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Group Camping in State Parks and Forests

Great outdoor memories are often made when you are recreating with others. If you have a large group that is enjoying the outdoors and would like to stay overnight as a group on state park and forest land, we can accommodate you.

Group Camping in State Forests

State forests offer both primitive and motorized camping for a group of 10 or more people. A letter of authorization must first be obtained from a state forest district office where your group would like to stay. A camping permit and letter of authorization are issued to the group.

Organized Tent Camping and Cabin Camps in State Parks

State parks have opportunities for organized groups to stay overnight. Eligible groups are defined as:

  • An organized group that has a formal organization to coordinate and carry out its activities -- appointed or elected leadership and periodic meetings are mandatory to meet the criteria for an organized group.
  • An organized youth group that has a majority of its members under age 18 and is affiliated with an on-going organization like school, youth, and church groups.
  • An organized adult group that has a majority of its members above 18 years of age and is affiliated with an organization such as the Rotary Club or the Lions Club.

See state park prices for organized group tent camping and cabin camp prices. Discounts for camping may be given if a conservation volunteer project is performed. Contact the park manager where you are staying for details.

Organized Group Tent Camping in State Parks

Forty state parks offer group camping opportunities at designated campsites. Amenities for the campsites vary depending on the state park. To see a map of group camping opportunities across the state and a description of the campsites, see state park’s group camping map.

Reserve a State Park Group Tent Campsite

Organized group tenting areas in Pennsylvania state parks can be reserved 11 months in advance to two days before arrival.

To reserve a group tent campsite, call 888-PA-PARKS (888-727-2757), Monday to Saturday, 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. except on the Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day holidays. Reservations can be made using:

  • MasterCard
  • VISA
  • American Express
  • Discover
  • Personal, traveler’s, and cashier’s checks
  • Pennsylvania State Parks Gift Card

To receive a confirmed reservation, full payment must be received by the Bureau within ten days of making the reservation.

Changes and Cancellations

Changes to a reservation must be made by calling 888-PA-PARKS (888-727-2757). There is a $10 fee assessed for all changes made to a reservation, except adding nights to the reservation. Please see state park’s reservation cancellation and change policy for additional information about cancelling or changing reservations and associated fees.

Organized Group Cabin Camps in State Parks

Five state parks offer overnight lodging for organized groups. The basic element of the organized group cabin camp is the unit, which generally consists of sleeping cabins or barrack-type sleeping facilities, toilets, and a unit lodge (activity building).

The sleeping cabins can sleep either two or four people, while barracks can sleep up to 26 people. Cabin camps also have a:

  • Central shower house
  • First aid building
  • Dining hall
  • Staff quarters
  • Camp office
  • Parking

All buildings are unheated, but a few have fireplaces.

The state park organized group camps were built during the mid-1930s as Federal Recreation Demonstration Areas by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration. Some of the camp buildings once served as living quarters for the conservation corps members who worked developing the parks.

To see a map of group cabin opportunities across the state and a description of the cabin units, see state park’s group cabins camp map.

Organized group cabin camps may only be used by organized youth and adult groups that have current non-profit status under current federal regulations.

Reserving a State Park Group Cabin Camp

Advance reservations are required. An Application for Organized Group Cabin Camp Permit must be submitted to the respective state park office.

Blue Knob and Raccoon Creek accept reservations for the following year starting September 15 and will award reservations after November 1.

Hickory Run, French Creek, and Laurel Hill accept reservations after January 1 and will award reservations after March 1.

At other times of the year, contact the state park office where the camp is located to determine group camp availability.

When submitting an application, it must be accompanied with a deposit equal to one night’s stay. The deposit is not refundable once the reservation is confirmed.

Prior to submitting your group’s application, a site visit is recommended to ensure that the site will meet your group’s needs.

Groups must provide proof of non-profit status when submitting an Application for Organized Group Cabin Camp Permit to the respective state park office. Youth groups must have at least one responsible adult on site for every eight campers under age 18.

Organizations also must submit a roster of their campers. The Roster Form is available at the park office and must be completed prior to being issued a camping permit. The roster must list the names of all campers in the party.

Who Receives Priority when Two or More Groups Want to Reserve a Camp for the Same Time Period?

The park manager will evaluate group camp requests and is responsible for the final resolution of these matters using the listed guidelines:

  • Youth groups receive first consideration
  • Short-term users -- those using the camp for one week or less -- are scheduled in the absence of a long-term user
  • Historical long-term users -- those using the camp for two weeks or longer -- are given a higher priority than new long-term users
  • New long-term users are evaluated according to the length of stay, anticipated annual usage, and the ability of the group to share in the maintenance and operation of the camp