2023 will start the year with First Day Hikes on January 1, but that is just the first of 12 special Discover Pass Free Day next year.
The Washington State Discover Pass Program has designated the Discover Pass free days for 2023.
On these days, visitors will not need a Discover Pass to park at Washington state parks and on recreation lands managed by Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
The 2023 Discover Pass free days are:
- Sunday, Jan. 1 – New Year’s Day and First Day Hikes
- Monday, Jan. 16 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- Thursday, March 9 – Billy Frank Jr.’s birthday
- Sunday, March 19 – Washington State Parks’ birthday
- Saturday, April 22 – Earth Day
- Saturday, June 10 – National Get Outdoors Day
- Sunday, June 11 – Free Fishing Weekend
- Monday, June 19 – Juneteenth
- Saturday, Sept. 23 – National Public Lands Day
- Tuesday, Oct. 10 – World Mental Health Day
- Saturday, Nov. 11 – Veterans Day
- Friday, Nov. 24 – Autumn Day
In 2022, Billy Frank Jr.’s birthday, Juneteenth and World Mental Health Day replaced a springtime day (the first Saturday in April), National Trails Day (the first Saturday in June) and National Park Service’s birthday (Aug. 25).
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 expand treaty rights for Native Americans nationwide.
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. Last year, Juneteenth became an official state holiday.
World Mental Health Day was designated as a free day to acknowledge the power of nature to restore mental health. Studies show time spent in nature boosts serotonin, dopamine and vitamin D levels and lowers blood pressure and cortisol, helping our bodies combat stress.
Autumn Day falls on Native American Heritage Day and the day after Thanksgiving. It is the last free day of 2023.
Sunday, Jan. 1, the first free day of 2023, 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.