youtubeWashington is well known for its many historic and scenic State Parks across the state offering day use areas and campgrounds. What many don’t know is that they also oversee the states Sno-Parks and offer activities like First Day Hikes and Adventure Labs.

Let’s take a look at these lesser-known features of Washington State Parks:

Sno-Parks are parking lots that are kept cleared of snow during the winter months. Most serve as staging areas for winter motorized activities like snowmobiling, tracked ATVs, snow biking and non-winterized sports like dog sledding, snowshoeing, back-country skiing, cross country skiing, snowboarding, fat-tire biking or just good old fashion playing in the snow. There are also designated snow play sno-parks with maintained tubing hills. Currently there are over 120 sno-parks available statewide. Many allow overnight camping and also allow you to park an RV for the day if you want to take the family out to play in the snow.

Take the RV!

What better place to retreat after playing in the snow than the warmth of an RV. In addition to somewhere to warm up, you can also enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, a change of clothes and a hot shower. Bring along an outdoor firepit and enjoy roasting S’mores after dinner. Many sno-parks are open through April, long after the snow begins to melt, providing a place to spring camp too. Parking permits are required for all sno-parks. Learn more about the Washington State Parks Winter Recreation program and how to obtain a permit here.

One of Many Sno-Parks

First Day Hikes – Per the American Hiking Society: “First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks to encourage people to get outdoors.  On New Year’s Day, hundreds of free, guided hikes will be organized in all 50 states.  Kids and adults all across America will be participating in First Day Hikes, getting their hearts pumping and enjoying the beauty of a state park.  Last year nearly 55,000 people rang in the New Year, collectively hiking over 133,000 miles throughout the country!”

Multiple Washington State Parks across the state offer First Day Hikes. Per Washington State Park’s website: “First Day Hikes offers an experience for everyone to get outside and enjoy our beautiful state parks. Participate in ranger and staff-led hikes, dog strolls, cross-country ski trips and more offered at 40+ parks on New Year's Day. When you are done, don't forget to pick up your free, collectible Washington State Parks 2022 First Day Hikes pin! All hikes are free and you will NOT need a Discover Pass on Jan. 1, our first Washington State Parks Free Day of 2022.”

This is a great opportunity take the RV out over New Years, learn something new from a ranger and work off some of those calories consumed over the Holidays. While it might be a bit too cold and snowy in Eastern Washington to take the RV camping, many parks in more temperate Western Washington offer campsites and first day hikes. Click here for a national listing of first day hikes including Washington.

Adventure Labs - Are similar in nature to geocaching which has been taking place in state parks for more than 20 years. Washington State Parks have taken geocaching to the next level with “Adventure Labs”.  According to State Parks, “Adventure Lab is a free location-based digital treasure hunt. It’s fun for all ages and a great activity for social distancing. Designed similar to existing geocaching activities, these Adventures will guide you throughout 10 Washington state parks in Island County as you solve questions using physical features within the landscape. With this new kind of interactive experience, you can safely discover the world around you while touching only your mobile phone.” 

Adventure Lab

Many of the Island County parks included in the Adventure Lab include year-round campgrounds giving you one more reason to take the family RV camping.

It is our hope that you will take part in one of these lesser known features offered by Washington State Parks with your RV in the weeks and months to come. For more information on Washington State Parks stop by their booth or sit in on one of their seminars at the 2022 Seattle RV Show February 17th – 20th at Lumen Field Event Center.

Dave Helgeson
Author: Dave HelgesonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Dave Helgeson is the MHRV Show Director. He and his wife love to travel across the west in their RV. Dave writes about all things RVing but loves to share destinations and boondocking advice.


0 #2 D Helgeson 2021-12-29 20:22
Quoting Donald A Hoch:
Thank you, Dave, for all you do. Your publications have been very informative and enjoyable to read. The RV Shows have also been very well operated and organized.
Keep up the good work!
Don Hoch, Acting Director - Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission

Don, Glad you enjoy my articles. State Parks have way more to offer than most people know. Thank you for your kind comments. Hope to see you in person before your retire again! DAVE
0 #1 Donald A Hoch 2021-12-29 01:54
Thank you, Dave, for all you do. Your publications have been very informative and enjoyable to read. The RV Shows have also been very well operated and organized.
Keep up the good work!
Don Hoch, Acting Director - Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission

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