Best Free Camping in Pennsylvania

Free Camping the Pennsylvania Wilds

By Nathan Swartz

The northern stretches of the Keystone State from the Allegheny National Forest to the "Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania" officially known as Pine Creek Gorge, are full of state and national forestland offering free campsites.

In the national forest itself, spots exist at Millstone Creek near Loleta PA, as well as along the northern border's Forest Road 160 outside of Warren. Expect primitive camping, with a fire ring and picnic table at some of these sites, pit toilets at others, but otherwise more or less bare-bones camping sites.

Through the rest of this part of PA, state forest camping can be had in abundance. Elk and Moshannon State Forests are home to numerous, though unlike many a dispersed camping experience you may be used to elsewhere, some of these sites are reservable. Expect little to no cell service across the entire region.

Free Camping in the Poconos

Across the state, in the hot spot vacation destination for Philadelphians looking to escape the city, the Poconos and state forests extending from their foothills' sprawling reach are full of hiking trails, state parks to explore, and some of the best free camping in PA. Many of these sites--like those found in the Delaware State Forest and at Moon Lake Recreation Area--seem closer to organized campgrounds at first sight, and though they're free, they do require a camping permit, which is also free.

Free Camping Near Gettysburg

History has a tendency to come to life at the site of the largest battle of the Civil War, with miles upon acres of battlefields, museums, and the downtown area itself to explore. Free camping can also be found within twenty-five minutes of the city limits as well, throughout the Michaux State Forest. These primitive sites also require a permit, at no cost, and are spread across the woodlands west of Gettysburg itself.

Free Camping Near Pittsburgh

While finding a free spot to camp outside of the City of Champions isn't exactly abundant, anyone looking to explore the Three Rivers, its many bridges and burgeoning local scene leaving a Rust Belt history behind for one of green energy and technology, a couple of options do exist.

In Washington, PA, thirty minutes from downtown PGH, the Meadows Casino offers free camping to its patrons.

If a casino parking lot doesn't quite qualify as camping in your book, and you're up for trying something completely different, a private residence 40 minutes outside of the city, the name of Havityur Way Boondocking, offers free camping, too.

Free Camping the Pennsylvania Wilds

The northern stretches of the Keystone State from the Allegheny National Forest to the "Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania" officially known as Pine Creek Gorge, are full of state and national forestland offering free campsites.

In the national forest itself, spots exist at Millstone Creek near Loleta PA, as well as along the northern border's Forest Road 160 outside of Warren. Expect primitive camping, with a fire ring and picnic table at some of these sites, pit toilets at others, but otherwise more or less bare-bones camping sites.

Through the rest of this part of PA, state forest camping can be had in abundance. Elk and Moshannon State Forests are home to numerous, though unlike many a dispersed camping experience you may be used to elsewhere, some of these sites are reservable. Expect little to no cell service across the entire region.

Free Camping in the Poconos

Across the state, in the hot spot vacation destination for Philadelphians looking to escape the city, the Poconos and state forests extending from their foothills' sprawling reach are full of hiking trails, state parks to explore, and some of the best free camping in PA. Many of these sites--like those found in the Delaware State Forest and at Moon Lake Recreation Area--seem closer to organized campgrounds at first sight, and though they're free, they do require a camping permit, which is also free.

Free Camping Near Gettysburg

History has a tendency to come to life at the site of the largest battle of the Civil War, with miles upon acres of battlefields, museums, and the downtown area itself to explore. Free camping can also be found within twenty-five minutes of the city limits as well, throughout the Michaux State Forest. These primitive sites also require a permit, at no cost, and are spread across the woodlands west of Gettysburg itself.

Free Camping Near Pittsburgh

While finding a free spot to camp outside of the City of Champions isn't exactly abundant, anyone looking to explore the Three Rivers, its many bridges and burgeoning local scene leaving a Rust Belt history behind for one of green energy and technology, a couple of options do exist.

In Washington, PA, thirty minutes from downtown PGH, the Meadows Casino offers free camping to its patrons.

If a casino parking lot doesn't quite qualify as camping in your book, and you're up for trying something completely different, a private residence 40 minutes outside of the city, the name of Havityur Way Boondocking, offers free camping, too.

portable computer displaying map of camping locations
mobile device showing map of camping locations

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Recent Pennsylvania Free Campsite Reviews

Sep 20, 2021

"Everything they say it is"

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I don't live far from Erie, but had more to do in Erie than I could fit in one evening. Decided to take the camper and dog along for the ride. Called ahead and was assured by Casino they allow parking, but wasn't sure about unhooking and leaving the camper there. No problem at all! This front parking lot is huge and hardly used by anyone...
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Jeff Geer
1 review
Delaware Water Gap, PA

Delaware Water Gap Welcome Center

Sep 20, 2021

"Nice free overnight parking"

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We were looking for a safe place to just pull over for the night. This was a perfect location. We thought by the photos in others reviews it looked like it was bigger than it is. Maybe only 10 slots for rv’s. The 2 on the ends were perfect if you have slides however all the slots were wide enough for slides and steps. I would have been nervous...
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Jeff Peck
6 reviews
Sep 19, 2021

"Nice Area, Bad Signal"

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Cool little spot that had a grill, table, and fire ring. Not big enough for a large RV, but tent camping or van life would work. Signal was very spotty. I think there were too many people on the same tower. There was good signal before 8 AM and after 7 PM. Also, there’s a nice day picnic area down the road with a couple of trails nearby. You do...
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Vanessa Lansdale
22 reviews
Hamburg, PA

Cabela's

Sep 17, 2021

"Great Overnight Spot "

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Great spot to stay overnight while in route. They have a dump station with non-potable water. Massive lot has plenty of spaces for RVs. You can hear some highway noise but it’s not overbearing.

Nicole Snow
10 reviews
Hunlock Creek, PA

Moon Lake Recreation Area

Sep 11, 2021

"Amazing site"

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The permit to camp here was very easy to obtain. This place does fill up however and is very active. Forest rangers patrol here regularly and make multiple passes throughout the day. Site 12 was very well kept and had plenty of space. The sites are a bit close together however, and there is no real privacy but everyone here at the time was...
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Rich Robertson
10 reviews