Pennsylvania is one of just nine states in the country with all of their parks free to visit for in- and out-of-state visitors. But that’s not all! Pennsylvania also offers plenty of other free amenities, activities and equipment for state parks and forest visitors.

I’m often surprised by how much the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources offers to visitors. There’s hardly a visit to a park where I don’t find a flier for a free guided tour, class or equipment loaner program that visitors can benefit from.

And often, these free amenities are often overlooked by who have no idea what’s available to them.  But not today!

This blog is all about the great, free things that are available in Pennsylvania state parks and forests.


A yellow canister on a pole about 3 feet tall sits near the beach at Laurel Hill State Park

A sunscreen dispenser at Laurel Hill State Park // Photo provided by Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR)


In 2022, the DCNR expanded  the number of state parks with dispensers of free sunscreen at their beaches and swimming pools to 33.

The free sunscreen program began in 2017 in Codorus and Pine Grove Furnace State Parks. Soon, it expanded to many parks around the Commonwealth. Here’s a list of all the state parks that offer the free sunscreen.

The free sunscreen is provided by a pole-mounted, battery-operated dispensers that supply 30+ SPF BrightGuard sunscreen.

IN 2023, State Parks Director John Hallas said, “This sunscreen program has been invaluable helping park visitors prevent harmful exposure to the sun each year.”

So just in case you forgot your sunscreen, DCNR’s got you.


10 people, 9 men and 1 woman, scattered over a large dock fishing, most are standing

Several people enjoy fishing at Prince Gallitzin State Park – Photo by Steven Sybert

Fishing Equipment 

Ever want to try out fishing, but didn’t want to spend the money to buy a rod, reel and tackle to find out if you’d like it? Well, say no more.

Through a partnership with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the American Sportfishing Association, and DCNR, the public can borrow fishing rods, reels, and an equipped tackle box to try fishing while at certain parks.

As of 2023, there are 38 state parks that participate in the tackle loaner program. You can find a full list of the participating parks here.


Snowshoes with various color bindings laid out and ready for use in the snow

Snowshoes are lined up and ready to borrow at Ohiopyle State Park // Photo provided by DCNR


I recently found out about an awesome program through the Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center.  In the winter months, the office manages and operates a Snow Shoe Learner Program to guests and visitors interested in trying their hand at snowshoeing..

The park has  a network of 18.5 miles of trails for use by cross-country skiers, snowshoeing, horseback riders, all-terrain bikers, and hikers. So you’ll have plenty of areas to explore with your new snowshoes!



Electric Vehicle Charging

PA DCNR has made an investment to support those who have decided to go electric.

There are currently 41 electric vehicle charging stations available to use by park and forest visitors who drive plugin hybrid or full electric-powered vehicles.

The stations can fully charge vehicles in 2.5 to 7 hours. The stations are located in 34 state parks and 4 state forests across the Commonwealth.

Here’s a list of parks and forests with the charging stations.


Christian Alexandersen 2022

Written by Christian Alexandersen

Christian Alexandersen ran one mile in each of Pennsylvania’s 124 state parks and has been sharing his passion for public lands with us since 2021. Christian is the host of the Hemlocks to Hellbenders Podcast – which highlights our state parks, forests and great outdoors. You can listen wherever podcasts are found, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

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Equipment and More: A brief breakdown of free things in our state parks, forests