Pa. state parks brace for busy fall after COVID-19 drew large summer crowds

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania state parks are gearing up for a busy fall season after seeing a record number of people explore the outdoors over the summer.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Cindy Adams Dunn, secretary of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said the number of people who visited state parks was through the roof.

“We had over 20 million visits in state parks, and that’s 5 million more than last year,” she said. “And, we expect it to roll right into the fall.”

Adams Dunn believes the first weekend of fall — the season officially begins Tuesday — will draw people to the outdoors for different adventures.

“A lot of people turn to trails and hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, leaf-peeping,” she said. “The welcome mat’s down, the parks are open. We expect that activity to roll right into the fall and even right into the winter.”

She said hikers, especially, utilize the region’s many trails.

“We have a tremendous trail system throughout southeast Pennsylvania,” she noted. “Some of them are very long trails. You can do different sections at different times by bike, some of them allow horseback, some are just hiking trails.”

Adams Dunn said campsite reservations for the fall are quickly filling up, too, so she urges those interested to reserve one online now.

The colorful changes to the leaves will be a big draw as well, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will stock certain lakes within state parks.

“Check out a new place,” Adams Dunn advised. “Travel a little farther, maybe. Check out a park you haven’t seen. Bring your camera — fall’s beautiful. And, keep on coming. Make it a habit.”