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Parks ready for campers
By PAT JENKINS
Break out the tents, sleeping bags and marshmallows. Its time to camp out.
State parks that were closed to camping during winter have reopened, joining their year-round counterparts. Federal Way has one of each Saltwater (winter shutdown) and Dash Point (all year).
Dash Point is one of 80 state parks that accept campsite reservations. Park officials statewide are expecting a run on the reservation system for Memorial Day weekend May 24-26, the annual rite of spring that serves as a kickoff for the camping season.
Starting today and continuing through Sept. 15, the public can get dibs on campsites. Other campgrounds, like Saltwater, are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Drop-ins are welcome at reservation campgrounds, too, but officials note that booking ahead gives campers peace of mind that there will be a place for them to bed down when they arrive at a distant or popular park.
The states new $5 vehicle entrance fee at parks, which began in January, affects only day-users. Campers pay only their camping fee, though anybody visiting them will be charged the entrance fee.
Reservations are accepted as much as much as nine months in advance by phone (1-888-CAMPOUT) or on-line (www.parks.wa.gov). Payment can be made by Visa or MasterCard credit and check cards. Checks and money orders are accepted for reservations made 21 days in advance.
If camping close to home is their preference, Federal Way and other south King County residents can go to Dash Point and Saltwater state parks.
Dash Points 398 acres include 3,301 feet of shoreline on Puget Sound. The park is open year-round for camping and day use, though the upper loop is closed to camping in the winter. Amenities include two covered picnic shelters and 11 miles of hiking and biking trails.
Saltwater has 1,445 feet of shoreline within its 88 acres. Two kitchen shelters have electricity to go along with 147 uncovered picnic tables, most of them near the beach or along McSorley Creek.
Saltwater is located halfway between the cities of Tacoma and Seattle, whose officials once literally buried a hatchet in the park as a symbol of an end to their mutual competition, according to park officials.
Open year-round for day use but closed to camping Oct. 7 through April 24, it offers dry (three trails) and water activities. The latter includes an artificial reef beneath the Sound for scuba diving and fishing near the parks beach.
Campers wanting to elude the routine sounds of civilization should know that noise from aircraft using Seattle-Tacoma International Airport can break the outdoor mood at Saltwater.
Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, firstname.lastname@example.org