The Arboretum at Penn State

Visitor Information

The H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens and all other parts of the Arboretum are open to the public without charge. The Arboretum is not a public park or playground, however, and we ask that you respect the special nature of this University facility as a place for study, research, reflection, and enjoyment. To help us to preserve the Arboretum and make everyone’s visit enjoyable, please abide by our rules and policies. Solicitations are not permitted in the Arboretum. Non-University individuals and groups may not use the facilities in the Arboretum for fundraising or for commercial purposes.

Arboretum visitors must follow University COVID-19 safety requirements. Masks are required indoors for unvaccinated visitors on campus. By attending or participating in Arboretum programs, events, or activities, visitors agree to adhere to Penn State’s guidance and policies, acknowledge the risk of being exposed to or infected by COVID-19, and assume any and all such risk.
COVID Acknowledgment Policy Statement

GROUP VISITOR INQUIRY FORM


The Arboretum is open every day from dawn until dusk.
There is no admission charge for visiting the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens or the Arboretum land beyond the gardens. Please follow University policy  for social distancing (staying 6′ away from other visitors) and wear a mask to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

  • Visitor parking is available in the Lewis Katz Building lot, just across Bigler Road from the old Arboretum lot.
  • To park in the Katz lot, Arboretum visitors who do not hold a Penn State parking permit that is valid in an Orange lot must pay a fee of $1/hour. Payment may be made via the pay station in the Katz Building lot via credit card, or via the ParkMobile app, which is also available for use in many other parking lots on campus. Visitors may download the ParkMobile app or visit ParkMobile’s Penn State site to learn more. Parking fees apply 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Visitors will be able to purchase parking for a maximum of two hours during weekdays when Penn State classes are in session during the fall and spring semesters. On weekdays during the summer and winter breaks, visitors will be able to extend their length of stay. On Saturdays and Sundays, all-day parking will be available at the rate of $8.
  • Visitors with Penn State parking permits may use the Katz lot at any time if their permit is valid in Orange campus lots. For those whose permit is not valid in Orange lots, the Katz lot may be used after 4:00 p.m. on weekdays and all day Saturday and Sunday.
  • Two ADA-accessible parking spots remain available near the Overlook Pavilion.
  • Another option on any day is to pay $1/hour to park in the East Parking Deck on Bigler Road.
  • All campus visitor parking information, including how to obtain daily, evening, overnight, weekend, and event parking permits, is available at https://transportation.psu.edu/visitors.

Important: Over-sized vehicles such as school buses, motor coaches, and recreational vehicles may not be parked in the Lewis Katz parking lot. Drivers of large vehicles may let passengers disembark in the Katz lot but they must move their vehicles to the Porter North parking lot on Porter Road near Beaver Stadium. Click here to see a map showing the route from the Arboretum’s parking lot to the Porter North parking lot. On holidays and weekends, over-size vehicles may be parked in the Lewis Katz Building lot if there is sufficient space available.

Note: Drivers will have to use the pay station ($1 per hour) in the Porter North lot on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

If you are hosting an event or bringing a group to the Arboretum, you can also consider hiring a shuttle to transport your guests or contact the University’s Parking Office to make arrangements for parking.

The Arboretum offers guided group tours. To schedule a tour, contact Timothy Gould.

Docent-Led Tour Policy

GROUP VISITOR INQUIRY FORM

School groups (including home school groups) and child-related organizations (such as daycare, 4-H, and scouting groups) must make reservations (Timothy Gould – t.w.gould@psu.edu) to visit the gardens. Children must be supervised by an adult. For more information regarding the use of our Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden, please view our Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden Guidelines.

Group Visit Policy 2021

GROUP VISITOR INQUIRY FORM

Many areas in the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens are available for private rental. Contact Kate Reeder in advance of your visit if you wish to schedule a gathering or event.
Barbeque grills are not permitted in the Arboretum, but you can read about the many public parks in the State College area where grilling is allowed at http://www.crpr.org/find-your-park.

If you are interested in renting a pavilion for a gathering in any of the local and regional parks, visit http://www.crpr.org/parks/pages/pavilion-rentals. Please note that the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority will not accept requests to reserve a pavilion less than 60 days in advance.

Stop by the Centre County/Penn State Visitor Center at 800 East Park Avenue (a short distance from the Arboretum) for maps showing the locations of local eateries.

H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens
The Arboretum at Penn State
Corner of Park Avenue and Bigler Road
University Park PA 16802
Wheelchairs and baby carriages or strollers are welcome in the gardens and all of the major walkways are accessible. Other means of transportation, such as Segways, bicycles, scooters, razors, and similar recreational devices are not permitted in the gardens. If you require special accommodations for mobility, please contact Kathleen K. Reeder (kkr1@psu.edu).

Garden Map

The Arboretum is at the corner of Park Avenue and Bigler Road. The entrance to the parking lot of the gardens is on Bigler Road. Visitors arriving by automobile from distant locations should exit the I-99/Route 322/Mount Nittany Expressway at Park Avenue and proceed southwest to Bigler Road.

Those arriving from the south on Routes 26 or 45 should take Route 26 to Whitehall Road/University Drive and thence to Park Avenue and turn left.

Those approaching from the University Park Airport should travel southwest and then southeast on Fox Hill/Fox Hollow Road to Park Avenue and turn right.

There are no public roads through the larger Arboretum, but the woodlands, fields, and Bellefonte Central Rail Trail are accessible by foot or bicycle from several adjacent neighborhoods.

  • From College Heights – Follow the McKee Street/Clinton Avenue bike path from Sunset Park at the end of McKee Street down into Big Hollow and turn right (onto the Bellefonte Central Rail Trail). This trail traverses the Arboretum.
  • From Campus or Fox Hollow Road – Follow Big Hollow Road from its intersection with Services Road on the northwestern edge of campus to the University’s maintenance depot along Fox Hollow Road (shortly before the I-99 overpass).
  • From Overlook Heights – Follow the path from the termination of East Aaron Drive in the College Heights neighborhood into the fields.
  • From Toftrees – Enter the Arboretum from the Toftrees residential development by following the railroad bed that becomes the Bellefonte Central Rail Trail.

View or print a map of the Arboretum:

Arboretum map

H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens Map

Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden Map

Marilyn Quigley Gerhold Wildflower Trail Map

Discover the Arboretum through our interactive maps:

Plant Finder

Blooming Bulbs 
(A map of the bulbs in bloom throughout the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens)

Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden Tour

Commemorative Finder (commemorative benches, trees, recognition plaques)

Explore the rest of the University Park campus:

Self-Guided Campus Tour of University Park

Click on the above image to view the Arboretum’s location on Penn State’s interactive campus map.