The Pierce County Library System (PCLS) is providing a wonderful way to get outdoors—free admission to Washington State Parks.

oly orthoPCLS has partnered with Washington State Parks, the Washington State Parks Foundation, the Washington State Library and other public libraries around the state to provide PCLS library patrons with a “Check Out Washington” backpack, which includes the Discover Pass required by the parks department for admission to any state park.

You may be wondering why the library is lending out backpacks when all they are giving you is a Discover Pass. Well, that is because you get much more than a pass to enjoy our state parks.

Each backpack includes a pair of binoculars; information brochures for several state parks such as Saltwater State Park and Flaming Geyser Park; and two field guides, one to help you recognize the plants and flowers you will come across on your adventure and one to help you identify the birds that you will see.

Fishing at Washington State Parks
Fishing is one of many activities available at many state parks. Photo credit: Ily Goyanes

Admission is per car, not person, so you can take the entire family, a group of friends, or all the members of your bird watching club and everyone gets to bask in the splendor of our state’s natural beauty—not to mention the activities available at the different parks.

“I think it is a grand gesture,” says Edmund Casey – a 63-year-old Lakewood resident who is planning to use his pass to visit Blake Island Marine State Park – about PCLS making Discover Passes available to library patrons. “Real grand. Helps folks like me who are on a fixed income.”

Casey is very excited about his upcoming visit to Blake Island. “Ever been out there? Can only get there by water. There’s boats that’ll take you out there, but they also have a marina so you can sail out there yourself. Best fishing, clamming, and crabbing out here.”

Regular state park admission costs $10 for a one-day Discover pass and $30 for an annual Discover Pass. The library Check Out Washington backpack is good for seven days, and although you cannot renew the loan, there is no limit to how often you can “check out” the Check Out Washington backpack. You must be a patron with a valid PCLS library card to borrow it.

Recognize local birds such as the American robin with help from the library’s field guides. Photo credit: Ily Goyanes

There are plentiful parks across the state if you feel like taking a road trip (or boat trip), but there are also several parks right near Pierce County, such as the aforementioned Saltwater State Park, Flaming Geyser Park, and Blake Island, plus Squak Mountain, Federation Forest, Dash Point, and Lake Easton to name a few.

Each park offers its own specific features and amenities that include fishing, seal and whale watching, camping, fire circles, kayaking, swimming, horse and hiking trails, volleyball fields, wildlife viewing, and even areas designated to fly your drones and other remote-operated aircraft.

Visit the Washington State Parks website for a complete list of the parks and what each one has to offer.