With activities for all four seasons, camping in Pennsylvania is the perfect way to take in the state's wild forests and Appalachian mountains.
Pennsylvania is a land of contrasts. Historic cities and industrial towns give way to the patchwork farmlands of Amish Country and the rugged hills of the Appalachian Trail. Dramatic canyons and forested mountains sweep through the heart of the Keystone State, providing endless terrain for hiking, kayaking, and mountain biking. Pennsylvania weather is notoriously changeable, but the best season for camping is May through October. Snow covers much of the state from December through March, so swap tent camping for a heated RV, replace your hiking boots with snowshoes, and head to one of 22 ski resorts.
The evocatively named Pennsylvania Wilds blanket the north and boast some of the state’s best camping and hiking. Views of Pine Creek Gorge, the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania,” can be enjoyed at Leonard Harrison and Colton Point State Parks, and there are primitive tent sites and RV sites in the surrounding Tioga State Forest. To the west, the Allegheny National Forest covers more than 500,000 acres, with kayaking, ATV and mountain biking trails, and a national scenic byway.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s second-largest city, is the first stop in the state’s southwestern corner, and several state parks lie within easy reach. Top of the list is Ohiopyle State Park, where adrenaline seekers go to raft or kayak along the white-water rapids of the Youghiogheny River. In the north, camp resorts and RV parks with full hookups dot the shores of Lake Erie, and you can hop over to the Presque Isle State Park to hike, windsurf, and bird-watch.
West of the Philadelphia region, the state capital, Harrisburg, is the gateway to the southern stretch of Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Trail. Just to the south, a day trip to the chocolate capital of Hersey is a must to stock up for all those s’mores around the campfire, and there’s back-to-basics camping in Amish Country around Lancaster. The Allegheny Mountains rise to the west, where campers can hike in the backwoods, paddle along lazy rivers, or hit the ski slopes.
All roads in eastern Pennsylvania lead to Philadelphia, where you can dive into US history and take a peek at the Liberty Bell. For a wilderness camping experience, head north into the Poconos Mountains—there are more than 100 miles of hiking trails in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, including 28 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Further west, Ricketts Glen State Park has waterfall hikes and a family campground with yurts, cabin rentals, RV camping, and tent sites.