Welcome the New Year with healthy, active outdoor fun. Polar Bear Dips are for those willing to brave icy Northwest winter water, including Lake Washington and Puget Sound. If you prefer to stay dry, then check out our list below of the many First Day Hikes at Washington State Parks around the region.
Polar Bear Dip Safety Tips
- Heart health. Anyone with heart problems, consult your health care provider, or just plan to watch the fun.
- Bring change of clothes and towel.
- Do Not Drink Alcohol: alcohol does not warm you up, it accelerates hypothermia.
- Do not stay in the water longer than 15 minutes; body heat is lost 25 times faster in the water than in air.
- Do not remove your clothing until swim time and remove wet clothing before getting back into dry clothes.
- Events are free, however some are fundraisers for charitable causes. Check their website for details.
2020 Polar Bear Dips in the Puget Sound region (and beyond)
Play like a polar bear. Wash off the old and start the New Year with a quick dip into the icy waters of Lake Washington or Puget Sound. All events take place January 1, unless otherwise noted. Most are free, except where noted.
(Listed roughly north to south throughout the region)
- Orcas Island. 11 a.m. Orcas Island Rowing Team hosts the annual Polar Bear Plunge. This is a low-key “FUN-raising” event to help defray the costs for the team. It will be held at the picnic shelter at Cascade Lake. Snacks and warm drinks will be on hand. More info: http://orcasislandrowing.org/
- Edmonds. 1 p.m. Brackett’s Landing, just north of the Edmonds ferry terminal, 50 Railroad Ave., Edmonds, WA 98020. All are welcome. Edmonds Uplift Society raises money to support the Edmonds South County Historical Society and Museum. More info: https://myedmondsnews.com/2018/12/prepare-to-plunge-annual-new-years-day-dip-set-for-bracketts-landing/
- Seattle Matthews Beach. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and the plunge starts at noon sharp. Younger polar bears and anyone else who needs a little more room can take part in the Polar Cub Club part of the event immediately preceding the main plunge. Matthews Beach Park, Entrance is at the corner of NE 93rd St and Sand Point Way NE in Seattle, WA. More info: http://www.seattle.gov/Parks/aquatics/PolarBearPlunge.htm.
- Seattle Golden Gardens. 10am-11am. Run/Walk will be along the water front approximately 5k. Followed by the optional plunge. More info: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/polar-bear-plunge-run-tickets-72466626631
- Renton. 11 A.M. Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park, 1201 Lake Washington Blvd. N. No registration required. For more info: https://www.rentonwa.gov/city_hall/community_services/recreation_and_neighborhoods/events/polar_bear_plunge
- SeaTac. Help neighbors in need by generously donating packaged food and cash while event attendees benefit by being eligible to win fabulous prizes! Simply bring a donation, enjoy a brunch buffet with coffee donated by Starbucks, and cheer other or take the plunge yourself! For a heightened experience wear a costume and bring the kids. More info: https://www.seattlesouthside.com/event/angle-lake-polar-bear-plunge/683/.
- Tacoma. Two plunges, kids and adult. 11:30 am: Cub Plunge, for youth under 10 years of age. 12:00 pm: Adult/Family Plunge. Point Defiance boat launch, 5912 N. Waterfront Drive in Point Defiance Park. FREE Shuttle Service from Owen Beach 10 am-2 pm. Warm up afterward in heating tents, sip free hot drinks, and purchase treats from the snack bar. Changing tents will be available. $5/person. More info: https://www.metroparkstacoma.org/event/polarbearplunge/
- Lacey. 12:00 p.m. Plunge at 1:00 p.m. Long Lake Park, 2790 Carpenter Road SE. More info: http://www.ci.lacey.wa.us/living-in-lacey/the-community/arts-and-events/polar_bear_plunge
- Tri-Cities Polar Plunge. Saturday, January 25, 2020 from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm at Columbia Point Marina Park in Richland. Freezin’ for a REASON–supports Special Olympics. Each participant must raise a minimum of $50 in pledges by Plunge day. More info: http://specialolympicswashington.org/event/2020-tri-cities-polar-plunge/
About First Day Hikes
First Day Hikes happen all across the nation on January 1st. It’s a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks to encourage people to get outdoors.
On New Year’s Day, hundreds of free, guided hikes will be organized in all 50 states. Last year nearly 55,000 people rang in the New Year, collectively hiking over 133,000 miles throughout the country on the guided hikes. Numerous others hiked state park trails throughout the day.
The guided First Day Hikes are led by knowledgeable state park staff and volunteers. The distance and rigor vary from park to park, but all hikes aim to create a fun experience for the whole family. People are invited to savor the beauty of the state park’s natural resources with the comfort of an experienced guide so they may be inspired to take advantage of these local treasures throughout the year.
First Day Hikes in Washington State
Close to Seattle, there are hikes on Camano Island, Whidbey Island, Wallace Falls (near Goldbar on SR-2), Saltwater Park in Des Moines, and Nolte State Park in Enumclaw. But there are many more, some that would make a great weekend getaway. Some parks are offering multiple hikes, bike rides, or snow adventures. So whatever your abilities and interests, you can find something fun to do to celebrate the New Year outdoor. Find a first day hike near you:
- Washington State Parks First Day Hikes 2019 (usually updated the 3rd weekend in December for the upcoming year).
New Year’s Day is also a Washington State Parks ’Free Entrance Day’, when you won’t need a Discover Pass to visit a state park. A Discover Pass is usually required for vehicle access to state parks.