Washington State Parks invites visitors to enjoy a state park for free on Saturday, Oct. 10, in recognition of World Mental Health Day. In. Whatcom County this includes Larrabee State Park, Birch Bay State Park and Peace Arch State Park.
This free day is the 10th of 12 State Parks free days in 2020, when visitors are not required to display the Discover Pass for day-use visits to a park. This free day replaces the second of two free days postponed due to COVID-19 related park closures last spring.
Washington State Parks chose World Mental Health Day to acknowledge the deepening mental health crisis across the northwest, nation and world, which has been exacerbated by a global pandemic, civil unrest and, most recently, wildfires.
Washington state remains a leader in the national ParkRx program, with State Parks as a critical partner. ParkRx allows healthcare providers to write prescriptions for time spent in nature. In addition to the proven physical health benefits of nature, time spent in parks and natural areas is known to boost serotonin, lower cortisol and blood pressure and help young people cope with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). While rigorous exercise is also a proven antidepressant, many healthcare providers believe quiet time spent reading under a tree also can improve mental health.
The remaining 2020 State Parks free days are:
- Wednesday, Nov. 11 — Veterans Day
- Friday, Nov. 27 — Autumn free day
Washington State Parks’ free days are in keeping with legislation that created the Discover Pass, which costs $30 for an annual pass or $10 for a one-day pass and is required for vehicle access to state recreation lands managed by Washington State Parks, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The Discover Pass legislation provided that State Parks could designate up to 12 free days when the pass would not be required to visit state parks. The free days apply only at state parks; the Discover Pass is still required on WDFW and DNR lands.
The Discover Pass provides daytime access to parks. Overnight visitors in state parks are charged fees for camping and other overnight accommodations; day access is included in the overnight fee.