As Pennsylvania slowly begins to reopen certain areas of the state, you might be wondering what that means for Pennsylvania state parks and forests.
Just like the phased reopening of the counties in the state, DCNR is implementing a phased reopening of state park and forest facilities to ensure that Pennsylvanians have opportunities to safely enjoy outdoor recreation.
DCNR recognizes the importance parks and forests have in maintaining an individual’s physical and mental health; and, as the weather turns warmer, even greater numbers of people will be looking for opportunities to be outdoors.
The reopening of state park and forest facilities involves bringing staff back on to work in parks and forests, making sure staff have the proper personal protective equipment, making sure we have the cleaning supplies to keep our facilities safe, and the normal procedures for getting facilities that have been closed over the winter set up to be used by the public.
DCNR is following Governor Wolf’s plan and process for reopening Pennsylvania. The plan uses the colors of red, yellow, and green to outline the restrictions in place for that county. The red phase has the most restrictions, which are let up as counties move to yellow and green.
What Facilities Are Opening?
Regardless of any county color designation, all state parks and forests will now have at least one restroom in day use areas and in marinas statewide open to the public. Additional cleaning protocols are in place to help protect park and forest visitors.
In addition, the public can still access DCNR trails, lakes, rivers, streams, forests, roads, and parking areas statewide for recreation.
All nine marinas in state parks were authorized to open on May 8 or their typical opening date. This is in addition to the opening of shoreline mooring sites at all state parks.
Boat concessions (which are privately operated) in red counties will remain closed. Boat concessions in yellow counties are permitted to be open, but in many cases are not.
Call the state park directly for more information about marinas and boat concessions.
The three public golf courses in Caledonia and Evansburg state parks and Michaux State Forest are authorized to be open to the public. These golf courses are also operated by private concessions.
In counties that are designated yellow, park offices and camping will begin to open. Depending on when a county is designated as yellow determines when these facilities will open.
The 24 counties first announced as yellow will open park and forest district offices and tent and RV camping on Friday, May 15. Facilities such as cabins, cottages, lodges, and yurts will open June 12.
The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle State Park will also open May 15.
The 13 additional counties announced as yellow will open park and forest offices on May 22. Tent and RV camping also will be open May 22.
Facilities such as cabins, cottages, lodges, and yurts in this second round of announced yellow counties will open June 12.
Campsites and cabins should only be used by members living in the same household as part of COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
What Facilities are Still Closed?
Facilities such as offices and camping sites will continue to be closed in counties that are designated as red.
Swimming beaches and pools will be closed statewide until at least June 6.
All picnic pavilions, playgrounds, nature play areas, visitor center exhibit halls, amphitheaters, and group camping facilities statewide will remain closed indefinitely.
All programs, events, and large gatherings at state parks and forests in counties that are designated red are cancelled through June 15.
Based on availability, organizers will have the option to reschedule later in the year. No new reservations for these activities are being taken.
In counties designated yellow, any events with more than 25 people will be cancelled. If the event is under 25 people and outdoors it will be allowed to occur, however any indoor events will be cancelled.
In the Know Before You Go
Knowing what’s open and what’s closed within state parks can be a challenge, especially as counties are moved from one color to another.
To learn what facilities are open or closed within state parks and forests, check the DCNR interactive online facility map.
By clicking on a county, users can see what state parks or forests are within that county and what facilities under each park and forest are open or closed -- or when they are expected to open.
Even though the number of new COVID-19 cases is slowing, state park and forest visitors are encouraged to take precautions to protect themselves and others.
People who live in areas still under stay-at-home orders should not travel long distances for outdoor recreation, and instead should look for opportunities close to home.
Pennsylvania has 6,000 local parks and more than 12,000 miles of trails available (check first to make sure they are open, as some local parks are closed).
Visitors can help keep state parks and forest lands safe by following these practices:
- Avoid crowded parking lots and trailheads
- Bring a bag and either carry out your trash or dispose of it properly
- Clean up after pets
- Avoid activities that put you at greater risk of injury, so you don’t require a trip to the emergency room
To help avoid exposure to COVID-19 and protect others, and still enjoy the outdoors:
- Don’t hike or recreate in groups -- go with those under the same roof, and adhere to social distancing (stay 6 feet apart)
- Wear a mask
- Take hand sanitizer with you and use it regularly
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, and nose
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or flexed elbow
- If you are sick, stay home
We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work to provide services that keep our staff and visitors safe.
For more COVID-19 updates from DCNR, please visit the alerts section of the DCNR website. Be considerate and stay safe. We’re all in this together!