Tent with snowshoes embedded in the snowy landscape

Camping Rules and Guidelines

Please note: Specific land units in the forest preserve may have regulations that differ from the rules and guidelines listed below. For information about specific land areas, look at our regulations page or contact the Regional Office near the land unit of interest.

Rules and guidelines for the use of public lands managed by DEC are generally as follows:

  • Camping is prohibited within 150 feet of any road, trail, spring, stream, pond or other body of water except at areas designated by a “camp here” disk.
  • Groups of ten or more persons OR stays of more than three days in one place require a permit from the New York State Forest Ranger responsible for the area.
  • Sponsoring, conducting or participating in an organized hike, camping trip or other event with more than 20 people on state lands without a permit from DEC is prohibited.
  • Lean-tos are available in many areas on a first come first served basis. Lean-tos cannot be used exclusively and must be shared with other campers.
  • Use pit privies provided near popular camping areas and trailheads. If none are available, dispose of human waste by digging a hole 6″-8″ deep at least 150 feet from water or campsites. Cover with leaves and soil.
  • Do not use soap to wash yourself, clothing or dishes within 150 ft of water.
  • Drinking and cooking water should be boiled for 5 minutes, treated with purifying tablets or filtered through filtration device to prevent instances of giardia infection.
  • Fires should be built in existing fire pits or fireplaces if provided. Use only dead and down wood for fires. Cutting standing trees is prohibited. Extinguish all fires with water and stir ashes until they are cold to the touch. Do not build fires in areas marked by a “No Fires” disk. Camp stoves are safer, more efficient and cleaner.
  • Carry out what you carry in. Practice “leave no trace” camping and hiking.
  • Keep your pet under control. Restrain it on a leash when others approach. Collect and bury droppings away from water, trails and camp sites. Keep your pet away from drinking water sources.
  • Observe and enjoy wildlife and plants but leave them undisturbed.
  • Removing plants, rocks, fossils or artifacts from state land without a permit is illegal.
  • The storage of personal property on state land is prohibited.
  • Carry an approved personal flotation device (pfd) for each person aboard all watercraft.
  • Except in an emergency or between December 15th and April 30th, camping is prohibited above an elevation of 4,000 feet in the Adirondacks.
  • Except in an emergency or between December 21st and March 21st, camping is prohibited above an elevation of 3,500 feet in the Catskills.
  • At all times, only emergency fires are permitted above 4,000 feet in the Adirondacks and 3,500 feet in the Catskills.