Washington state parks to visit this summer

Purchase that discover pass and head out to these state parks

By Claire Swarner on June 27, 2021

Washington has an abundance of state parks that are worth visiting. All that's needed is a Discover Pass, which you can purchase annually for $30 or on a one-time basis for $10. We can guarantee, after researching all the parks Washington has to offer, you will want to purchase an annual pass.

We begin our Washington state park quest with one close to home. Located just 18 miles away from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Tolmie State Park is a hidden gem that makes the perfect day trip. This 154-acre park  has 1,800 feet of saltwater shoreline that can be used for diving, swimming, clamming, crabbing, and fishing (license required in all state parks). A unique feature here is the underwater park, featuring a reef built in cooperation with scuba divers. Bring the whole family out for a day of soaking up the Puget Sound. 

For our next park we venture out further from home, but well worth the drive. Located 124 miles from JBLM is Deception Pass State Park. Spreading over 3,854 acres with a mix of both saltwater and freshwater shoreline, this park is lined with coves, cliffs and a high bridge connecting the two portions of the park. If you want to channel your adventurous side, there is plenty of that available too. Adventures include mountain biking, sailboarding and white-water kayaking. It's important to note, this is Washington state's most visited state park, so crowds can be a bit higher, especially in summer months, but well worth it.

Don't let the name fool you, Cape Disappointment State Park is the farthest thing from a disappointment. Located 130 Miles from JBLM and just three miles away from Long Beach, WA, it's the perfect overnight trip to explore the Long Beach Peninsula. While a day trip is certainly possible, we would recommend an overnight stay to really allow time to enjoy the park. Available yurts, cabins and historical vacation homes will make your decision an easier one. The Lewis and Clark interpretive center, Cape Disappointment Lighthouse and the Fort Columbia Commanding Officer's House Museum are just a few of the many places you will want to pencil into your visit. 

If you're chasing a state park that provides more water activities, Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park is for you. Located 213 miles from JBLM and with 73,640 feet of freshwater shoreline and activities that include boating, waterskiing, fishing and swimming, this is a place the whole family can soak in the sun of eastern Washington. Plus the fun doesn't have to be limited to a day, as it's a 3,774-acre camping park. 

For our last state park, we circle back a little closer to home. Located 83 miles away from JBLM is Wallace Falls State Park, with over 12 miles of hiking trails, biking trails and tons of bird watching and wildlife viewing this is a must visit park while living in Washington. And of course while you're visiting you can't miss the 265-foot waterfall.

Discover Passes can be purchased directly at the park, or visit https://parks.state.wa.us/167/Discover-Pass prior to your visit to learn more about the parks and purchasing a pass.