Pennsylvania state parks set records as outdoor escape from pandemic

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania’s state parks are setting records for campground usage as more people seek an outdoor escape from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cindy Adams Dunn, secretary of the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said since Gov. Tom Wolf lifted coronavirus stay-at-home orders in May, people have been packing up their tents and sleeping bags, or towing campers and driving RVs to state parks in big numbers.

For the recent July Fourth holiday weekend alone, nearly all of the more than 6,000 campsites across the state park system were filled.

“We’ve seen record campground reservations,” Dunn said. “If you’re planning to go camping in a state park, make that reservation well ahead of time because they’re filling up much earlier than usual.

“You really can’t count on going to a state park and having an availability if you haven’t made a reservation. So that’s something to keep in mind.”

She said it’s not just weekends, but whole weeks as well. Dunn said cabins and lodges available at many sites are especially popular.

As an example of how heavily the parks are being used, she said in Chester County, Marsh Creek recorded a more than 100 percent increase in campsite usage for the entire month of June, compared to a year ago.

And, looking at Nockamixon in Bucks County, just outside of Quakertown, she said they saw a 400% bump in campground use in the first two weeks of June.

Camopers can make reservations online. Or call toll-free: 888-PA-PARKS.