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Washington Sno-Park ticket prices to rise this fall

The prices are increasing due to the rising cost of operating the parks and new locations the program had to open to meet the demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Credit: AP
Sledders slide down a hill on an inflatable bird, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, at Wright Park in Tacoma, Wash. A winter storm that blanketed Washington state with snow moved south into Oregon Saturday and meteorologists warned that yet more winter weather was on the way. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The cost of Sno-Park permits will rise when tickets go on sale again this fall, according to a release from The Washington State Parks Winter Recreation Program. 

Seasonal permits and annual snowmobile permits will cost $50 each, up from $40. Special groomed trail stickers will cost $70 up from $40, and daily Sno-Park permits will cost $25 up from $20. 

This is the first time Sno-Park fees have increased since 2009. The price increases reflect the rising costs of Sno-Park operations, which include trail grooming, plowing, clearing lots and roads, bathroom maintenance, fuel and staffing, according to the program. 

In addition, the program has had to replace aging equipment, including snowcats, along with opening several new permanent and temporary Sno-Parks to meet customer demand. 

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Sno-Park use reached an all-time high, according to the program. Winter recreation staff and partners opened a new Sno-Park near Winthrop, three temporary play areas near Cle Elum and a sledding hill in Southwest Washington to meet the demand. The new parks helped ease traffic, parking congestion and safety hazards, particularly along the I-90 corridor, according to organizers. 

In 2019, the Winter Recreation Advisory Committee, which oversees non-motorized Sno-Parks, appointed a subcommittee to review permit fees. The subcommittee surveyed and compared Washington's fees to those of other private and public entities, and called on stakeholders like ski and dogsled clubs, the majority of whom supported the price hike, the release reads. 

“Washington state has a wonderful Sno-Park program that is a model for the rest of the nation,” said long-time volunteer Karen Behm of the Central Cascades Winter Recreation Council. “The 12-year lapse in rate hikes created constant challenges when it came to meeting demand for services and equipment.”