Recreational Boating Information for the Northwest
Covering Puget Sound & San Juan Islands
Discover Pass - What Boaters Need To Know!
Some boaters have been asking if they need a Discover Pass for their boat when visiting a state park. The short answer is “NO”. There are some exceptions like state park boat launches. See information below.
July 1st, 2011, the Discover Pass took effect. The annual $30 pass ($10 day pass) is a fee for motor vehicle access to recreation lands and water-access sites managed by Washington State Parks and Recreation, WDFW and DNR. The areas affected include state parks, boat launches, campgrounds and some other stuff boaters don’t need to worry about.
Most boaters are exempt from all this. Moorage and buoy fees, registered campers and certain types of fishing licenses are all exempt. The pass (at this time) is required for land base vehicles.
The sticky part is boat launches. If you’re a registered camper and the site has a boat launch, you’re exempt however boat launch fees do apply if applicable. If you are there for just the day and not camping or there is no camping available, you will be required to have the pass in addition to any launch fees. Be sure to look for signs as most launch areas should be posted. There is a $99 fine for no pass posted on the towing vehicle if required.
Remember, this is for State Parks only. This does not affect county and city parks / ramps. So areas like Dockton in Quartermaster Harbor would not be affected, it’s a King County Park. Coulon Park in Renton is run by the city of Renton. Redondo or Alki boat launch would not be affected as they are run by their respective cities as well. Check your favorite launch site for more information.
Camping in a Washington state park:
Your camping reservation stub or camping fee receipt will serve as your permit for the duration of your stay in the park where you have paid for a campsite, vacation house, environmental learning center or cabin. If you visit other state parks in the area, you will need an annual or one-day Discover Pass. You will need a pass if you are camping on lands managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Hunting and fishing on WDFW-managed lands:
The Discover Pass is not required for holders of certain hunting and fishing licenses on WDFW recreation lands and water-access sites. For those individuals, a "WDFW vehicle access pass" will be required for vehicle access to WDFW lands and boat launches. WDFW will honor WDFW vehicle use permits that were purchased prior to July 1, 2011, on WDFW lands through March 31, 2012.
State Parks boat launch sites:
You will not need a Discover Pass to launch your boat from a State Parks boat launch if you have the annual Natural Investment Permit. You will need the Discover Pass for boat launches managed by DNR and WDFW and in a state park using a daily launch permit.
Popular State Park
If you're launching your boat just for the day and don't have a camp site, be sure to look for this sign.