The cost to purchase a Sno-Park permit will increase for the winter season.
The new fee schedule was approved by Washington State Parks a year ago and will go into effect Nov. 1. At that point, a seasonal permit will cost $50 (up from $40), an annual snowmobile permit $50 (up from $40), a special groomed trail sticker $70 (up from $40) and a daily Sno-Park permit will cost $25 (up from $20).
“We probably should have raised fees sooner and it wouldn’t have had such a big impact,” said Pamela McConkey, the winter recreation program manager for State Parks.
For the past 12 years, the user-funded program has opened several new permanent Sno-Parks around the state and created temporary Sno-Parks to meet customer demand, according to a State Park’s news release. Sno-Park permit prices, however, had not increased.
Cross-country skiers at Mount Spokane State Park will see the biggest impact, with the special groomed trail sticker needed to park at the Selkirk Lodge/Cross-Country Skiing Park nearly doubling in cost. That increase will fund the continued grooming of cross-country ski trails, McConkey said.
“The Spokane Nordic club supported us,” she said. “We reached out to them and said, ‘What do you think?’ They said, ‘Absolutely. This is a great deal for our dollars.’ ”
Tim Ray, longtime race director of the annual Langlauf cross-country ski race on Mount Spokane, said he supports the fee increase.
“It’s basically the only way we could continue with the services we have and hopefully improve on them,” he said in an email.
Sno-Park permits are required at Mount Spokane from Dec. 1 through the end of March. Until Dec. 1, Discover Passes are still accepted.
In 2019, the Winter Recreation Advisory Committee, which oversees nonmotorized Sno-Parks, appointed a subcommittee to review permit fees, according to the news release. The subcommittee surveyed and compared Washington’s fees to those of other private and public operations, some of which charge several hundred dollars a season for one family to access one location.
“Nobody likes to see prices go up,” McConkey said. “(But) they finally got to the point of saying we had to do something.”
At the same time, more people than ever used Sno-Parks in 2020-21, according to the state release. In response, the state opened a new Sno-Park near Winthrop, three temporary areas near Cle Elum and a groomed sledding hill in southwest Washington.
The permits are required to park in designated parking lots with access to cross-country skiing, skijoring, snowmobiling, dog sledding, snowshoeing, tubing and other winter sports. In Spokane, the permits no longer give users access to the Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard resort’s early morning uphill skiing. A separate, $50 Uphill Skier Winter Season pass must be purchased from the resort.
As of 2019, a Discover Pass is no longer required with a daily Sno-Park permit on state park property, including Mount Spokane. A $25 daily Sno-Park permit allows access to all areas, including the Selkirk Lodge and snowmobiling.
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