Discover Pass or Northwest Forest Pass or Interagency America the Beautiful Pass?
We've heard about it from hikers planning their hikes and wondering which recreation pass that they'll need. We've heard about it from land managers, frustrated with hikers using the wrong pass at their trail heads. And we've seen it for ourselves at trailheads - cars displaying both a Discover Pass and a Northwest Forest pass, the wrong pass or no pass at all.
At WTA, we want to help you figure out which passes you need to purchase for your hiking style and your hiking destination. We have created three tools to make it easier for you.
- Recreation Pass Information - A one stop shop for information about all of the trailhead passes and fees that are required in Washington state - plus links to purchase online or from outside vendors.
- Which Pass Do I Need? - A Q&A that will help you to determine which pass or passes are best for your hiking destinations and style.
- Hiking Guide descriptions - Brand New! Most of our Hiking Guide descriptions have been updated to reflect which pass hikers will need.
We're very excited about the updates to the Hiking Guide. Entries used to indicate only that a pass or permit was needed at the trailhead. Now it spells out the specific pass that is required, with a link to our Recreation Pass Information page to learn more.
Most hikes that have content from Mountaineers Books have this updated information. Because there are so many hiking trails, there may be some hikes that are incorrectly labeled, and there are certainly many little-known trails where there is no information at all. You can help by updating entries with this information (click the orange Update button).
And if you're still in doubt about which pass you need, consult your map for who manages the land. The Discover Pass is for state-owned recreation land - state parks, state fish and wildlife areas, and state Department of Natural Resources lands. If you hike in the lowlands or the foothillls of Western Washington, or in the desert area of Eastern Washington, you'll want a Discover Pass.
If you do your hiking in the mountains of the Olympics, Cascades or national forests east of Eastern Washington, then you are hiking on federal land. And for these places you'll need a Northwest Forest Pass (only good on national forests) or an Interagency America the Beautiful Pass (national forests, national parks, national wildlife refuges).
The easiest thing to do is get both passes and keep them in your glove compartment.