Rules, Regulations & Policies


Park Rules

The following rules, regulations, and policies, apply to all properties under Whatcom County Parks management, unless otherwise specified. This includes parks, trails, open spaces, and nature reserves. Observation of park rules protects community resources, promotes safety, and enables all visitors to enjoy their visit.

All day-use park areas are open from sunrise to sunset. Click here to check local sunrise/sunset times.


  • Camping is prohibited except in designated campgrounds and sites
  • Motorized vehicles, including motorbikes, motorcycles, and e-bikes, are prohibited except on designated roads and parking areas
  • Operating a bicycle on a trail is prohibited except on trails designated for such use (WCC 10.28) 
  • Alcoholic beverages are prohibited in all public areas except by permit
  • Use of metal detectors is prohibited
  • Parking or leaving vehicles in violation of posted signage is prohibited
  • Fireworks are prohibited at all times
  • Commercial distribution of printed materials, posting printed materials, and solicitation is prohibited except by permit
  • Amplified sound is prohibited except by permit
  • Public nudity is prohibited in all parks (WCC 9.50)
  • Entering any Whatcom County Parks areas, buildings, sites, or structures not open to the public is prohibited
  • Cutting or removing of vegetation is prohibited

Fires may only be lit in designated fireplaces and fire rings. Wood and coal burning devices need to be operated in compliance with the Fire Marshal's guide for recreational fires. Gas operated devices must be Underwriters Laboratory rated. Visitors mush check with the product manufacturer to ensure their devise is UL rated.

Wood fires are prohibited in grills. Use only charcoal briquettes. The following are also prohibited:

  • Leaving a fire without completely extinguishing it
  • Allowing a fire to escape from control
  • Building, attending, maintaining or using a campfire during a burn ban. Current outdoor burning information.
  • Burning of garbage, plastic, styrene, construction materials, or other non-wood products

Discharge of firearms is prohibited on all park properties, including any device capable of injuring or killing any other person or animal, or damaging or destroying any public or private property (WCC 9.32.085).

Pets must be leashed at all times (WCC 6.04.060) except in designated and marked off-leash areas and trails. It your responsibility to: 

  • Keep animal under control and on a leash no longer than 8 feet, unless otherwise crated or caged. 
  • Have a clean-up device at all times and properly dispose of animal waste
  • Ensure animal does not bite, intimidate, or annoy other park visitors
  • Ensure animal does not bark or disturb the peace of the park

Pets are prohibited in the following parks and locations:

  • Stimpson Family Nature Reserve
  • Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve
  • Canyon Lake Community Forest
  • Ostrom Conservation Site
  • Birch Bay Conservancy Area
  • Tennant Lake Boardwalk
  • Designated Shellfish Beds
  • Designated Swim Beaches
  • All Park Buildings

Refuse and Litter
All garbage must be disposed of in waste receptacle or removed from the park if no waste receptacle is provided (WCC.28.060). It is illegal to dispose of any household waste or material, or abandon any item in a park.

Disturbing or Damaging Resources
Damaging or removing any property or natural feature is prohibited. This includes:

  • Disturbing, collecting, damaging, or removing any plant, animal, mineral or other natural, historical, or archaeological feature
  • Operating a motor vehicle in a manner which damages or unreasonably disturbs the land, wildlife or vegetation

*Collection of mushrooms, berries, fruits, and catkins for personal consumption is allowed except in Natural Resource Conservation Areas, including Stimpson Family Nature Reserve and Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve. 

*Sport fishing and shellfishing are allowed with a valid WA Department of Fish & Wildlife License.

Drone usage and their pilots are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Any drone usage on Park property must comply with all FAA regulations. We ask that drone pilots please be considerate of other park users and fly in lower use areas or lower use times.

Filming in Parks
A film permit is required for commercial filming, professional still photography, and educational film / photography. Commercial purpose is defined as an individual or organization filming and/or taking still photography on Whatcom County Parks property with the intent to sell or otherwise use the product for an economic gain, including advertisement or promotion.

  • Film Permit Application
  • Application fee is $100 if submitted more than 7 days in advance of filming date, or $200 if submitted less than 7 days in advance
  • Site locate fees are assessed based on film activity and its impact to the park and public
  • Must provide a certificate of insurance, naming Whatcom County as additional insured, for a minimum of $1,000,000 for the period of filming

Special Event Permits and Special Use Authorizations
Permits are required for any of the following situations:

  • Organized activities or events open to the public
  • Requires services or facilities not normally available for reservation
  • May disrupt or interfere with the public's regular use of the park or facility
  • Any activities where an admission fee is charged, products or services are sold, donations or funds are solicited
  • Commercial activities, including individuals, groups, or businesses, who:
    • Charge a monetary admission or class fee
    • Sell tickets, food or other items 
    • Solicit funds or donations
    • Offer other for-profit activities
    • Promote a commercial business.

For information on Special Event Permits and the application process please see our Special Events page.

*This is not a complete listing of all rules. Park specific rules and regulations are posted on individual park pages.*