Passes & Permits

Many trailheads and recreation sites in the Greenway require some kind of pass or permit.  With the exception of Sno-Park permits, land ownership (e.g. Federal, state) and the type of recreational activity planned determine the required permit or pass.  It certainly can be confusing!  Below we outline the basics and provide links to additional information.

Do keep in mind the money you invest in these recreation permits or passes keeps public lands accessible and healthy. They’re important!

Washington State Lands: Discover Pass

Where:  The Discover Pass provides access to recreation lands and water-access sites managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Washington State Department of Natural Resources.  Popular Discover Pass sites in the Greenway include: Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area, the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area, Tiger Mountain State Forest, and Lake Sammamish State Park.

Note: the Discover Pass is a motor vehicle access/parking pass only.  You do not need a pass to access state lands by non-motorized means (e.g. on foot, horse, or bicycle).  Also additional fees may apply for certain activities such as camping and boating.

When: Year Round

Price: $10/day or $30/annual pass (or $11.50/day and $35/annual if purchased at a license vendor, by phone, or online).  Annual pass holders can use the pass in two specified motor vehicles, though only one at a time.

Where to Buy:  online, staffed state parks’ offices, automated pay stations at some locations,  various retail locations including REI Co-op stores, or when you renew your vehicle license/car tabs.  Consult Washington’s Where to Buy page for the most complete and current options for a Discover Pass purchase.

What does it fund? Your pass fee helps Washington cover the costs of keeping our incredible state parks and natural lands open, and their associated trails and trailheads maintained and safe.

How do you know what is a state-owned trailhead or park?  Signs at trailheads and/or state land entrances indicate the Discover Pass requirement.  The state maintains links to Discover Pass recreation sites in various categories   Also, the Washington Trails Association page for each hike identifies any required pass at that site.

More Info:  Washington’s Discover Pass site contains additional information including a list of fee free days.

Federal Recreation Passes

Where: US Forest Service (USFS) land where a day pass is required. Popular USFS sites in the Greenway include: Granite Mountain, Snow Lake, Longs Pass, and Forest Service Trailheads on the WEST & EAST sides of Snoqualmie Pass.

When: Any time of the year, except if it becomes a Sno-Park parking lot in the winter, then you’ll need the Sno-Park Pass instead—see below.

Pass Types:

  • Annual Northwest Forest Pass – honored at all USFS recreation sites in Washington and Oregon.  Price – $30/year.
  • National Forest Recreation Day Pass and ePass – honored at all USFS sites in Washington and Oregon.  Price – $5/day.
  • Interagency Passes -– honored nationwide at USFS, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and US Fish & Wildlife sites charging entrance fees.
  • Interagency Annual Pass (America the Beautiful Pass):  Price – $80/year.
  • Interagency Senior Pass:  Price – $80, valid for pass holder’s life.  Must be at least 62 years old and apply in person at a federal recreation site that issues passes.
  • Interagency Military Pass:  FREE, for active military personnel.  Eligibility requirements and application details here.
  • Interagency Access Pass:  FREE, lifetime pass for those with a medically determined to have a permanent disability.  Eligibility requirements and application details here.

Where to Buy:  You can purchase any of the pass types at USFS ranger stations in North Bend, Snoqualmie Pass, and Cle Elum.  You may also purchase all pass types except the Interagency Senior, Military, and Access passes online from Discover Your Northwest, and at the retail vendors listed here.  You can obtain the Interagency Senior Pass and Interagency Access Pass online from the US Geological Survey.

What does it fund? Your pass fees help cover the cost of keeping these trailheads clean, safe, and maintained.  They also fund the construction and maintenance of the restrooms at the trailheads.

How do you know what is a federal-owned trailhead or forest? Signs at area entrances and/or trailheads indicate the requirement for a federal pass.   Also, the Washington Trails Association page for each hike identifies any required pass at that site.

More Info: The USFS has a guide to help you choose a pass here.

County Parks and Areas

King County:  Most King County parks and natural areas do not require any entrance or parking fee or permit.  One exception – Marymoor Park in Redmond requires a parking fee, payable for a single day at self-serve kiosks in the park, or by permits for one or more months.  You can find information on rental fees for campsites and other facilities in King County here.

Kittitas County:  No County-owned public lands require a permit or pass.

Winter Sno-Park Permits

When snow begins to pile up at the higher elevations and you pull your cross-country skis, snowshoes, and sleds out of storage, you need to know about Washington State Parks Sno-Park Permits.  Winter access areas require special maintenance above and beyond summer needs.  This includes plowing parking lots, grooming ski & snowmobile trails, and clearing access roads and trails.  Many winter recreation sites require a permit administered by Washington State Parks.

Where: Any winter Sno-Park location – essentially any winter recreation site on state or federal land where the parking lot is plowed.  State Parks maintains a directory of non-motorized, snowmobile, and snow play Sno-Parks here. Examples in the Greenway include Gold Creek and Crystal Springs Sno-Parks.

When: Nov 1 through April 30

Price: $20 for a One Day Permit; $40 for a Seasonal Permit (plus $40 for a seasonal Special-Groomed Trails Permit if needed—see below for details).  This pass is non-transferable and can only be used on one vehicle.

Where to Buy: Online, at the Snoqualmie Pass Visitor Center, or from REI Co-op and other retail vendors.

What does it fund? Your pass helps cover the cost of keeping parking lots plowed and outfitted with porta potties.

How do you know where the pass is required?  Signs at the parking lot that indicate a Sno-Park pass requirement in the winter.

What is the Special Groomed Trails Permit and where do I need that?  Eight Sno-Parks (Cabin Creek, Chiwawa, Crystal Springs, Hyak, Lake Easton, Lake Wenatchee, Mount Spokane, and Nason Ridge) groom trails in addition to plowing the parking lot, increasing operating costs.  Sno-Park One Day Permits may be used for either groomed or un-groomed locations without any extra charge.  However, if you purchase a Seasonal Permit, you must also purchase a seasonal Special Groomed Trails Permit.

More Info: Washington State Parks provides additional information here.

Private Land - Snoqualmie Forest

The Snoqualmie Forest is a privately-owned timber farm located generally located north of Snoqualmie and North Bend, east of Carnation and Duvall.  Campbell Global owns and manages the land.  It allows the public access to for recreation, hunting, and firewood gathering with the purchase of special permits. Please visit Campbell Global Snoqualmie Forest for more information.

More Information from the Washington Trails Association

Our friends at the WTA provide additional information and perspective including a Q&A to help you identify what pass you need and information about passes for Federal lands including those outside the Greenway.