when you buy the Discover Pass, you are helping to keep the state’s wonderful outdoor recreation sites open and accessible to the public.

Annual and one-day passes

  • The annual pass — $30. Good for one year from the date of purchase.
  • Day-use pass — $10. Good for the date marked on the pass.

Transaction fees may apply.

One pass, two vehicles

The annual Discover Pass is transferable between two vehicles. Simply write both plate numbers on the pass. The pass can only be used on one vehicle at a time. Do not duplicate the pass.

How to display the Discover Pass

The pass must be visible in the front windshield of a motor vehicle licensed for street use.

For maximum visibility, hang the pass from the rear view mirror with the license plate numbers and expiration date facing the windshield. However, vehicles without a windshield, the pass must be displayed in a prominent location on the vehicle.

For motorcycles

  • On lands managed by DNR and WDFW, motorcycle riders may carry the pass with them.
  • At state parks: Use the fee envelope at the self-pay station and write the Discover Pass serial number on the envelope tab. Leave the tab on the motorcycle and place the fee envelope in the self-pay station box. For a day-use pass, insert $10 into the fee envelope and deposit it in the pay station. Leave the tab on the motorcycle.


The penalty for not having a Discover Pass is $99. The fine may be reduced to $59 if an individual provides proof of purchase of an annual Discover Pass to the court within 15 days after the notice of violation is written.

The Discover Pass is a motor vehicle permit only

You do not need the pass to access state recreation lands by boat or by non-motorized means (foot, horse, bicycle, etc.).

Motor vehicles used to transport recreation equipment, such as vehicles pulling horse or boat trailers, must display the pass. However, the trailers being towed that are carrying the equipment do not need a Discover Pass.

Boaters will still need to pay for such services as moorage and waste-pumping.

If you just want to drive through state recreation lands managed by DNR and WDFW and you do not leave your vehicle, you do not need a pass.

Discover Pass Exemptions and Exceptions

Your purchase of the Discover Pass supports recreation on state lands. However, you do not need to purchase the pass under the following circumstances:

  • If you are camping or renting overnight accommodations, including vacation houses, environmental learning centers, yurts, and cabins, you will not need a Discover Pass for access to the state park where you are staying for the duration of your stay. If you visit other state parks in the area or other state recreation lands managed by WDFW or DNR, a Discover Pass will be required.
  • Disabled veterans and other Washington State Parks pass holders registered through Washington State Parks do not need to purchase a Discover Pass for access to Washington state parks. A Permanent Disability Parking Permit, issued by the Washington State Department of Licensing, also entitles you to free day use. You will need to purchase the Discover Pass for access to lands managed by WDFW and DNR. To apply for a State Parks pass, complete and submit the appropriate pass application.
  • You will not need a Discover Pass to launch your boat from a state park boat launch if you have the annual Natural Investment Permit. You will need the Discover Pass for boat launches managed by DNR and WDFW.
  • Sno-Park permit holders 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 exemption does not apply to non-winter recreation activities.

Discover Pass Free Days

Washington State Parks offers several “free days” when a Discover Pass is not required to visit a state park. Following are the 2020 State Parks free days:

  • 1 — First Day Hikes; New Year’s Day
  • 20 — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • March 19 — State Park’s 107th birthday
  • April 11— Spring day
  • April 22 — Earth Day
  • June 6/7 — National Trails Day/Fishing Day respectively
  • June 13 — National Get Outdoors Day
  • 25 — National Park Service 104th Birthday
  • 26 — National Public Lands Day
  • 11 — Veterans Day
  • 27 — Autumn day

Please note, free days apply only to day use (not overnight stays or rented facilities).


1. If I’m camping at a state park, what charges apply to extra vehicles I may bring? Do I need a Discover Pass for the extra vehicle?

In Washington state parks, the Discover Pass is for day visits. State park daytime hours end at dusk. If you are a registered camper with a paid overnight stay in a state park, you do not need to have the Discover Pass. Simply display your camping registration on your dashboard.

2. What happens if I park at a state recreation site and don’t have a Discover Pass?

The penalty for not having a Discover Pass while parked on state recreation lands is $99. This amount will be reduced to $59 if an individual provides proof of purchase of the Discover Pass to the court within 15 days after the notice of violation is written.

3. Can I get a replacement for my Discover Pass if it is lost or stolen?

No, we are unable to replace lost or stolen Discover Passes.

Bottom Line

A Discover Pass is still required to access lands managed by the Washington state departments of Natural Resources and Fish & Wildlife on these days (unless noted). Sno-Park permits are still required on free days at designated Sno-Parks during the winter season.

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