Metal detecting

Metal detecting is permitted at more than 30 state parks throughout Washington. Users of metal detectors must register first with Washington State Parks and comply with posted regulations. The registration form, rules, and a list of parks that allow detecting may be found online in the Metal Detecting in Washington State Parks brochure, or by calling park staff at (360) 902-8500 or from the Washington Telecommunications Relay Service at (800) 833-6388.

Metal detecting areas vary in each park. Some parks allow detecting in developed public-use areas and unoccupied campsites, while other parks allow detecting in specific areas only. See below to view or print maps showing areas open to metal detecting. 

Metal detector’s code of ethics

  • I WILL always check federal, state, county and local laws before searching.
  • I WILL respect private property and do no metal detecting without the owner's permission. 
  • I WILL fill all holes and excavations. 
  • I WILL appreciate and protect our heritage of natural resources, wildlife and private property. 
  • I WILL use thoughtfulness, consideration and courtesy at all times. 
  • I WILL leave gates as found. 
  • I WILL remove and properly dispose of any trash that I find. 
  • I WILL NOT litter. 
  • I WILL NOT destroy property, buildings or what is left of ghost towns and deserted structures. 
  • I WILL NOT tamper with signs, structural facilities or equipment.

Metal detecting rules

  • Metal detecting is permitted only within specified portions of approved state parks (see below for approved park maps) – parks that permit metal detecting will have maps and registration information posted at the park; if no information is posted, the park does not permit this activity.
  • Any find that appears to have historical or archaeological significance may not be removed from where it was found.  Report all findings immediately to a park employee and do not further disturb the area.
  • Properly dispose of all found or recovered litter.
  • Group-detecting events require a special recreation event application.
  • Metal detecting in camping areas open to metal detecting is permitted only in unoccupied campsites.


Below are the state laws and agency policy that govern metal detecting in Washington state parks.

  • RCW 79A.05.305(3)(5) Declaration of policy – Lands for public park purposes – requires the agency to  “protect cultural and historical resources, locations, and artifacts and preserve and maintain habitat which will protect and promote endangered, threatened, and sensitive plants, and endangered, threatened, and sensitive animal species.”
  • RCW 79A.05.165(a) Penalties – removal or destruction of any natural items (trees, shrubs, timber, plants or natural object in any park) is a misdemeanor under Washington State Law.
  • WAC 352-32-235 Use of metal detectors in state parksallows the use and operation of metal detectors as well as the removal of small contemporary materials within selected state parks.
  • WSPRC Commission Natural Resources Management Policy 65-04-01 – requires that “where existing recreational developments or uses are believed to degrade natural resources of regional or statewide significance...the agency will... alleviate the impacts by limiting, removing, relocating, or mitigating the recreational activity.”

Metal detecting maps