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War of the Sno-Parks

Posted by Susan Elderkin at Nov 17, 2010 03:55 PM |

Washington and Oregon tussle over a 30-year reciprocal agreement to honor Sno-Parks passes.


As we were writing this yesterday, Governor Christine Gregoire issued an order suspending the decision to end the agreement. Doing so would have required a change to the Administrative Code. Oregon Sno-Park permits will be accepted in Washington this year. We're still looking into whether Washington permits can be used in Oregon, which made a decision to end the reciprocity agreement pre-emptively in October. According to the Oregon DMV website, they will only accept Sno-Park permits from Idaho and California. Read the update in the Vancouver Columbian.


A thirty-year reciprocal agreement between Washington and Oregon to honor each other's Sno-Park permits has ended.

As of November 1, Washington State Sno-Park permits are no longer valid in Oregon. Washington is expected to follow suit on Friday, according to the Outdoors Blog at the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

It's all about the money. The reciprocal agreement has not necessarily favored Washington. Oregon Sno-Park permits are significantly less expensive than are Washington Sno-Park permits. With Oregon residents required to purchase the pricier Washington permit, it is possible that Washington will generate more money to pay for its winter recreation program.

With a major winter storm bearing down on the Cascades and Olympics, it is going to be prime time for winter recreation. Sno-Parks provide cleared parking areas for winter recreationists in close proximity to groomed and/or backcountry trails.

The cost of a Washington Sno-Park pass is steep for one-time users, but more affordable for snow enthusiasts who return several times per year. For non-motorized Sno-Parks, the costs are:

  • One-day permit; $20 for groomed & ungroomed Sno-Parks
  • Seasonal permit: $40 for ungroomed Sno-Parks
  • Groomed trails permit: $40 add-on to the seasonal permit, allowing the user to park at Cabin Creek, Chiwawa, Crystal Springs, Hyak, Lake Easton, Lake Wenatchee, Mount Spokane and Nason Ridge Sno-Parks. Funds from its sale pay for more frequent trail grooming at these Sno-Parks and the maintenance and replacement of snow grooming equipment owned by Washington State Parks.

They can be purchased online or (for $1 extra) at several vendors.

Still want to play in the snow in Oregon, even if it costs you more? There it will cost you only $4 per day, $9 for three days or $25 annually. These fees are also required for downhill areas, giving the state a much broader base of sales.


State charges extra for on-foot sno-park use?

Susan, can you confirm that snowmobile owners can purchase the $40 seasonal permit you described in this post *and* a year of registration of one snowmobile for $15.75 or $33.75, depending on the age of the machine? If so, what's your and WTA's position on the state charging people extra to park their vehicles at a sno-park when they don't own a snowmobile?

Posted by:

Phil Mocek on Nov 17, 2010 07:24 PM

Posted by:

Phil Mocek on Jan 12, 2011 03:49 PM

Washington-Oregon Sno-Park Reciprocity Will Continue

Susan, this is outdated and incorrect. Washington's flirtation with ending Sno-Park permit reciprocity with Oregon ended yesterday when Governor Gregoire issued an order suspending the state rule-making process through 2011. Ending reciprocity would have required a change to the Washington Administrative Code. Therefore, Oregon Sno-Park permits on Oregon-licensed vehicles will be legal in Washington and vice versa.

Posted by:

Sunrise Creek on Nov 18, 2010 09:05 AM

Washington-Oregon Sno-Park Reciprocity Will Continue

Thanks for the update. It looks like the decision was made as we went to press yesterday. May I ask where you learned that Oregon will accept Washington passes this winter? Was its October decision to end the reciprocity agreement contingent upon Washington doing the same? According to the OR DMV, they will only be accepting passes from Idaho & California. Thanks!

Posted by:

Susan Elderkin on Nov 18, 2010 11:36 AM