Rules & Policies

Park Rules, Regulations & Policies

Conduct in all Pierce County public parks and facilities is subject to all the general police regulations of Pierce County, as well as Pierce County Parks Code 14.08.

Park Hours

  • In parks and on trails that are controlled by gates or other devices, normal park hours are as posted. Except in the case of prearranged, special group activities or regularly established concessions authorized by the Director or designee, no person shall remain in the park system after posted hours. In other areas, no person shall be present nor shall vehicles be allowed to remain parked one-half hour after legal sunset without a permit.
  • PCC 14.08.120

Boat Launching

  • Boat launching can occur in designated areas only. No person shall launch a boat in Pierce County park facilities, except in an area specifically designated and/or marked for that purpose.
  • Boat launch/parking passes are available for the general public to purchase on a seasonal basis and issued to those entering the park with a vehicle and boat trailer. The boat trailer license and the vehicle towing the trailer will be listed on the pass. Therefore the vehicle listed on the pass can enter the park without the trailer, and the trailer can enter the park being towed by another vehicle. The Boat Launch Pass cannot be split between two separate vehicles entering the park. Passes are valid for one boat launch per day. Passes can be used for recreational purposes only, not for personal financial gain. Commercial use is strictly prohibited and will result in the forfeiture of the pass without a refund.

Motor Vehicle Parking

  • No operator of any vehicle shall enter the park system unless required parking fees have been paid and the operator is using the area for an authorized designated recreational purpose.
  • It is unlawful to park any vehicle in any area not designated for parking, or in violation of signs or pavement markings, or where prohibited by signs or pavement markings, except with the permission of the Director or designee.
  • No person shall park, leave standing or abandon a vehicle after closing time except when camping in a designated area or with permission from the Director or designee.
  • Any vehicle found parked in violation of this Section may be cited and/or towed away at the owner's or operator's expense.
  • PCC 14.08.090


  • Any animal in the park system is subject to Title 6 PCC, Animals. Animals must always be under the physical control of the owner, except in a designated off-leash area. The following additional requirements apply:
    • Dogs, pets, or domestic animals shall be kept on a leash no longer than 8 feet or confined and under control at all times, except within a designated off-leash area, where subsection B of this Section shall apply.
    • It is unlawful for a person accompanied by an animal in the park system to fail to provide for the removal of their animal's fecal matter. Horse and livestock waste shall be removed from all areas, including parking lots, open spaces, trails, and other areas approved for horse use, except in areas with a park steward or stewardship group responsible for horse waste removal. Special signage will be posted in such areas providing for this variance.
    • Animals are restricted from any designated swimming beach, golf course, athletic fields at Sprinker Recreation Center or Heritage Recreation Center, public buildings, and other areas deemed inappropriate for animals. Users shall follow posted signs.
    • No horses shall be permitted in any park except where designated and posted to specifically permit such activity. Horses shall not be permitted on any designated swimming area, campground, athletic field, picnic area, and other areas deemed inappropriate. Users shall follow posted signs. This regulation may be waived by the Director or designee for special events conducted by organized groups.
    • No person shall ride any horse or other animal in such a manner that might endanger the life or limb of any person or animal, and no person shall allow a horse or other animal to stand unattended or insecurely tied.
  • PCC 14.08.070

Activities Requiring Permits

It shall be unlawful in any park, without first securing a permit from the Director or designee, for any person to:

  • Use a public address system or other sound amplifying device;
  • Use, place or erect any signboard, sign, billboard, bulletin board, post, pole, or device of any kind for advertising in any park or to attach any notice, bill, poster, sign, wire, rod or card to any tree, shrub, railing, post or structure, or erect a structure of any kind;
  • Sell refreshments or merchandise or engage in any business or occupation;
  • Use any park facility for the purpose of having any watercraft for hire;
  • Launch waterborne craft from any shoreline except from specifically designated areas or with a specific permit. The launching of waterborne craft as provided in this Section shall be unlawful if the required fee as determined by Ordinance has not been paid;
  • Take up collections or to act as or apply the vocation of a solicitor, agent, peddler, beggar, strolling musician, organ grinder, exhorter, barker, or showman within a park;
  • Hold any organized runs, walks, races, trials, or competitions;
  • Hold any shows, festivals, fundraisers, carnivals, parades, or similar activities;
  • Host-organized activities that utilize a substantial area in the park for group activities or which restrict public use of the area;
  • Host commercial activities that charge for services, such as lessons, or clinics hosted by the vendor;
  • Sailboard, other than in designated areas;
  • Operate drones, aircraft, model aircraft, model rockets, or hot air balloons;
  • Parachute, hang glide,  or parasail;
  • Moor watercraft, other than in designated areas;
  • Engage in paintballing or survival games;
  • Participate in archery, other than in designated areas; or
  • Engage in disaster drills; or
  • Operate any vehicle other than in designated areas; or
  • Metal detect, excavate, remove, or deface any historical, archaeological, or cultural resource. Such activities shall be subject to all state and federal regulations.
  • PCC 14.08.040

If the Director or designee finds that the safety, comfort, and convenience of the public in the use of the parks, or in the use of the area adjacent to the park, would be unduly disturbed, the Director or designee may deny the application, impose restrictions upon the permit or issue a permit for a different date, time, park, or park area to alleviate such disturbance. The Director or designee may issue a permit for use of the park during hours when the park is closed. 

Outdoor Rental Areas

  • The Department will make available a list of outdoor group reservation areas. Use of picnic shelters and other outdoor reservable areas may be available by reservation. If the reservation of such areas is not required or a reservation is not held for that time, use of such areas is on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Camping is not allowed in the park system unless as part of a permitted event wherein camping is a permitted use and user fees are paid. Camping shall be permitted only in areas specifically designated and/or marked for that purpose and as specified in the event permit. Camping occupancy shall only be permitted for the duration of the event, the amount of time specified in the permit, or no more than seven days, whichever is less. The number of vehicles occupying camping facilities shall be limited to one car or one camper or one vehicle with a trailer per camp or trailer site unless otherwise stated in the event permit. Fees for the use of camp or trailer sites are due on the same day as the event fees.
  • Outdoor cooking utilizing charcoal or wood pellets may only take place in parks equipped with hot coal disposal containers. Outdoor cooking utilizing compressed gas such as propane or liquid gas equipped with an on/off switch is allowed.
  • PCC 14.08.080


  • No aircraft shall land or take off from any body of water or land area in the park system not specifically designated for landing aircraft. All landings must be by permit and authorized by the Director.
  • Model aircraft, drones, and rockets: It is unlawful to operate motorized model aircraft, drones, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) except as specifically designated for that use or as otherwise authorized by the Director. All engines over .25 CI used in model aircraft shall be muffled. All persons flying model aircraft shall abide by the official American Model Academy (AMA) safety code.
  • No person shall fly or land hot air balloons in the park system unless authorized to do so by the Director or designee.
  • PCC 14.08.100

Smoking, Vaping, Alcohol, and Cannabis

  • It is unlawful for any person to smoke or vape in the park system. For the purposes of this Section, "smoke" or "smoking" means the carrying, holding, or smoking of any kind of lighted pipe, cigar, cigarette, or any other object that is used for smoking.
  • It is unlawful for any person to display, possess or consume alcoholic beverages in the park system, except that such beverages may be opened, served, and consumed at designated locations within the park system by persons who have obtained all required permits including, but not limited to, the Washington State Liquor Control Board Banquet permit;
  • It is unlawful for any person to open a package containing cannabis, useable cannabis, cannabis-infused products, or cannabis concentrates, or consume cannabis, useable cannabis, cannabis-infused products, or cannabis concentrates, in the park system. "Cannabis" means cannabis as defined by RCW 69.50.101 as now or hereafter amended.
  • PCC 14.08.060

Other Park Rules & Regulations 

  • Loitering in vehicles is prohibited.
  • For safety, swim only in designated areas. There are no lifeguards at our county parks.
  • Please use trash receptacles.
  • Discharge of firearms is prohibited.
  • No fireworks or open fires.
  • Loud music is prohibited.
  • Drive carefully and cautiously and enjoy your visit.
  • PCC 14.08.060

Violations of any of the Park Code Chapter 36.68 RCW are unlawful and shall constitute a Class 3 Civil Infraction pursuant to Chapter 1.16 PCC. In addition, every person failing to comply with any provision of the Pierce County Code or the Revised Code of Washington while in the park system shall be subject to immediate ejection from the park system. The Director or designee and the Pierce County Sheriff's Department are authorized and directed to enforce the provisions of this Chapter. (PCC 14.08.130)

Metal Detecting (Park Policy #2002) 

  • Use of metal detectors is permitted only within specified portions of approved parks or locations where the environment can be accessed without damage and returned to its original state.
  • Use of metal detectors within a park shall be limited to daylight hours when the park is open.
  • While using a metal detector, the user shall not destroy or disturb park facilities, natural features, or historical or archaeological resources. No item which is, or appears to be of historical or archaeological significance, may be removed from the site at which it was found. Any such find shall be immediately reported to park personnel, and the area in which the find occurred shall be closed to further metal detecting. 
  • Metal detecting is not allowed in maintained turf areas, ornamental planting areas, wetlands or their buffers. 
  • Digging implements shall be limited to ice picks, screwdrivers, and probes not to exceed two inches in width and sand scoop not to exceed six inches in width and eight inches in length, containing perforations no less than one-half inch in width. Any excavations shall be limited to six inches maximum depth and shall be immediately refilled and the surface restored to its earlier condition. No excavations are allowed in maintained turf areas. All trash and litter shall be properly disposed of in a trash container. 
  • Any person using a metal detector shall contact ([email protected]) park personnel at the site prior to using the equipment and observe all federal, state, and local laws and regulations while engaged in metal detecting operations.

Film and Photography Shoots (Park Policy #603)

Film and photography shoots in Pierce County Parks require the approval of a Special Use Permit to be submitted at the Parks and Recreation Administration Office located at 6320 Grandview Dr. W, University Place, WA 98467  at least 30 days in advance of the event date.

The completed Special Use Permit may be submitted online or emailed to [email protected]. Requests will be processed within five business days. It is recommended that large events requiring multiple dates and locations submit a completed application at least 90 days in advance. 

Approval is required in advance for the following: 

  • Having a vehicle(s) park within a park’s perimeter. 
  • Filming where it could compromise the privacy of park patrons (ex: comfort stations and locker rooms). 
  • Set up lawn areas that may have the potential to damage the lawn. 
  • Set up that blocks access to an area of the site or requires extensive set-up. 
  • To tie, drape, or attach rope, props, or equipment to trees, shrubs, fences, benches or attach anything to any architectural features, statues, sculptures, or fountains. 

Swimming Safety Tips

Watercraft Regulations

  • Pierce County Watercraft Regulations for lakes and rivers are under the jurisdiction of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department (Pierce County Code Chapter 8.88). For more information, contact the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department at (253) 798-7540.