Discover Washington state parks

Spokane County libraries will soon have Discover Passes available for checkout.


Taylor Newquist

Discover Pass sign at Fish Lake in the parking lot of the Columbia Plateau State Park trailhead. Discover Passes will soon be available to be reserved from Spokane County public libraries, along with other recreational equipment.

By Drew Lawson, Reporter

The weather outside may be frightful, but spring is just around the corner. Many students love to go outside when the sun thaws out campus, and that includes taking trips to one of Washington’s 142 state parks.

Since legislation passed by Washington State Parks in 2011 to aid in park funding, all state parks have required a Discover Pass to gain vehicle access. Students and other users have several options for gaining a Discover Pass. According to the WSP official website, an annual pass can be purchased for $30, or a daily pass is available for $10.

WSP divides its state parks into 13 regions across the state. Cheney is part of the northeast region, which extends to the Idaho border on the east side and the Canadian border due north. There are six state parks in the northeast region.

The nearest park in proximity to EWU’s campus is the Columbia Plateau State Park Trail. The 130-mile trail starts at Fish Lake and passes through Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge before extending all the way down toward the Tri-Cities. The trail welcomes hikers and cyclists during the spring and summer and cross-country skiers and snowshoers during the winter.

The five other state parks in the northeast region, in order of distance in miles from the EWU campus, are Centennial Trail, Riverside/Nine Mile Recreation Area, Mount Spokane, Curlew Lake and Crawford/Gardner Cave.

The WSP website provides a map with the exact location of all these spots.
Some EWU students are already utilizing a Discover Pass. Senior Scott Allen, a computer science major, uses the pass for one of his main hobbies: cycling.

“I basically have used the pass in the past for mountain bike events or cycle cross,” Allen said. “I primarily go to Riverside to use it for events out there … Pretty much anything related to cycling is how I’ve used it.”

Allen says that students would benefit from buying a Discover Pass because of the opportunity it presents to get outdoors.

“It gives you a lot of opportunities to go out and explore,” Allen said. “Honestly, I think we live in a pretty neat area of the country. There’s some cool areas to go hiking, biking, anything else … It’s fairly accessible because of the price.”

Students who don’t want to pay money out of pocket for a Discover Pass will have an opportunity to borrow one in the near future. In a story first published and updated by The Spokesman-Review on Feb. 6, Washington State Libraries will team up to start a program with WSP to allow library card holders to rent a Discover Pass for seven days.

Spokane County Libraries will be the first libraries testing out this program, which is expected to begin in early-to-mid March. Gwendolyn Haley, the Public Services Manager for Spokane County Libraries, told The Easterner what features will come with the free Discover Pass rental.

“There will be 11 passes available per library,” Haley said. “They will come with a backpack, Discover Pass, binoculars and field guide.”

Haley went on to mention that people who want to rent this Discover Pass package need to have a valid library card for Spokane County Libraries. The Cheney Community Library, located on First Street in downtown Cheney, is part of this branch of six libraries in Spokane County and will be participating in the Discover Pass program.

According to The Spokesman-Review article, users can reserve a pass online through the libraries if they have a valid card or go into any of Spokane County Libraries’ locations to seek a rental.

If students would rather possess a Discover Pass of their own, they can purchase an annual or day pass on the WSP website. Some state parks also have automated pay stations on location where users can buy either a one-day or annual pass. The spots in the Northeast region with this feature are Riverside and Mount Spokane.

WSP also features several State Park Free Days, where anyone can utilize a state park without a Discover Pass. The dates usually correspond to a national holiday or a day celebrating something to do with the outdoors. The next State Park Free Day is March 19, listed on WSP’s website as “State Park’s birthday.”