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At the Library: Have a great time in the Great Outdoors

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great outdoors

People fish on the Yakima River on April 9, 2021 near Selah, Wash.

Remember about a week ago when it was 100-plus degrees, and getting into your hot car felt so much like climbing inside a pre-heated Dutch oven that you briefly considered moving to Alaska?

Oh, wait — that may have just been me.

Thankfully, the triple digit temps have given us a reprieve, and just in time for National Get Outdoors Day on Saturday. Well, technically, the entire month of June is Great Outdoors Month, but my librarian lifestyle enjoys specificity, so let’s just talk about Saturday for now.

Besides being an all-call celebration of the beauty and bounty of U.S. state and national parks, Get Outdoors Day is a designated “free day” at all trails, lakes, parks and lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Washington State Parks.

Normally, visitors to these outdoor areas would need to pay for parking, but on Get Outdoors Day, which is coordinated by the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable and the Forest Service, parking is free in a bid to encourage kids and families to … well, ya know, get outdoors.

Pretty cool, right?

But wait. Before you dig out the fishing poles, grab the binoculars or lace up your hiking boots, a few things to keep in mind: The fee-free promotion only applies to this Saturday (and other designated “free days” throughout the year), so you’d still be responsible for camping and other fees, if those activities are on your to-do list.

Additionally, although The Seattle Times reports that “the scale of (Get Outdoors Day) has waned in recent years,” you should probably expect that, on Saturday, lakes, trails and other day-use outdoor sites will likely be busier than usual, as folks take advantage of the fee-free day, not to mention the temperate weather predicted for this weekend.

The good news is that, if you’re looking to get outdoors but aren’t keen to head out along with a gaggle of other folks on Saturday, you’ll be glad to hear that the library’s Check Out Washington passes and backpack kits are ready and waiting for your next outing.

I know, I know: I’ve mentioned them before, but ’tis the season for outdoor adventures, so I can’t help but talk them up one more time. In fact, you can think of the Check Out Washington passes as your free-from-the-library, year-round golden ticket to millions of acres of our state’s beautiful recreation lands.

You can learn more about where, and how, the library’s Discover Passes can (and can’t) be used by visiting the Washington State Parks Check Out Washington information portal at

Or, to request a Check Out Washington pass or backpack kit (which include binoculars and outdoor guides), visit

Finally, because preparedness is next to outdoorsy-ness (or something like that), you may also want to check out one or more of these guidebooks to area state and national parks, hikes and other outdoor recreation:

“Five-Star Trails, Spokane: 30 Spectacular Hikes in the Inland Northwest” by Seth Marlin.

“National Geographic Guide to the State Parks of the United States.”

“Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Washington: Section Hiking from the Columbia River to Manning Park” by Tami Asars.

“The Creaky Knees Guide, Washington: The 100 Best Easy Hikes” by Seabury Blair.

“Day Hike! Mount Rainier” by Ron Judd.

• Krystal Corbray is programming and marketing librarian for Yakima Valley Libraries. She and other library staffers write this column for Thursday’s SCENE section. Learn more at

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