OLYMPIA — State and national parks will offer free entrance later this week in honor of the National Park Service’s centennial.
Day-use entrance to Olympic National Park will be free from Thursday through Sunday, while the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is offering free entrance to state parks on Thursday only.
Day-use visitors will not need a Discover Pass to visit state parks that day.
The Olympic National Park entrance fee of $25 per automobile, $15 per motorcycle and $10 per hiker or bicyclist will be waived for four days.
The National Park Service was established Aug. 25, 1916.
“This is a very special year for the National Park System, as it celebrates its 100th anniversary,” said Don Hoch, director of Washington State Parks.
“We want to acknowledge and honor this milestone. Washington State Parks and the National Park Service share common goals — to preserve and protect natural and cultural resources and to provide public access to these special lands for generations to come.”
State parks on the North Olympic Peninsula are Bogachiel near Forks, Dosewallips near Brinnon, Fort Flagler on Marrowstone Island, Fort Townsend and Fort Worden in Port Townsend, Anderson Lake State Park near Chimacum and Sequim Bay near Sequim.
The Discover Pass is a $30 annual or $10 one-day permit required on recreation lands managed by State Parks, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the state Department of Natural Resources.
The free days apply only at state parks found at www.parks.wa.gov; the Discover Pass is still required on Fish and Wildlife and DNR lands.
Free days apply only to day use, not to overnight stays or facilities.
Olympic National Park and State Parks will offer two more free days this year: Sept. 24, in recognition of National Public Lands Day and Nov. 11, in honor of Veterans Day.
Olympic National Park is offering other activities to mark the centennial — among them, artists painting park scenes in the open air.
On Tuesday, artists entered into the juried Paint the Peninsula show hosted by the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center will be at work at various locations throughout the park all day.
On Wednesday, Paint the Peninsula artist demonstrations are planned at park facilities. They are:
• Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center terrace at 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
• Storm King Ranger Station at 3 p.m.
• Lake Crescent Lodge at 3 p.m.
Plein Air paintings of the park by both adults and youth will be featured at a free public show from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd.
During the show, awards will be given to the artists whose park-inspired paintings were chosen as winners, and cake will be served to honor the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service.
On Friday, plein air artists will move to Port Angeles to paint at City Pier and the Esplanade and on Saturday, paintings will be judged at the fine arts center, which will be open to the public until 4 p.m.
The more than 80 paintings by artists from 1 to 18 years old entered into the Junior Plein Air Watercolor Contest will be on display at the Storm King Ranger Station Wednesdays through Saturdays through Sept. 4.
On Thursday, more artist demonstrations are planned in the Lake Crescent area.
Visitors will be able to watch and talk with plein air artists as they demonstrate their skills at Storm King Ranger Station and Lake Crescent Lodge at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
A drop-in birthday party is set from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Storm King Ranger Station.
Visitors can help create a giant birthday banner with fabric markers, walk the Marymere Falls trail and stop at a free-style art station and see filmmaker Eliza Goode’s “The Smell of Cedars Steeped in Rain,” a 12-minute film on Olympic National Park.
Between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., Clark Driese, a Port Angeles-based guitarist, singer and songwriter, will perform acoustic music on the Storm King Ranger Station porch.
At 7 p.m., storytelling will be featured at the NatureBridge campus on Lake Crescent.
Professional storytellers Ingrid Nixon and Rebecca Horn will tell tales.
The second half of the program will offer an opportunity for people to share their own stories about a national park experience.
Birthday cake and refreshments will be served at intermission.
At 8 p.m., a one-hour program telling of the past 100 years of the park service will begin at the Kalaloch Campground amphitheater.
The program will conclude with a birthday cake and celebration.
On Saturday, there will be Centennial Olympics between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the Kalaloch Ranger Station.
Through Sunday, visitors can pick up Centennial Birthday cards at the Kalaloch Ranger Station to send to the National Park Service.
The cards and a special ranger cabin mailbox for posting birthday wishes will be available there from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.