Pennsylvania Parks Packed This Summer
In these economically challenged times, camping vacations are on the rise in Pennsylvania.
The state park system is already seeing about 1,000 more campers this year than in 2008, according to the Harrisburg Patriot News.
On Memorial Day, the state park system reported almost all of its 7,870 campsites filled.
"We feel like people are looking for more affordable options, for options that are closer to home," said Christina Novak, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
With 339 campsites along its lake, Gifford Pinchot State Park in northern York County is one of the largest campgrounds in the state. The weekend of July 24-26, it was almost full.
"That's not normal this time of year," said Jesse Taylor, assistant park ranger.
Campsites start at $18 a night at Pinchot.
"You don't have to be to be rich to go camping," said Robert Borchert, 80, of Mount Laurel, N.J., who has been camping since he was 5. He believes the recession is why so many campers are coming out to the woods this summer.
"The focus for travel this year is on value," said David Brown, executive director of the America Outdoors Association. "Many people are opting for family experiences that are within their new budget priorities."
Camping fits that description.
"It's one of those things that doesn't really require a lot of money after your initial investment," said Meghan McCain, manager of the Wildware Backcountry store for outdoors gear in Harrisburg. "Once you have the stuff you need, you're pretty much good to go."