Is Cherry Springs State Park Free?

Entrance sign to Cherry Springs State Park in Potter County, Pennsylvania

Nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania, Cherry Springs State Park is a true gem of natural beauty and wonder. As one of the best places in the eastern United States for stargazing and astrophotography, many are drawn to this park’s dark skies and stunning vistas.

However, one question that may come to mind for those planning a visit is whether or not entry to the park comes at a cost. In this post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of Cherry Springs State Park and answer the burning question: Is Cherry Springs State Park free? Read on to find out!

Cherry Springs State Park: Unbeatable Value

Potter County, Pennsylvania, is a rural county located in the north-central part of the state and is in the PA Wilds region. The county is known for its beautiful scenery, diverse wildlife, and abundant outdoor recreational opportunities.

The county is home to just 16,200 residents, many of whom are descendants of the original settlers who founded it in 1804. The county, known as “God’s Country,” is home to Cherry Springs State Park, an 82-acre paradise popular with outdoor enthusiasts.

Cherry Springs State Park is one of the very few places in the eastern United States that has the distinction of being classified as a Dark Sky Park.

Observation dome at Cherry Springs State Park

In addition, it offers a variety of activities, including camping, hiking, biking, and more, for visitors to enjoy. However, its night skies are the main attraction that draws people to the park.

Cherry Springs State Park is free to visit, but a few of the amenities do have a fee. But then again, all of Pennsylvania’s state parks are free. There is absolutely no charge to enter.

No permit or fee is required at the park unless you wish to use the Overnight Astronomy Observation Field to enjoy the night skies; you must register and pay a fee before setting up. There is also a fee to camp at the park campground.

The parking is also free, and the park is open all year round (except for the campground), so visitors can come anytime to enjoy the incredible night skies.

By not charging guests an admission fee, the state can make these natural areas accessible to everyone regardless of their economic circumstances. Free access is also helpful in raising awareness of the need to protect these extraordinary areas so they are preserved for future generations to enjoy.

Visiting one of the many state parks or forests in the state provides a much-needed respite from the stresses of everyday life. Being able to escape for a day or weekend to take your family and explore the state’s natural wonders without the financial burden of an admission fee makes it easier for more people to take advantage of these fantastic outdoor opportunities.

Pennsylvania’s commitment to keeping its parks and forests accessible and free from cost has resulted in a significant number of people being able to visit its parks throughout the years. 

Keystone Answers Fun Fact: Pennsylvania’s state flower is the mountain laurel, which has fragrant star-shaped white and pink flowers that blossom in the spring.

What Makes Cherry Springs State Park Unique?

One of the best things the park has going for it is that it is located in a remote, less populated area away from the light pollution of any major city. That makes it an ideal spot for those interested in looking at the incredible features of the night sky.

In 2008, the park officially became the first International Dark Sky Park in the eastern United States.

So what exactly does this mean? This certification is given to locations worldwide that offer exceptionally dark night skies allowing you to see the Milky Way, planets, and other celestial bodies.

Cherry Springs State Park has been designated a “Gold Level” International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association (which is the highest level).

Astronomers and visitors can bring their telescopes or binoculars or participate in one of the park’s stargazing programs, and remember to bring lawn chairs and a blanket.

In addition to the dark skies, there is a trail for hiking and a campground for overnight stays.

What Does This Free Park Have to Offer?

Cherry Springs State Park is a great place to spend the day with friends or family. Here are some of the activities you can enjoy:

Cherry Springs Working Forest Interpretive Trail, a self-guided one mile hike
  • Stargazing: The park is one of the few spots on the east coast designated as a Dark Sky Park, meaning it has almost no light pollution. This fact makes it the perfect place to marvel at the stars and galaxies above.
  • Camping: The park offers rustic camping sites with fire pits, picnic tables, and a sanitary dump station.
  •  Hiking: Cherry Springs Working Forest Interpretive Trail, 1 mile, self-guided.
  •  Picnicking: There are several picnic spots for you to enjoy a meal or snack.
  •  Bird Watching: Various bird species call the park home, from hawks and owls to songbirds and woodpeckers.
  •  Hunting: The park is open to hunting in the fall and winter months.
  •  Astronomy Programs: The park hosts a variety of astronomy programs and events throughout the summer months, allowing visitors to learn more about the stars and galaxies above. Registration is required for some of the programs.

It’s Really Free

So the answer to the question, “Is Cherry Springs State Park free?” is yes.

Visitors can enjoy the park’s night skies and other amenities, all for free. So whether you’re looking for a quiet escape or an exciting outdoor adventure, the park has something for everyone. With its beautiful scenery and incredible stargazing opportunities, Cherry Springs State Park is an ideal destination for those looking for a fun-filled day in the outdoors.

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I was born and raised in Pennsylvania; I love to travel, visit new destinations, explore unique locations, and meet great new people. However, sometimes, you don't need to travel far from home to find new adventures, so I decided now was the time to learn more about this great state I call home.