about washington state parks
Established in 1913, the park system has grown to include over 124 parks as the demand for outdoor recreation spaces has steadily increased. By the early 2000s, annual attendance grew to 58 million visitors—40 percent more visitors than the previous decade. Funding for state parks has not kept up with the increased traffic—an issue that is front of mind for current park leadership.1
The state parks’ primary audience is middle-class families and young, urban professionals seeking day use. Washington state’s population is predicted to increase by 20 percent over the next 20 years, and the population is growing increasingly more diverse, urban, and old. Participation rates in outdoor recreation are already low among the elderly and some ethnic and racial minorities—in order to meet its mission of connecting all Washingtonians with their state’s land, the agency must ensure it welcomes all people.