Free entry to state and national parks, forests for MLK holiday — with plenty of snow fun

Monday, Jan. 16, is a free-admission day at all national parks and national forests.

By Brian J. Cantwell

The Seattle Times

You won’t have to pay admission to go for a scenic hike at Deception Pass State Park or enjoy inner-tubing or snowshoeing at Paradise or Hurricane Ridge on selected days this weekend.

State and national parks and national forests are offering free-entry days as the nation marks the Monday holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, Jan. 15, and Monday, Jan. 16, are free days at more than 100 Washington state parks. Those days, visitors will not be required to display a Discover Pass to park a vehicle. The pass normally costs $10 a day or $30 a year. Favorite parks within a day’s drive of Seattle include Deception Pass, Camano Island, Wallace Falls, Saltwater State Park and many more (find a full list here).

Monday, Jan. 16, is a free-admission day at all national parks and national forests, including Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, and Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The two national parks normally charge $25 per vehicle for entry up to seven days. The Northwest Forest Pass, good at National Forest trailheads and day-use fee areas, normally costs $30 a year, or you pay $5 for a day pass.

At Mount Rainier, the Paradise snow-play area is open Monday, free of charge. Bring your own inner-tubes, plastic saucers or other “soft” sliding devices.

At Olympic, the Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area will be open Monday, weather permitting, including a tubing park for visitors 9 and older. Sliding on a park-provided inner tube is $10 an hour. Sliding is permitted at no cost for children 8 and younger at the Small Children’s Snowplay Area west of the Hurricane Ridge visitor center and parking lot. Bring your own tube or sled; sleds with runners are not allowed.

You can also take a ranger-guided snowshoe walk at either national park on Monday (or most weekends through winter):

— At Mount Rainier, two-hour snowshoe walks start at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Meet inside the Jackson Visitor Center (near the information desk) at Paradise. Sign-ups begin one hour in advance of the walks, with a limit of 25 people. Snowshoes are provided, with a $5 donation requested, or bring your own snowshoes. More details here.

— At Olympic, 90-minute snowshoe walks start at 2 p.m. Snowshoes and instructions are provided. Cost is $7 for adults, $3 for youth 6-15 years old, free for children 5 and younger. Sign-up begins at the Hurricane Ridge information desk 30 minutes before the walk, with a limit of 25 people. More details here.

All vehicles entering Mount Rainier National Park must carry tire chains during the winter season. Check the road status by calling 360-569-2211 or check the park’s Twitter feed. All vehicles taking the road to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park must carry tire chains in the winter season. Check the road status by calling 360-565-3131.