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High visitation levels expected for state parks, forests


Harrisburg, PA — Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said Pennsylvania state parks and forests are open for the unofficial start of the summer season, and reminded Pennsylvanians of the guidelines in place so that all visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience.

“Pennsylvania state parks and forests are a great way to enjoy nature and break up your normal routine with outdoor activities,” Dunn said. “We ask park visitors to be respectful of the guidelines as we approach Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer months when we are expecting large numbers of visitors.”

Visitors must continue to follow the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on masking.

The CDC guidance states that fully vaccinated individuals — two weeks after their final dose — can resume activities that they did prior to the pandemic without wearing a mask or physically distancing.

For unvaccinated individuals, the Secretary of Health’s universal face covering order remains in effect and individuals, including children, must still comply with the Order.

Once 70 percent of Pennsylvanians over the age of 18 are fully vaccinated, Pennsylvania will lift the masking order.

“We are asking visitors to remain respectful of guidelines and other people as we transition to more normal operations,” Dunn said. “Time in the outdoors has been a means for coping during the pandemic, and we expect many people will continue to seek those opportunities now that they know the wonderful natural places we have in the commonwealth.”

A number of state parks and forest recreation areas are expected to see crowding during holidays and weekends, especially when the weather is favorable.

Visitors always are encouraged to consider options for less crowded locations and visit during weekdays if possible.

Overnight accommodations such as camping and cabins for the Memorial Day weekend are close to capacity.

Reservations can be made 11 months in advance, and the state park reservation system will provide information about availability.

Through May 31, attendance for outdoor programming is capped at 40 people, including park staff.

Beginning June 1, there will not be any attendance limits on outdoor programming.

Indoor programming attendance limits will be capped at 50 percent.

State park visitation saw a 26 percent increase during the COVID-19 pandemic and DCNR expects that growth to continue as many people have added park use to their normal routines.

In 2020, parks welcomed 46.9 million visitors compared to 37 million visitors in 2019.

For more information about state parks and state forests visit the DCNR website.