PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — Sometimes you just need a break from the busyness of work and modern-day life in general. So pack up your tent and grab your outdoor essentials because it’s time to go camping!

But before you hit the road there are a few things you should know about camping in the Keystone State: Where you are allowed to camp and how to reserve your spot.

According to the Department of Natural Resources (DCNR), the state of Pennsylvania has 2.2 million acres of State Forestland across 50 of our 67 counties. This is coupled with Pennsylvania’s managed State Parks that boast more than 300,000 acres of land that support a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities, like hiking, camping, fishing, boating, and more!

Which place is right for me?

If you looking for a more primitive and isolated style of camping (no electric, running water, or bathrooms), then a trip to one of our 20 State Forests is probably the best option for you. However, if you are someone who is looking to get away from it all without being forced to squat in the woods, then a reservation at one of the 124 State Parks is definitely the preferred option.

Primitive or backpack camping is permitted in most areas within our State Forests. Permits/ reservations are not required for camping at these State Forests, so long as you are only staying the night. According to DCNR, the only exceptions to this are State Forest areas:

  • within designated Natural Areas
  • within 200 feet of a forest road
  • within 25 feet of a trail
  • within 100 feet of a stream or any open water

It is important to note, that the DCNR says that if you are close enough to your vehicle to access it for gear and supplies, then that is not considered primitive or backpack camping. In this case, a permit will need to be acquired from the state forest district office for wherever you plan to camp.

Camping is also permitted at our State Parks, but primitive backpacking and hiking-in camping is not allowed. Any camping at our State Parks must be done at the designated camping sites. The only exceptions to this fact are these five State Parks that do allow backpacking and overnight hikes: Laurel Ridge, Ohiopyle, Moraine, Oil Creek, and Raccoon Creek.

Time to make the reservation!

Interested campers looking to make a reservation at a State Park or Forest can click here to browse the different sites, make an account, and then schedule your reservation.

So now that you are making your reservation, you’re going to notice that there are many different types of camp sites to chose from. The different available camping and RV sites at our State Parks include:

  • Full-hookup — Offers nearby restrooms with flushable toilets and showers. Additionally, these sites have sewer, water, and electric hookups. It also comes with a picnic table and a fire ring.
  • Modern — These sites have nearby restrooms with flushable toilets, showers, a picnic table, and a fire ring.
  • Rustic — These have nearby restrooms with non-flush toilets, as well as a picnic table and fire ring.
  • Modern/rustic — These sites have nearby restrooms with modern facilities in the warmer months. In the colder months, these sites have non-flushable facilities. This site also offers a picnic table and fire ring.
  • Multi-site — These sites allow up to 14 people and are available at Keystone and Ohiopyle State Parks.
  • Walk-to — These sites require a short walk to the campsite. The site offers a picnic table and a fire ring.
  • River Camping — This type of site is only available at Clear Creek State Park
  • Equestrian — These sites provide space for horses in addition to people.

In addition to these types of campsites, our State Parks also offer the opportunity for people to reserve cottages, yurts, State park inns, trail shelters, and a lot more!

If you are interested in getting more information about our Pennsylvania State Forests and Parks, you can visit the DCNR’s website.