When the WA State Parks Discover Pass first came out it was for parking, not for access to parks.

The pass was not required for a short bathroom break:

“The new rules allow some leeway. At Battle Ground Lake, for example, four 15-minute parking spaces allow visitors to swing in for a bathroom break or to retrieve belongings they left behind. No pass required.”

Today- the pass is used as a credential to gain access to parks when they are constructed to allow a military style checkpoint at the park entrance.

Before the Discover Pass we had the original Natural Investment Pass. I have been paying for these passes since they came out early in this century.

My parent’s generation introduced me to Washington State Parks in the 1970s. Somehow, daytime visits to WA State Parks were covered by taxes in those days. We were able to get in & out of parks for the afternoon without any requirement to interact with state parks authorities or volunteers. The Park Ranger was the local expert and could provide info on beaches, birds, trees and animals to anyone who was interested.

Today- over supervision and enforcement is the vibe.


Midday April 15th, 2018

I arrive at Fort Ebey to get out for an hour or two. A portable stop sign has been placed at the park entrance. I stop and show my valid pass.

The response should have been Thank You.

We weren’t done yet. Having me stopped was a chance to deliver a mini-lecture/reminder that I should take care to properly display my Discover Pass when I park because a ticket was recently written for someone who did not do so.

I would have just driven on if all I was asked to do is show the pass- even though I do not believe this should be a requirement to enter the park. Reminders about properly displaying the parking pass and warnings about tickets feel like babysitting.

I told the park entrance person that I was old school and that I’d been using the parks since the 70s and that I don’t feel there is any need for a guilty until proven innocent checkpoint to look for parking passes.

If people have done nothing wrong they should be left alone to go about their day. Paying for the pass should mean not getting hassled on the way into the park.

Being stopped before parking to show the parking pass that is required to be displayed while parking (under threat of citation) seems redundant.

More here:

Wondering if something like 89 cents of each dollar collected for daytime parking fees goes towards funding enforcement related warning signs, kiosks, pay boxes, fluorescent placards, etc.

Enjoy Washington’s Natural Heritage

Nobody mans the checkpoint during the offseason. We are free to enter the park & display the pass after parking without any additional supervision or interaction with park staff.

Two Bluff Trails