Camping regulations for privately-owned campgrounds differ throughout Central New York

Local News

(WSYR-TV) — If you were looking forward to that perfectly roasted marshmallow smushed between two graham crackers and a piece of chocolate, you may have to wait longer than anticipated depending where you’re looking to camp.

In their list of essential services, Empire State Development has very little guidance towards campgrounds.

On their website, Empire State Development says parks are open, but playgrounds and other areas of congregation where social distancing can not be followed are closed. 

There is no specific designation towards campgrounds and overnight camping. This left many counties in Central New York wondering what to do with camping season getting underway.

For state campgrounds, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued guidance that does not allow overnight camping until June 1. State parks remain open for day use in New York State, but overnight camping is currently prohibited.

For privately-owned campgrounds, finding a concrete answer for overnight camping can be difficult depending on where you live. 

Oneida County:

According to a spokesperson with the Oneida County Health Department, all campgrounds in Oneida County are currently closed for overnight camping until July 1. However, the spokesperson did say the July 1 date is subject to change.

Onondaga County:

According to the Onondaga County Parks website, Onondaga County is currently not allowing overnight camping on any campgrounds they own, and they are also not accepting further reservations at this time.

Privately owned campgrounds within the county are allowed to open and operate at this time, but they must close all communal areas and abide by a special set of social distancing guidelines mandated by the state.

There is no date as to when the camping ban may be lifted in parks owned and operated by Onondaga County.

Cortland County:

A spokesperson for the Cortland County Health Department said overnight camping is currently being permitted. In order to be open, campgrounds in Cortland County must be in compliance with all executive orders related to the transmission of COVID-19.

Cayuga County:

In Cayuga County, they are only allowing campers who plan on staying at a campground for an extended period of time. The county also has a specific set of rules for campers who plan on camping in Cayuga County for an extended period of time.

A spokesperson for the Cayuga County Health Department said the county continues to re-evaluate the situation with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Oswego County:

On Sunday, May 3, the Oswego County Health Department notified private campgrounds that they can begin to accept season-long campers. However, season-long campers must be in compliance with social distancing guidelines while camping.

The county did not have a date as to when private campgrounds could start accepting recreational campers.

Madison County:

On the Madison County website, it says only campers with recreational vehicles that have bathroom facilities inside their vehicles will be allowed for overnight camping.

Due to COVID-19, tent camping will not be allowed in Madison County at this time.

If you are camping in Madison County, you must abide by social distancing rules, and will not be allowed on any campsites other than your own. All common areas in campgrounds will also be closed at this time to stop the potential spread of COVID-19.

Chenango County:

A spokesperson for Chenango County said the county is still awaiting more guidance from the New York State Department of Health and/or Empire State Development.

However, Tall Pines Campground & River Adventures, located in Bainbridge, New York, is able to take reservations and host overnight campers, but there are numerous rules in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while camping. 

In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state did not give proper guidelines towards privately-owned campgrounds. Now, many counties throughout the state are trying to determine if they can and should allow overnight camping, as prime camping season quickly approaches.

If you are unsure about any camping regulations, contact the specific campground you are interested in directly.


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