Seniors and people with disabilities can enjoy a PA state parks discount on camping when they visit any of Pennsylvania’s 124 parks that have campsites. The reduced fees are intended to make it easier for seniors and disabled people to enjoy a longer stay at the park.
In this article, we’ll review everything you need to know about Pennsylvania’s 300,000 acres of designated parks. We’ll also discuss the discount, who is eligible for it and how you can get it for yourself.
About PA State Parks
Pennsylvania boasts an impressive collection of 124 state parks, each offering a unique experience with its diverse landscapes and recreational activities. Whether you prefer leisurely hikes on picturesque trails, casting your line into pristine streams, or simply relishing the serenity of nature, these parks cater to a wide range of interests and preferences.
Some of Pennsylvania’s most popular state parks include:
- Presque Isle State Park in Erie
- Pymatuning State Park in Jamestown
- Prince Gallitzin State Park in Patton
- Point State Park in Pittsburgh
- Codorus State Park in Hanover
All of these parks welcome more than one million visitors per year, many of whom aren’t aware of the PA state parks discount on camping!
How much does it cost to visit PA State Parks?
Admission to PA state parks is free for everyone. The state does not charge entrance fees or day use fees for anyone to visit any state parks in Pennsylvania.
However, there are extra services available that do cost money. You will have to pay to reserve a cabin or a campsite, for example. Boating, picnicking and swimming sometimes cost extra as well.
If you want to stay overnight but don’t want to camp, PA state parks offer a wide variety of lodging options for you. Different parks have different accomodations.
Some of the options available at the parks include:
- Modern cabins
- Rustic cabins
- Deluxe cottages
- Basic cottages
The fees vary from $49/night for a basic yurt to $816 for a spacious modern cabin that sleeps up to 12 people. It will depend on the season, the occupancy, and the fees assessed by the specific park you are visiting.
The peak season is the most expensive. Peak season spans from the second Friday in June through the third Friday in August. At some parks, peak season continues through November or even March.
The good news is that all Pennsylvania residents can get a PA state parks discount on lodging. The resident price is much lower than the non-resident price. For example, a yurt that would cost a resident only $49 per night would cost a resident $56 per night!
You can also stay overnight at a campsite but you usually need to reserve it in advance. This is when the PA state parks discount for seniors and disabled people comes into play!
If you are over 62 years old or living with a disability, you can pay less for your campsite. The discount will allow you to save $4.50 per day off the regular price. In order to receive this rate, an eligible person must reserve and occupy the campsite. You may be asked to show proof of age or disability when you check in. This could be as simple as showing a photo ID or a disability benefits award letter.
Of course, all Pennsylvania residents can also get a resident discount at PA state parks. Residents always pay less than non-residents for their campsite and extra amenities.
For an extra fee, PA state parks also offer:
- Pet access
- Extra vehicles
- Equestrian sites
- and more!
If you decide to camp at the park, please remember that alcohol is not allowed in any Pennsylvania state parks. You can only have one vehicle with you unless you pay an extra fee. Visitors must leave by 10pm unless they are staying overnight. There are other rules as well, which will likely be posted at your campground when you arrive.
There are extra fees associated with mooring as well. The state charges fees for boat launches, moorage, storage space, winter boat storage, and more.
The availability and pricing of these services will vary depending on which park you choose to visit. As always, residents enjoy a PA state parks discount and pay less than non-residents.
When I first read that there were extra fees for swimming at PA state parks, I was shocked! Most state parks don’t do that. However, I later saw that the state charges for swimming pool access which is understandable.
There are park-operated swimming pools in certain parks. The prices are set by concessionaires and may vary depending on which park you visit.
However, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources indicates that there are discounts for seniors, late arrivals, children, and those who have already paid for camping or lodging at the park. Season passes may also be available for those who visit frequently.
It appears that swimming pools are available at the following PA state parks:
- Caledonia State Park
- Codorus State Park
- Frances Slocum State Park
- Lackawana State Park
- Little Buffalo State Park
- Nockamixon State Park
Do PA State Parks charge for picnicking?! This was also surprising to me at first, but then I realized that the state was only talking about designated picnic pavilions and other reservable spaces. It does not look like you have to pay a fee just to bring lunch with you to the park.
For example, the state lists fees for pavilions with electricity or without electricity. They also have prices for other facilities, like amphitheaters, meeting rooms, and special events like astronomy observations.
It does not appear that you have to pay a fee to eat in the park unless you decide to reserve a dedicated picnicking space. If you do decide to reserve a picnic pavilion, remember that residents get a discount!
Pennsylvania residents can get a PA state parks discount on all fee-based activities such as camping, lodging, boating, swimming and reserving special facilities. Seniors and people with disabilities can enjoy an even greater discount on camping! Although admission is free, we’ve still found several great ways to save money on your next visit to Pennsylvania’s beautiful state parks.