There’s nothing like camping in the great outdoors, and few places in the U.S. are more perfect for adventurers than Pennsylvania.
Roasting hotdogs on sticks and making s’mores are time-honored traditions that everyone should experience at least once in their lives. Pennsylvania is a wonderful place to pitch a tent under the stars and roast in front of a typical campfire, but adventure-seekers and families alike will come to realize that these parks offer far, far more activities than meets the eye.
Come along with us on a journey of the 5 best camping spots in the state.
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No outdoor area is more synonymous with Pennsylvania than the famed Pocono Mountains. The Poconos offer dozens of different camp areas and activities for adventurers. Options range from traditional campgrounds where campfires and tents are common to incredibly stylish alternate accommodation choices.
Otter Lake Camp boasts a stunning 60 acre private lake for fishing and boating. The camp gets families involved with scheduled activities in sports, movies, dancing, and crafts. Mountain Vista Campground is a top pick for campers interested in gem mining. Pitch a tent, stay in your RV, or rent a cabin at this scenic forest retreat.
Want to camp out in a premium cabin? At Mountain Springs Lake Resort, the park has fully furnished family cabins and cottages through over 325 private woodland acres. Activities include hiking, biking, swimming, tennis, and fishing. If rowing’s your ticket, then you’ll be happy to note that each cabin comes equipped with a rowboat.
Elizabeth Richardson, the Public Relations Manager for the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, says the sky is the limit when it comes to the Poconos. “Along with the endless activities offered at camping resorts, the Pocono Mountains are home to waterparks, treetop obstacle courses, state and national parks, and adventure parks that will surely create lasting memories.”
The historic Gettysburg National Military Park, where Lincoln made his famous address over 150 years ago, is an excellent destination for the whole family. “It [is] easy to spend multiple days taking in the local sites and activities, not only on the famous battlefield, but also right at each individual resort,” states Allison Hagerman, the Communications Coordinator for Destination Gettysburg. “The campgrounds in Gettysburg are very family-friendly, and offer numerous programs on the weekends throughout the camping season…These programs range from Halloween celebrations to chili cook-offs and offer campers a chance to interact with one another.”
For history aficionados, the campgrounds found here have a lot to offer. Different types of historical tours are available at the Artillery Ridge Campground and the Gettysburg KOA Campground, which often host living history encampments and nightly movies on the battlefield’s history. “But don’t be fooled by Gettysburg’s historic façade. There is plenty to do beyond the battlefield,” Allison reports.
Other activities include fishing on Marsh Creek, playing Frisbee golf, watching live performances, and attending local festivals. The bi-annual Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival is held at the Granite Hill Camping Resort and the famous National Apple Harvest Festival is another local treat for visitors to the area.
Pine Cradle Lake Family Campground is a hidden gem of Pennsylvania camping areas. Jennifer Schwartz from the Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds represents more than 3,100 campgrounds nationwide, but feels this one deserves special recognition. “It truly is a hidden treasure.” Jennifer says of the camp area located in the “Endless Mountains” of Northeast PA.
Campers will find a wide range of accommodation choices here that are sure to suit all tastes. RV spots, cabins, and tent sites are all available for those staying at Pine Cradle Lake. Guests at this location can easily prepare barbeque on the standing grills, go fishing, or play shuffleboard with their families. For those that want to cruise around the lake, the campground offers boat rentals. Jennifer also recommends this park for men looking for an extreme, adrenaline-fueled “man-cation.”
Raccoon Creek State Park is a 7,572 acre park that should be on every Pennsylvanian’s bucket list. This park has 44 miles of hiking trails and a swimming area at the beach. Campground visitors can easily rent rowboats, canoes, kayaks and hydro-bikes for even more fun. Visitors at Raccoon Creek can choose from cabins as well as tent and RV sites with a variety of different features. This park also boasts new shower houses and will soon offer full hook up sites for their guests.
Sarah Dippold, the Assistant Manager for Raccoon Creek State Park, says this site is full of many special wonders. “There are many beautiful places within this 7,572 acre park such as the Wildflower Reserve with over 700 species of plants, or the Frankfort Mineral Springs with its cascading waterfall, rich history, and rumors of ghosts.”
Greenwood Furnace State Park sits at the heart of the majestic, 90,000-acre Rothrock State Forest at the center of Pennsylvania. A short drive away from State College, PA, the park is a mountain retreat full of recreational opportunities. Matt Price, Executive Director of the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau, speaks fondly of the park’s rich history. “The area was home to a bustling ironmaking community in the 1800s, and many historic buildings, including one of the furnaces, remain. Old Home Days Heritage Festival celebrates the community’s history every August with demonstrations, presentations, and interactive events.”
Visitors can choose to stay at one of 50 sites in the wooden campground. Try hiking trails of different difficulty levels. Sail down the mountains on your bike in technical singletrack and gravel roads. After a long day, you can even cool off in a mountain-stream-fed lake, or fish on its shores. Matt suggests leaving time to visit in the colder months as well. “The area is just as fun to explore by snowmobile or cross-country skis in winter.”
Have you ever visited one of these parks? Tell us your story in the comments below, or let us know why you think another camping area should be on this list.