Off-season is a great time to visit state parks

  • Fri Nov 11th, 2011 12:08pm
  • Life

By Sharon Wootton Herald Columnist

For years, budget cuts have hurt the state’s park system. Perhaps we should be grateful that there are more than 80 open daily this winter and more are open on a part-time basis. In some parks, services (campsites, restrooms) are limited.

Twenty-five parks are closed until dates in March or April, and four parks are open during the winter but only on weekends and holidays.

Tolmie State Park is open Wednesdays through Sundays through March 31, and Goldendale Observatory is open from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m. Fridays through Sundays, and by appointment Wednesdays and Thursdays through March 31.

Rain and chill aside, state parks in the winter have their up sides, including smaller crowds or no crowds at all. Bring your RV or tent and, at most parks, settle down on a first-come, first-served basis.

If either option is too much like roughing it, go upscale.

Cozy cabins are for rent at Bay View, Camano Island, Cama Beach, Kitsap Memorial and Wallace Falls state parks. Choose a yurt at Cape Disappointment, Grayland Beach and Seaquest; or a vacation house at Millersylvania, Fort Flagler, Fort Worden or Moran. All can be reserved year-round.

Some parks accept year-round reservations: Cape Disappointment, Deception Pass, Dosewallips, Grayland Beach, Ike Kinswa, Kitsap Memorial, Ocean City, Pacific Beach and Steamboat Rock.

Reservations may be made online at or by calling 888-226-7688. For more information on individual parks’ offerings, go to

For instance, you’ll learn that at Deception Pass State Park, the forest loop in the Cranberry Campground will be open this winter, but the CCC Interpretive Center is closed though March; the North Beach is closed through February; and the back and middle loops of Cranberry Campground are closed through April.

Checking first avoids disappointment.

“The Big Year”: The movie opened mid-October nationwide with some new twists associated with it. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology provided 18 audio recordings of 17 species for the film.

It’s the raucous squawks, piercing whistles and the shrill churrs of the red-crowned parrot. Or the penetrating notes of the northern waterthrush. It’s a movie about birds, and it’s a hoot: Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson star in the comedy.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology had plenty of choices to draw from. Its Macaulay Library is the world’s largest archive of animal sound recordings and associated animal behavior video footage, including audio recordings of common and rare bird species, and video footage of rare birds.

No tomorrow: The world’s largest action sports film and the first major ski film of the season is “Like There’s No Tomorrow,” the 62nd film in the Warren Miller series.

It’s time to live your life through the thrills and spills of world-class skiers and snowboarders, including skier Lynsey Dyer, whose segment was shot in Kashmir on the border with Pakistan.

If you missed the Everett event Nov. 3, you can catch Miller’s film at three showings at McCaw Hall, Seattle Center: 8 p.m. Friday and at 6 and 9 p.m. Nov. 19. Purchase tickets through Ticketmaster for $22 plus fees and taxes.

If you attend, you’ll receive a voucher for free lift tickets at White Pass, Mount Bachelor and Alyeska; or vouchers for buy-one-get-one-free tickets at Whistler, Big White, Silver Star and Sun Peaks Resort; and a lift ticket and lodging offer from Crystal Mountain.

And everyone receives a voucher for $25 off a purchase of $100 or more at Sturtevant’s in Bellevue and Sturtevant’s Ski Mart, at its Alderwood location.

Heads up, snowriders: The 2012 Snowrider program at Stevens Pass Ski Area is accepting registrations. The eight-week program runs on Saturdays for youth, starting Jan. 7, and Thursdays for adults, starting Jan. 12.

There are several chartered bus pick-up sites and a discount on lift tickets if you take the ride. Moving from last year’s Tuesday pick-ups to Thursdays allows transportation to include rides to snowshoeing and Nordic areas.

Save $50 by signing up before Dec. 9. For more information, visit or call 360-221-5484 for a brochure.

Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or