Effective Thursday, November 3, 2022: All designated state forest campsites will be reserved through the
Pennsylvania State Parks and Forests Reservations website.
To learn about the reservation system and why this change was made, please see the
DCNR Bureau of Forestry Camping Reservation System Frequently Asked Questions (PDF).
Camping in Buchanan State Forest
Buchanan State Forest is the perfect location to enjoy a night outdoors. Campers will find natural beauty, dark night skies, and opportunities for other recreation during their stay. There are countless trails, streams, and other natural features to explore!
To ensure the long-term sustainability of these valuable natural resources and recreation experiences, be sure to practice Leave No Trace Principles.
Motorized, Roadside Camping at Designated Sites
Motorized camping or roadside camping is defined as overnight camping in or near a vehicle where the vehicle is used for storage or transportation. This type of camping may only be done at designated campsites and always requires a permit.
There are no developed facilities, modern conveniences, or other improvements at state forest campsites.
There are two types of motorized, roadside camping opportunities in Buchanan State Forest:
Roadside campsites are singular, remote sites located along dirt and gravel state forest roads. They may be pull offs or have a short driveway. These sites allow for overnight camping in or very near a vehicle. Depending on layout, the sites may accommodate different types of equipment such as tents, small RVs, or trailers.
Roadside hike-in campsites are singular, remote, and tent-only sites with designated parking along a dirt and gravel state forest road and a defined trail or gated road that is followed to the campsite. These campsites offer more solitude than most roadside campsites, but still allow easy access to a vehicle for storage and transportation. Hike-in distances vary, so be sure to check campsite attributes in the reservation system.
Check campsite details to determine the suitability for your equipment and desired experience.
There are no electric hookups, dump stations, or trash disposal facilities on state forest land.
Permits and Reservations for Motorized, Roadside Campsites
Camping permits and reservations are required to stay at motorized, roadside campsites.
Reservations can be made online at the
Pennsylvania State Parks and Forests Reservation website at any time, or by calling 888-PA-PARKS (888-727-2757), Monday through Saturday, 7:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. except on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.
Motorized, roadside campsites may be reserved up to eleven months in advance.
Use the Interactive
Pennsylvania State Forest Camping Sites GIS Map to view locations and visit the
Pennsylvania State Parks and Forests Reservation website to see pictures and additional detailed information on each campsite.
Stays are limited to seven nights at a motorized, roadside campsite.
Check in and check out time is 3:00 P.M. Campers must vacate for at least 48 hours before returning. Please be considerate of other visitors’ opportunities to use this valued resource.
Please review your permit for additional rules and conditions.
Primitive Backpack Camping
Backpack campers are permitted to camp in most areas of the forest without a permit if staying no more than one night in any location.
Backpackers may camp overnight anywhere except:
- In 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
Backpack camping is typically done at trailside campsites and does not allow for access to motorized vehicles during overnight stays.
Primitive, trailside camping is part of an overall backcountry travel experience.
It involves hiking from campsite to campsite, far from your vehicle and nearby buildings, roads, and trailheads where you will find no modern conveniences or campsite improvements.
Remember, if you are camping close enough to your vehicle to access it to store gear and supplies, you are not primitive camping -- you are roadside, or motorized, camping.
A permit and reservation is always required for motorized, roadside camping, and it is only permitted at designated sites. Please plan appropriately.
Primitive Backpack Camping Permits
A free primitive camping permit is required if a backpacker desires an emergency point-of-contact or if a campfire is requested during the annual spring wildfire season (March, April, and May).
Camping permits are also required for primitive camping at the same site for more than one night.
To request a primitive backpacking permit in Buchanan State Forest, please contact the district office at 717-485-3148.
Backpacking or motorized camping groups of more than 10 people must obtain a Letter of Authorization from the state forest.
Complete the Buchanan State Forest Activity Agreement or Authorization Application (PDF) and submit it to the Buchanan State Forest office to start the process to obtain this authorization.
These are processed through the Buchanan State Forest district office and may take up to two to three weeks to obtain. Please plan accordingly.
Campfires are not permitted when the fire danger is high, very high, or extreme; and from March 1 through May 25, unless authorized by Buchanan State Forest.
Additionally, if the camping date is several days away or more, campfire permission may not be determined until closer to the dates of the camping trip.
Buchanan State Forest district office at 717-485-3148 for more information. Buchanan State Forest office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M., closed state holidays.
Enjoy your stay in Buchanan State Forest!