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Register this week for free camping in NYC parks!

Not a hobo city: It’s real camping in Prospect Park

Yesterday morning I was rudely awakened by the sound of a chopper apparently preparing to land on my roof. No big deal, just a partial building collapse a few blocks away.¬†Living in New York we get used to falling asleep to the piercing drone of sirens and jolting awake to a violent symphony of dump trucks and jackhammers. But we live within a diverse urban ecosystem that includes many acres of wooded refuge. This summer, the NYC Parks Department is encouraging us to “unplug from the diversions of everyday life,” and “connect with the natural world,” by offering free camping in public parks in all five boroughs. Registration is extremely limited and will be assigned via lottery for each program including dates in Brooklyn’s Prospect, Marine and Fort Greene Parks this week.

The first campout in Brooklyn is July 14 in Prospect Park. The lottery will open for registration this Wednesday, (July 4), for a 24-hour window beginning at 12am. Go to NYC Parks Urban Park Rangers program registration system to enter or call 718-421-2021 between 10am and 4pm.

The website repeatedly refers to this as a “family camping” program, so don’t expect to be crushing AmeriCans by the campfire ’til the sun comes up. But a nice (sober), quiet (sober) weekend of wholesome (sober), family-bonding activities might do wonders for roommate relations.

The website claims dinner is provided, but line your rucksack with essentials just in case you get trapped under a rock and have to cut off a limb to survive the harsh conditions of rural Brooklyn. (No artisanal mayonnaise for miles?! The horror.) Don’t forget you can rent camping gear.

Other Brooklyn campout dates:

  • Friday, July 27 – Fort Greene Park – Online registration Wednesday, July 18, 12am
  • Friday, August 10 – Marine Park – Online registration Wednesday, Aug. 1
  • Saturday, August 25 – Prospect Park – Online registration Wednesday, August 15
  • Friday, August 31 – Marine Park – Online registration Wednesday, August 22
For camping dates in Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island and other free NYC Parks activities see the Urban Park Rangers calendar.


  1. Steven Hunt

    Will there be security posted? I’ve never felt completely safe walking through Prospect Park at night, let alone pitching a tent and sleeping in the park…

    Are campfires permitted?

    Are dogs permitted?

  2. jamie

    I did this last year in Prospect Park! I was expecting to not get chosen, thinking that EVERYONE would want to do this. Not the case. The park called me back 2 hours later extremely excited, happy and anxious about my interest.

    Got there the next day, was only myself and my boyfriend, and three families with little kids. No one else! There were 12-ish park rangers who were camping WITH us.

    They made us use THEIR tents, even though we brought our own, and it was totally not waterproof. It was a terrential downpour and my boyfriend and I ran home to my Prospect Heights apartment in the dark at 10pm.

    I might actually try for a 2nd time though. The thought of waking (legally) in Prospect Park is surreal to me.

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