On May 19, 2020, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced a phased reopening of more state park and forest facilities in keeping with Governor Wolf’s direction to ensure Pennsylvanians have opportunities to safely enjoy outdoor recreation and help maintain positive physical and mental health.

“With appropriate protocols in place to ensure safety and as staffing permits, this department continues working to reopen our state parks and forests so that Pennsylvanians can realize all benefits associated with being outdoors,” Dunn said. “Some of our parks saw record attendance in April, and with warming weather, DCNR anticipates even more people seeking outdoors opportunities to connect with nature and exercise.”

In the  latest counties announced as yellow May 15, as well as earlier additional counties announced as yellow, park and forest offices will open May 22. Tent and RV camping also will open May 22. Facilities such as cabins, cottages, lodges, and yurts in most recent rounds of announced yellow counties will open June 12.

In counties first announced as yellow, park and forest district offices and tent and RV camping reopened May 15. Facilities such as cabins, cottages, lodges, and yurts will open June 12.

The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle State Park, Centre County, also reopened May 15.

DCNR is following Governor Wolf’s plan and process for reopening Pennsylvania using red, yellow and green colors to outline restrictions in place for that county. The red phase has the most  restrictions, which are eased as counties move to yellow and green. DCNR is following this approach to begin opening facilities in counties that are designated as yellow.

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 are open, or will be on their typical opening date. Shoreline mooring sites at all state parks also are open. In addition, 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 operated by private concessions.

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. State parks should be called directly for more information about marinas and boat concessions.

Except for one restroom in each day-use area, all state park and forest facilities in the red phase will remain closed until changes are made consistent with Governor Wolf’s guidelines for reopening.

All picnic pavilions, playgrounds, nature play areas, interpretive centers, amphitheaters, and group camping facilities statewide will remain closed indefinitely. Beach and pool facilities will be closed through at least June 5.

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.

Picnic tables in state parks will be dispersed to allow room to spread out and avoid crowds. Campsites and cabins should only be used by members living in the same household as part of COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

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