Most people associate the Discover Pass with Washington State Parks, but gaining access to state parks is only a snippet of what the Discover Pass can provide to an active RVer. The Discover Pass also provides access to nearly 1 million acres of land managed by the WDFW (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife) AND 2.2 million acres of land managed by DNR (Department of Natural Resources). Both agencies offer access to hundreds of opportunities to recreate and camp on state land via the Discover Pass. Overnight camping is no cost, but you must display your pass to enter and camp on state land.
Let’s take a look:
The mission of WDFW is to preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities. WDFW manages recreation land for visitors to enjoy a variety of activities, including fishing, boating, hunting, wildlife viewing, hiking, camping and many others. The WDFW manages 33 other wildlife areas along with 700 water access sites across the state.
Wildlife areas: Wildlife Areas provide habitat for fish and wildlife as well as land for outdoor recreation. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people visit these areas to camp, hike, fish and enjoy other outdoor activities compatible with fish and wildlife stewardship. These activities, in turn, support local economies and contribute to Washington’s wildlife-related recreation industry. Click here to find a listing of the 33 wildlife areas and the ones that allow camping.
Water Access Sites: WDFW maintains Water Access Sites throughout Washington state offering boaters and bank fisherman access to lakes and waterways. This link will allow you to search for any water access points under WDFW jurisdiction. You can search by site name, body of water or county. By clicking on one of the sites listed from your search you will be provided with the following information: location (complete with coordinates and driving instructions), facilities (restrooms, boat ramps, docks, ADA access, etc), contact info, and most importantly if camping is permitted. Quite often there is even a picture of the access site.
This Link will provide you with a matrix of all access sites and facilities in the Columbia Basin operated by the WDFW. The matrix conveniently displays the name of the facility site, location and available facilities including; boat launch, toilet and if you can camp or not. Fortunately the majority of the sites permit camping!
DNR seeks to provide outdoor recreation opportunities to the public throughout Washington state. The agency provides trails and campgrounds in a primitive, natural setting. Most recreation on these lands takes place in the 2.2 million acres of forests that DNR manages as state trust lands. DNR manages 1,100 miles of trails, 143 recreation sites, and a wide variety of landscapes across the state.
DNR offers hundreds of campgrounds across the state with access to miles of designated trails. Depending on where you go you will find trails for hiking, motorcycles, mountain biking, ATV riding, boating, horseback riding and four wheel drive enthusiasts allowing you to camp and enjoy your favorite form of recreation from one convenient location.
Most DNR campgrounds offer a camping experience similar to national forest campgrounds offering a designated space with a picnic table and fire ring. Some DNR campgrounds are even equipped with a group shelter, potable water and accessorized to support designated trail users. (i.e. corrals for horse users, loading ramps for ATV users). As with most national forest service campgrounds, pack it in – pack it out applies regarding your trash.
Click here for a State-wide Recreation Map showing all of the DNR lands and the allowed activities, including camping.
Click here for a complete listing of DNR Managed lands which allows you to search by region and see which campgrounds are currently open or closed. The link will also allow you to view a detailed map of the region showing the recreational opportunities that await you. To see an example click here for a detailed map of Southwest Washington DNR managed lands.
Make the most of your Discover Pass by camping at no cost in Washington DNR or WDFW areas and enjoying the recreational opportunities they provide.