As the snow slowly builds up, Washington State Parks’ winter recreation program will begin opening its sno-parks located across the region.
The sno-parks offer access to cross-country and downhill skiing, skijoring, snowmobiling, dog sledding, snowshoeing and tubing. Working with federal agencies, private landowners and other state agencies, State Parks administers this program in seven national forests and blocks of state and private forest land.
In addition to sno-parks, five major highway passes, kept open to normal traffic in winter, provide easy access to play sites and trailheads.
The winter recreation program manages two types of sno-parks.
Snowmobile sno-parks are open to both motorized and nonmotorized winter recreation.
Nonmotorized sno-parks are only open to winter recreation sports such as cross-country skiing, dog sledding, snowshoeing and snow play.
What visitors have to pay attention to is knowing what pass to have when planning to use a sno-park.
Visitors to Washington state parks and state recreation lands managed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Natural Resources are required to display the Discover Pass on their vehicles. However, if you have a current seasonal sno-park permit, you will not need to purchase a Discover Pass to use a designated sno-park through March 31 for winter recreation activities. However, your sno-park permit may not be used to access other state lands.
If you plan to use a daily sno-park permit, you also will need a one-day or annual Discover Pass when visiting Crystal Springs, Easton Reload and Hyak sno-parks, Fields Spring, Lake Easton, Lake Wenatchee and Mount Spokane state parks and the Mount Tahoma Trail System.
If you have a sno-park seasonal permit, you do not need a Discover Pass to snowshoe within state parks. However, if you purchase a sno-park day permit you will also need either a day or annual Discover Pass.
Use of four DNR-managed winter recreation trails, once part of the sno-park system, now requires only a Discover Pass. They are Ahtanum Guard Station, Ahtanum Meadows, Lily Lake and Rattlesnake.
Sno-park day Permit: $20 per day. Day permits are valid at any sno-park location, including special groomed trail locations, until midnight of the purchase date.
Seasonal Permit: $40 per season. Seasonal permits are valid at all sno-park locations except those designated as special groomed trail locations. If you know you’ll be going out two or more times, buying a seasonal permit will save you money.
Special Groomed Trails Permit: $40 per season add-on. This optional add-on to the seasonal permit allows you to park at Cabin Creek, Chiwawa, Crystal Springs, Hyak, Lake Easton, Lake Wenatchee, Mount Spokane and Nason Ridge, where trails are groomed for cross-country skiers. If you won’t be using those locations, though, it’s best to skip it.
Discover Pass: $10 a day or $30 a year. discoverpass.wa.gov
General information: Go to parks.wa.gov/winter.