Tents at a campsite in the Shawangunk Multi Use Area. (Lauren F/Flickr Photo)

Tents at a campsite in the Shawangunk Multi Use Area. (Lauren F/Flickr Photo)

Nearly a year after opening a new camping area in the Shawangunk Mountains, New York officials are closing an old camping area in the same region.

The Shawangunk Multiple Use Area (MUA) has long been known for offering the only free camping in the Gunks, an area hugely popular among climbers. But New York Department of Environmental Conservation officials say they are closing all campsites on the 58-acre property located in Gardiner effective May 3, 2016. The property will remain open for other outdoor activities including hiking, snowshoeing, birding, picnicking, orienteering, hunting and trapping.

Officials say years of overuse in the area have negatively impacted both the natural resources and public health and safety. Because of this, DEC has been gradually reducing the number of campsites over the past years with the intention of eliminating all camping.

Last May, the Samuel F. Pryor III Shawangunk Gateway Campground, owned by New York State Parks and run by the Mohonk Preserve and American Alpine Club, opened very close to the MUA. The new 50-acre campground has roughly 50 campsites within walking distance to the Trapps and Near Trapps, which have hundreds of rock climbs. Located along Route 299, the campground is also just a short walk from the Mohonk Preserve Visitor Center.

Other nearby camping facilities offer plenty of developed camping opportunities for those who had been using the MUA. You can find more information on the MUA and other camping opportunities in the area on the DEC website.