A deer hunter enjoys the beautiful country and public land opportunity of WDFW’s Methow Wildlife Area in Okanogan County near Winthrop. (Kevin Puzey)
A deer hunter enjoys the beautiful country and public land opportunity of WDFW’s Methow Wildlife Area in Okanogan County near Winthrop. (Kevin Puzey)

Celebrating National Public Lands Day

Give back to your open spaces on this Discover Pass free day


Any time is the right time to honor your public lands, but September holds a special opportunity to show appreciation for this invaluable resource by taking part in National Public Lands Day (NPLD).

Sept. 25 is the date this year for the occasion, the nation’s largest single-day volunteer event for public lands, according to its organizer, the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF).

Started in 1994 and held each year on the fourth Saturday in September, this celebration sees thousands of volunteers help restore and improve public lands around the nation, according to the event webpage.

Fee-free day

NPLD is also a “fee-free day” when a Discover Pass is not needed on lands managed by WDFW, State Parks, or the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Federal land managers are also partners for this free day, meaning entrance fees are waived at national parks and other federal public lands in Washington, including sites managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Department of Defense, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service.

NPLD 2021

NEEF is maintaining and building on the theme of “More Ways to Connect to Nature” for NPLD 2021.

The use of virtual events for many NPLD site managers in 2020 proved to be an invaluable tool for connecting a wider, more diverse range of people to public lands sites, according to NEEF. So the goal in 2021 is to highlight that diversity — in public lands, people, and the ways people value and care for these spaces — by supporting in-person, virtual, and hybrid NPLD events.

NPLD provides all lovers of the environment an opportunity to show appreciation for these natural resources through trail restoration, park clean-ups, and other events that teach us about the environment.

Get involved

For NPLD events in Washington, you can use NEEF’s interactive map to find virtual and in-person NPLD events near you. The map connects you to event details and registration information.

Additionally, you can find information on how to volunteer at various NPLD events in-person and online using NEEF’s “NPLD for volunteers” resources.

More NPLD info

For a wealth of information on this celebration of public lands, visit the main NPLD website. There you’ll find more details on organizing an event, attending an event, an FAQ, the impact of past years’ events, partner organizations, virtual volunteer engagement information, and more.

A hiker negotiates a trail in the Royal Basin of the Olympic Mountains. (Naomi Gross)
A hiker follows a trail in the Royal Basin of the Olympic Mountains. (Naomi Gross)

Your public lands

When it comes to public lands, there’s a lot to appreciate in Washington and much to explore on a fee-free day.

WDFW provides active management for more than 1 million acres of publicly owned land and over 500 water access areas throughout the state. Our vision is a Washington where fish and wildlife thrive in healthy habitats, and where people experience and enjoy our state’s natural gifts for generations to come. We welcome you to explore your fish and wildlife lands and waters, learn about our stewardship efforts, get engaged in planning and stewarding with us, and make memories at these magnificent places. Learn more at the WDFW lands webpage.

DNR and State Parks collectively manage millions of acres of public lands for you to enjoy. For more information on opportunities on these state agency-managed lands, visit our Life Outdoors webpage.

The federal government also manages millions more acres of public land in Washington through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service. You can also learn more about these public lands on our Life Outdoors webpage.

About NEEF

According to their website, NEEF is a leading organization in lifelong environmental learning, creating opportunities for people to experience and learn about the environment in ways that improve their lives and the health of the planet. Congressionally chartered in 1990 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to complement the work of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NEEF is a non-partisan, non-advocacy organization working to make the environment more accessible, relatable, relevant, and connected to people’s daily lives.

Share your outdoor adventures for a chance to win outdoor gear!

Send us your best photos of how you spend time outdoors! Your photos may be featured on WDFW’s Facebook and Instagram to celebrate the variety of ways people enjoy outdoor lifestyles and to inspire others to spend time in nature.

Enter our monthly photo contest now through December 2021 for a chance to win a Cabela’s gift card! Each month has a new theme and a new winner.

Participating is simple:

1. Visit WDFW’s Life Outdoors webpage now through December 2021 to find out the outdoor recreation theme for the current month: https://wdfw.wa.gov/life-outdoors

2. Submit pictures of you, your friends, or family participating in the month’s featured outdoor recreation theme on WDFW’s website: https://wdfw.wa.gov/share

3. When submitting your photo, select #LifeOutdoorsWA in the category section. In the description area, tell us a little about your experience.

4. On the last Friday of the month, a winner will be selected and featured on WDFW’s Facebook and Instagram. Winners will also be contacted via email to receive their prize.

When sharing your photos on social media, be sure to use #LifeOutdoorsWA!

September’s photo themes:

WDFW lands with ADA facilities

National Public Lands Day



The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.