Free day at the park: Washington state parks turn 104

Photo: Jeff Larsen, File Photo

WASHINGTON STATE - On the heels of St. Patrick’s Day comes another holiday with a more local flavor in the Northwest: The 104th birthday of Washington State Parks.

Sunday, March 19, marks the day. To celebrate, the state is opening all park gates for free access.

It was on March 19, 1913 when the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission was created, allowing the state to accept donated land for public use.

The first major land donation came in 1914 from Bellingham businessman Charles Larrabee, who offered 20 acres along Chuckanut Drive. Though Larrabee died before the transfer was complete, his wife sealed the deal and in 1915, the first Washington state park opened there, initially called Chuckanut State Park.

A host of other parks would soon follow, not the least of which was Deception Pass in 1922, which today holds the honor of being consistently the busiest park in Washington.

That park saw more than 2.6 million visits in 2015, more than 1 million more than the next busiest -- Centennial Park near Spokane.

The Seattle-PI is a KOMO News partner. Click here to read the original article.

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