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Get Outside to Celebrate on Public Lands Day

Earlier this year, Washington’s legislature officially recognized Public Lands Day. It’s coming up on Saturday. Here’s everything you need to know about the day and how you can celebrate.

Earlier this year, Washington’s legislature officially recognized Public Lands Day. It’s coming up on Saturday. Here’s everything you need to know about the day and how you can celebrate.

What is Public Lands Day?

Established on the fourth Saturday in September (Sept. 28 this year), Public Lands Day is a holiday for the places we love in Washington.

At WTA's Hiker Rally Day this past February, advocates asked their lawmakers to support Public Lands Day. Photo by Britt Lê.

Public Lands Day

  • Recognizes the positive impacts public lands have on people's physical and mental well being.
  • Celebrates how important public lands are to Washington's state and local economies. (According to the Outdoor Alliance, $21.6 billion is spent on Washington’s outdoor recreation industry, supporting about 200,000 jobs annually.)
  • Provides an opportunity for organizations to engage and educate users about important topics like Leave No Trace principles and the history of Washington’s lands.
  • Encourages the use of public lands by communities that may not traditionally have the opportunity to get outdoors.
  • Allows outdoors lovers to introduce a friend or neighbor to a beloved trail or place.
  • Is a fee-free day. No pass is needed to recreate on state or national lands on Public Lands Day.

How did it get established?

Earlier this year, WTA and the hiking community helped make Public Lands Day the state's newest holiday. In February, advocates who came to WTA's Hiker Rally Day in Olympia asked their legislators for a holiday recognizing how much Washingtonians value their public lands. Hundreds more added their names to WTA’s online petition in support of the bill. Gov. Jay Inslee officially signed the bill on April 30, after it passed unanimously through the state House and Senate.

 On April 30, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill recognized Public Lands Day. WTA staff James Moschella and Christina Hickman (second from left and third from right) were there to celebrate.

A vote of confidence like this from our state’s elected officials shows they are as committed to our public lands as we are. In the future, lawmakers can use this sort of vocal constituent support (from people like you) to advocate for more funding for our public lands, which we need to continue maintaining our state's trails and speaking up for the places we love to hike, explore and visit.

Why is it the same day as National Public Lands Day? What's the difference?

The goals of Washington's Public Lands Day and National Public Lands Day are the same: stewardship of our public lands.  Public Lands Day, though, is specific to Washington. It's a day to celebrate all of the public lands in our state. And, as of this year (with special thanks to the WTA advocate community), it's a holiday recognized by Washington state law! Learn more about the difference between these and the other trails- and public lands-based holidays on our guide to hiking holidays.

Ways you can celebrate and take action

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All smiles after a day of trail work on last year's National Public Lands Day festivities. The day is now recognized at the state level, too. Photo by Stasia Honnold.

Public Lands Day offers hikers the opportunity to become stewards of our trails and lands. WTA is working all over the state. While most of the work parties on the day are full, you can use it as a chance to sign up for a later work party. If you're not volunteering, you can simply go on a hike to appreciate the amazing trails we have all across the state. If you'd like to use your voice for trails, sign up for our Trail Action Network. Or you can try hiking somewhere new or organize a trash pickup on your favorite trail.

Wherever you are and whatever you do, happy Public Lands Day!