Sign Manual Update

Project summary

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission (State Parks) is updating the agency’s Sign Manual. Originally developed in 1972, the Sign Manual established a unified signage system for use across Washington’s parks. The manual was revised in 1979 and amended in 1994 to address trail signage but has not substantially changed since then.

Since the last amendment, Washington’s population has grown by over 3 million and is becoming younger and more diverse every day. Our signage must meet the needs of all the people we serve. As part of the Sign Manual update, we have engaged the public to identify the challenges and opportunities facing a new generation of park visitors.


The Updated Sign Manual should:

  • Establish a consistent and cohesive signage system that can be easily understood by diverse populations.
  • Clearly convey essential trail information such as accessibility, level of difficulty, and wayfinding.
  • Improve safety and enhance the overall visitor experience for all park users, especially those with little experience in the outdoors.
  • Provide an efficient tool for park staff by combining the current sign manual and design guidelines into a single document with a consistent suite of signage.

Public engagement

As part of the update process, State Parks convened a project team consisting of representatives across the agency and an Advisory Committee, with representatives from a variety of lived experiences and levels of usership and experience to guide the process.  The process also included multiple activities to help us understand how signage can improve people’s experience at state parks. These public engagement activities include:

  • Park "Travel Diaries"
  • Online Surveys

Sign manual online survey

Signs are the first source of information at any State Park and are essential to making people feel welcome and safe and getting them to the activities they want to enjoy. State Parks has been working to improve the signs you see across Washington and now we need your help. Take this short, interactive survey to tell us about your experience and then share it with anyone you know, especially if they have felt unsure about visiting State Parks.

Our Dec. 2022 survey is complete. Another survey is planned for the summer of 2023.