HARRISBURG — Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn and State Forester Ellen Shultzabarger announced that state forest campsites will move to a more user-friendly, modern registration system effective today (Nov. 3).
“We are looking to improve the state forest camping experience by moving to a more modern self-registration process like what we use for state park camping reservations,” Dunn said. “This will allow for a more convenient experience that provides real-time availability information to prospective campers looking to plan an outdoor excursion in our beautiful natural spaces.”
Camping reservations in state forests were previously made by visiting a state forest district office and requesting a permit from district forest staff.
The number of camping permits issued has doubled in the past five years, creating a need for electronic records and reporting to help district forest staff effectively manage campsite conditions, perform necessary maintenance, and provide site alerts about site-specific conditions that may arise, including road closures, flooding, and other emergencies.
All designated roadside campsites, camping areas, and equestrian camping areas will be available through the reservation system.
Non-designated motorized camping will no longer be permitted.
Those looking to make reservations will be able to view campsite information, location, and photos online and reserve a campsite.
Designated campsites will be made available through the: Pennsylvania State Park and State Forest Reservation System; ReserveAmerica Call Center, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday (888-PA-PARKS (888-727-2757); ReserveAmerica Camping App; and the forest district office in which you wish to camp.
Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance up to noon on the day of arrival, depending on the availability of the campsite.
“Pennsylvania’s vast state forest system provides unique camping opportunities in more remote and wild locations than state parks and the campsites are often distanced from other sites,” Shultzabarger said. “As such, it is critical we better understand usage and conditions at these locations to improve the experience for campers. We are hopeful that the new reservation system simplifies the process for those looking to spend time in our expansive state forests.”
There will be nightly fees of $10 for Pennsylvania residents and $15 for non-residents, with a $6.50 transaction fee to cover the costs of operating the systems.
The new system will allow the use of credit cards for camping and other permits, such as fuelwood and ATVs.
There will continue to be no fee for trailside, backpack camping, and water trail camping.
Revenue generated from the fees will be directed toward the maintenance, improvement, and conservation of sites and associated recreation opportunities.
Fees may be waived for volunteers during work projects.