On certain days throughout the year, Washington State Parks offer “free days,” days when a Discover Pass isn’t required to visit state parks. Those looking to start off fall on a high note can take advantage of the next “free day” on Saturday, which is National Public Lands Day.
To celebrate National Public Lands Day, the Friends of Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge and members of the Lands Council invite the community to the refuge to hike around the Pine Lake trail and try out the recently installed viewing scopes to see birds passing through during their migration.
Those interested in hiking should meet at 9:30 a.m. The Nature Store, which will feature new merchandise, opens at 10 a.m. and will have extended hours.
Other parks in the Eastern Washington area taking part in National Public Lands Day include:
Riverside State Park: Just nine miles from Spokane, Riverside is a 12,000-acre park along the Spokane and Little Spokane rivers. The park features a 40-mile, mixed use portion of the Centennial Trail, and 25 miles of trails and an obstacle course for equestrians. Off roaders can enjoy 600 acres of special terrain, and those who prefer to stay on the water can partake in paddlesports on the Little Spokane River. The park also boasts four different campgrounds, including one that’s horse friendly.
Mount Spokane State Park: One of the Washington’s largest state parks, Mount Spokane State Park is a 13,919-acre camping park in the Selkirk Mountains. The parks features 100 miles of trails for biking, hiking and horse riding, and in the winter, the 300 inches of snow it receives makes Mount Spokane a popular place to cross-country ski, snowmobile, ski and snowshoe.
Curlew Lake State Park: Eight miles from Republic sits Curlew Lake State Park, an 87-acre camping park. The park features two miles of biking and hiking trails but really shines with its water features. There’s 80 feet of dock and two boat ramps, and boating, freshwater fishing, swimming, water skiing and personal watercraft use is all allowed at Curlew Lake, though it should be noted that a recreational license is required to fish at state parks.
Crawford State Park: To see what makes the 49-acre Crawford State Park special, ignore the lush forest and head underground. Crawford, north of Metaline Falls near the Canadian border, is home to the 500 million-year-old Gardner Cave, which measures 295 feet in depth and 2,050 feet in length, making it one of the longest caves in Washington. It’s recommended that visitors wear layers as Crawford gets hot in the summer and temperatures can drop to 39 degrees on the way to Gardner’s center.
Steptoe Battlefield State Park Heritage Site: Steptoe Battlefield is a four-acre day-use park in Rosalia, Washington. The park commemorates a 1858 battle between several Native American tribes from Eastern Washington and U.S. Army troops, led by Colonel Edward Steptoe. The battle was seen as a major victory for the tribes, and in 1950, the site of the battle became Steptoe Battlefield State Park. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Steptoe Butte State Park Heritage Site: Steptoe Butte is a 150-acre day-use park high above the Palouse Hills, between Spokane and Colfax. Throughout its history, Steptoe Butte has been a wagon road, the site of a hotel and an observatory location. The 3,612-foot summit is now home to several informative panels about the area’s distinctive geology.
Palouse Falls State Park: As its name reveals, the 105-acre park is proudly home to Palouse Falls, one of the last active waterfalls on the Ice Age floods path and Washington’s state waterfall since 2014. The park, about 100 miles southwest of Spokane, offers three viewpoints of the falls, as well as a half-mile of ADA hiking trails. Parking at Palouse Falls is limited, and visitors should expect long waits on weekends and holidays. RVs and trailers will not be permitted to enter the park, as turnarounds do not exist.
Lewis and Clark Trail State Park: A 37-acre camping park outside Dayton, with 1,333 feet of freshwater shoreline on the Touchet River, gives visitors the opportunity to stay where the storied explorers camped in 1806. The park also features 0.8 miles of hiking trails, freshwater fishing and swimming. Tubing, wading and bird watching are also popular activities.
Field Spring State Park: This 825-acre camping park is tucked into the Blue Mountains in southeastern Washington, southwest of Clarkston, and boasts three miles of hiking trails and seven miles of biking trails. Field Spring also features an amphitheater, a softball field, three horseshoe pits, two fire circles and two volleyball fields, as well as opportunities to go berry picking, bird watching and mountain biking. In the winter, visitors can go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
The next Discover Pass Free Day is Nov. 11, in honor of Veterans Day.
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