New Discover Pass free days honor
Indigenous people, Black history,
Washington State Parks has designated the free days in 2022 when visitors will not need a Discover Pass to park at state parks and on recreation lands managed by Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
In 2022, the Discover Pass free days are:
Saturday, Jan. 1 – New Year’s Day
Monday, Jan. 17 – Martin Luther King Day
Wednesday, March 9 – Billy Frank Jr.’s birthday
Saturday, March 19 – Washington State Parks’ birthday
Friday, April 22 – Earth Day
Saturday, June 11 – National Get Outdoors Day
Sunday, June 12 – Free Fishing Weekend
Sunday, June 19 – Juneteenth
Saturday, Sept. 24 – National Public Lands Day
Monday, Oct. 10 – World Mental Health Day
Friday, Nov. 11 – Veterans Day
Friday, Nov. 25 – Native American Heritage Day
Billy Frank Jr.’s birthday, Juneteenth and World Mental Health Day will replace the previously recognized springtime day (first Saturday in April), National Trails Day (first Saturday in June) and National Park Service birthday (Aug. 25). In addition, Friday, Nov. 25 will be formally recognized as Native American Heritage Day.
Billy Frank Jr. (1931-2014) was an environmental activist and former chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. His lifelong dedication to protecting endangered salmon and restoring justice for the Nisqually Tribe helped shape Washington’s environmental laws and expanded treaty rights for Native Americans nationwide. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.
“Billy Frank Jr. Day is a day to be outside giving back to Mother Earth,” said Frank’s son, Nisqually Chairman Willie Frank III. “I do believe my dad wouldn’t want us to take the day off. He would want us to be out replanting trees or cleaning up the riverbanks. This is a day for the state of Washington to feel a little bit of Billy Magic.”
Juneteenth has been celebrated in Black communities since June 19, 1865, when enslaved people in Texas learned they were free. The news reached them two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. This year, Gov. Jay Inslee proclaimed Juneteenth a state holiday beginning in 2022. Last June state lands made it a free day for the first time.
World Mental Health Day was designated a free day to acknowledge the power of nature to restore mental health. Studies worldwide show time spent in nature increases serotonin and decreases cortisol levels, along with many other health benefits. Washington is a leader in the national ParkRx movement.
“These free day additions provide a renewed opportunity for all Washingtonians to reflect on the cultures and heritages that make our public lands so special,” said Dr. John Scott, diversity, equity and inclusion director for Parks. “It’s also a reflection of the state’s continued progress and commitment toward creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive experience for all who recreate in Washington’s great outdoors.”
Saturday, Jan. 1, the first free day of 2022, provides recreationists the opportunity to participate in a First Day Hike, a nationwide initiative that aims to get people outdoors New Year’s Day.
About the Discover Pass State lands free days align with 2011 legislation that created the Discover Pass, which costs $30 to $35 annually, or $10 to $11.50 for a one-day visit, depending on point of purchase. The pass is required for vehicle access to state recreation lands managed by Washington State Parks, WDFW and DNR. The Discover Pass legislation directed State Parks to designate up to 12 free days when the pass would not be required to visit state parks.
Note: The free days do not apply to Sno-Parks. During the winter season, visitors to Sno-Parks will need Sno-Park permits, available for purchase online or from vendors throughout the state. For more information about permit requirements, visit: parks.state.wa.us/winter.