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Washington State Parks and Public Lands Reopening for Family Recreation

Gov. Inslee eases restrictions on outdoor spaces starting May 5

Nancy Chaney

Published on: May 04, 2020

Dash Point State Park is among Washington State Parks reopening for day use May 5, though it will have limited capacity. Credit: Ruth Hartnup/Flickr CC

Update: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced last week that most state parks and public lands will reopen for recreation, beginning Tuesday, May 5.

Washington State Parks Saturday released the list of parks opening for daytime use. Most parks in the Puget Sound area are among those set to open, including most parks in the Seattle/Tacoma region, North Puget Sound regionNorthwest region and South Puget Sound region

Parks that are not opening include those around the coastal beaches, along the Columbia River and in other areas. Wallace Falls, a popular hiking spot for Seattle-area families, is a nearby park that is not opening.

In all cases, double-check before you go that the park you intend to visit is open. Consider having a "plan B" park in mind in the event you encounter crowds at your initial choice.

Some popular Puget Sound-area parks will allow only limited access to ensure the parks don't become too crowded. These parks are Dash Point State Park in Federal Way, Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah and Saint Edward State Park in Kenmore.

As the stay-at-home order continues and the weather improves, families are anxious to head out to play. To ensure that public places remain open, take steps to avoid crowds and prepare for self-sufficiency.

Consider visiting parks on a weekday, early in the morning or later in the afternoon. Go with only your immediate household. If you encounter a crowded parking lot, go to a different spot. Practice physical distancing and give other park users at least six feet of space. (Avoid narrow trails where there is not enough width to do this.) Bring your own supplies: masks, hand sanitizer, water bottles, your own food, a jug of water and soap for hand-washing. Note that restroom facilities may be closed. See more guidelines listed below.

To park in any state park, all vehicles require a Discover Pass.

Original story: Families itching for more places to play outside will get some relief starting Tuesday, May 5. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced April 27 that he'll reopen state parks and other public lands for recreation. Fishing will be allowed, as will hunting (with usual rules and restrictions in place). Golf courses can reopen as well.

“Outdoor recreation is one of the best things we can do to promote physical, mental and emotional well-being for Washingtonians during a time of great stress and isolation," said Inslee in a statement. "Springtime in our state is Washington at its best and people want to be out enjoying outdoor activities in a safe and responsible way."

Social distancing must be practiced in all places, and new rules will also apply. The governor warned that if citizens don't follow the rules and the state sees an increase in cases of COVID-19, then parks and public lands closures may be reinstated.

New rules include the following:

  • Individuals showing symptoms of illness must stay home.
  • Parks and lands are open for day-use only; no camping or overnight stays.
  • Visit parks and lands with only your immediate family; practice social distancing if you encounter others.
  • Boating is allowed only with your immediate family.
  • Confirm beforehand that the place you want to go is open; if you find a crowd when you arrive, go somewhere else.
  • Choose destinations close to home.
  • Bring your own food, supplies, hand sanitizer, masks, etc.
  • Gatherings, public events, parties and sports matches are still not allowed.

More detailed rules apply to fishing and hunting. Check with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for more information.

New, detailed rules will be in place at golf courses as well. Check with your local golf course for information.

Not all state parks will open Tuesday. Once the list of parks opening is announced; we'll update this article.

The open status of city and county parks across Washington varies. In the Greater Seattle area, many municipalities’ parks are open, though playgrounds, visitor centers, sport courts, picnic areas and some parking lots are closed. In Seattle, the Department of Transportation has closed some neighborhood corridors to cars in an effort to provide more local recreation space to families.

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