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6.28.2020

PA Camping Bucket List: Our 16 Favorite Campgrounds in Pennsylvania

Throughout my entire life, my family has always camped. Now that I am an adult, I still go out and camp.  My family always had a camper and Brit and I have taken to tent camping. In all of my years of camping, these places have stood out as our favorites within the state, or right across the border. There are several omissions on this list, either because we did not have a great experience at them, or simply because we have not camped at EVERY place within the entire state. We only write about places that we have personally visited and recommend to visit. Here is a rundown of our favorites for camping, whether it be tent camping, staying in cabins, and/or RVing. We have included a map with the locations of each place at the bottom of this article.

1) Ricketts Glen State Park: Endless Mountains Region - Tent Friendly, RV Hookups limited 
Ricketts Glen State Park: Tent and RV friendly, though most sites have no hookups, so this campground is more suited for tenters. The campsites are very large, and located in a beautifully wooded spot.

All of the campsites are either located on the lakes or within a short walk of them, which lends this spot to be perfect on clear nights for taking in the stars and for lazy days just tossing in a fishing line and watching the eagles and other raptors that frequent the lakes. Short trails lead to the park's swimming beach area and boat rentals, and awesome hikes on the Falls Trail. The campsites are perfectly shaded and the facilities are very nice.
For more information about visiting Ricketts Glen State Park and camping at it, check out this article, and visit their website at https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/RickettsGlenStatePark/Pages/default.aspx

As a kid, my family took our pop up camper to the nearby Red Rock Mountain Campground which I remember absolutely loving. It is better suited for people with RVs in regards to hook ups. It is located at the bottom of the hill, near the country store and gas station.
For more information on this campground, check out their website at https://redrockmountaincampground.com

2) Hickory Run State Park: Pocono Mountains Region - Tent and RV Friendly
My family camped here with our little tent camper many times, and we have gone and camped here as adults as well with our tent. The RV sites are very nice, but the tent sites are absolutely spectacular. The tent loop is located within a more rugged section of the camping area, with nice and large trees, and within a short walk of the playground and one of the park's small lakes with a beautiful spillway. Autumn is especially breathtaking at the park, with incredible fall foliage color. The facilities are very nice as well. For more information, on visiting, check out this article.

3) Knoebels Amusement Park: Elysburg, PA
Knoebels Amusement Park: Tenters and RVs. As a roller coaster and amusement parks fan, few things get me more excited than hearing a the whoosh of wooden roller coaster train roaring down the track with screaming riders, and the smell of grease and wood from the coaster.
At Knoebels you can camp right next to the park's awesome Twister wooden roller coaster and one of the park's two train rides. With Knoebels being a free admission amusement park, you are free to walk into the park from the campground. The park has two campgrounds, one on property, and the Lake Glory Campground, just a short distance away

For more information, check out our article on visiting Knoebels Amusement Resort here, and check out their website https://www.knoebels.com

4) Lakeside Campground: Ripley, NY, right on the PA/NY state line along Lake Erie
Ripley, NY's Lakeside Campground is located exactly upon the Pennsylvania and New York Border on the shores of Lake Erie. This campground trends towards campers and trailers and seasonal trailer rentals, though they have always been very welcoming of us as tenters. On a fourth of July visit a few years ago, we saw one of the most stunning sunsets we have ever seen while sitting on the campground's Lake Erie beach. It is located within the heart of Lake Erie Wine Country and a short drive from Presque Isle State Park, Waldameer Amusement Park, and everything else the Erie area has to offer.

For more information, check out their website at https://campatlakeside.com

5) Seven Points Campground at Raystown Lake. 
Seven Points Campground at Raystown Lake. Both tent campers and RV campers are well accommodated at this campground. This campground is centrally located within the state and is a place where my family and I have met up in between to camp and explore. The campsites are all quite large and many are directly upon the shores of the largest lake that is fully located within the borders of the Commonwealth. Many people wade into the lake from their campsites, and they moor their kayaks, canoes, boats, and more right at their sites. The great debate for vacations usually comes down to "do we want to go to the beach, or the mountains?" The Raystown Lake Region offers both, and the Seven Points Campground is a fantastic place to go. The campground is located within the Seven Points Recreation Area, which offers walking and biking paths and trails, a mountain biking park (The Allegrippis Trail System), a swimming beach, and much more in addition to the beautiful views. The facilities are very nice. For more information visiting the region, check out this article, and to make reservations, go to their website at https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/233626

6) Promised Land State Park in the Poconos.
Both tent and RV campers are well accommodated at this campground. This is a very relaxing state park to visit, with a great hiking trail system and two nice and medium sized lakes with fishing, boating, and swimming offered. There is a little falls trail that picks up on the entrance road to the campground, which is a really nice and short hike.

For info about reservations, check out their website https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/PromisedLandStatePark/Pages/default.aspx

7) Old Mill Stream Campground at Dutch Wonderland Amusement Park in Lancaster
This place was always a favorite of my family when I was growing up, and my parents still camp there pretty frequently. This campground trends towards RVs and "glamping", but it also offers tent camping sites. The location is everything with this place, for one side of it has Dutch Wonderland and its beautiful Kingdom Coaster wooden roller coaster and the park's monorail, and the back part of the campground is along a creek that has a working dairy farm within view across the creek. It is located on the historic Lincoln Highway within an easy drive of everything that the Lancaster area has to offer.

For more information, check out their website at https://www.dutchwonderland.com/old-mill-stream-campground


8) Blue Rocks Campground near the Appalachian Trail and Hawk Mountain
Blue Rocks Campground near the Appalachian Trail and Hawk Mountain: RV and Tent Camping
I have not visited this campground as an adult, but my memories of camping here when I was young are really nice. It is located on a boulder field and has connector trails that go right to the Appalachian Trail. As far as hiking goes, this is an awesome place to camp. They also have a stocked little pond for fishing, and I recall casting and immediately catching fish. For fishing, this is a great place to go with little kids. The hiking opportunities at this campground are what really makes it stand out. I definitely want to get back to this campground.

For more information, check out their website at https://www.bluerockscampground.com

9) Cook Forest State Park: Clarion, Forest, and Jefferson Counties, PA
RV and Tent Camping: Camping amongst the old growth forests at Cook is incredible. The dark skies in this area are amazing to see as well. It is really amazing looking up into the sky on a clear night here and seeing all of the stars. The facilities are excellent as well.


10) Parker Dam State Park, Clearfield County: Tents, RVs, and Cabins
We have spent the night in the park's lovely CCC era cabins, which are open year round and have indoor fireplaces. The camping sites are superb as well. The state park has so many hiking opportunities, a small lake with a beach, boating, and fishing opportunities, and more. The state park serves as a gateway into seemingly endless public forest land that includes the habitat of the Elk herd. For more information visiting, check out this article

11) Linn Run State Park, Laurel Highlands Region: Just Cabins

The CCC era cabins at Linn Run State Park are awesome and include indoor fireplaces. This state park serves as a gateway into Forbes State Forest. This is one of our favorite go to spots. 

For more information visiting the state park, check out this article.

12) Chapman State Park: In the center of Allegheny National Forest: Tents, RVS, and Cabins
Chapman State Park is basically surrounded by the seemingly endless Allegheny National Forest and serves as a great launching point into the entire national forest and Allegheny Reservoir. We stayed in the park's cabins, which are spartan but very nice. This is a quiet place to get away to, and the campsites are very nice. 

For more information on visiting and exploring the area, check out this article. 

13) Youghiogheny River Lake Outflows Campground: RV and Tent Camping
Located in the southern portion of the Laurel Highlands, almost to the Maryland border, this campground is located near the Youghiogheny River Lake Dam and is operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. The campsites are huge and there is excellent access to the Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail. Whether you are passing through and looking for a place to rest, or a place to spend the night while you are biking the 140 miles of the trail, or you are just looking for a place to camp that is in the Ohiopyle area, but away from the hustle and bustle, this is an awesome place to go. 

For more information on visiting, check out this article. 
14) Hemlock Campground in Tobyhanna, Pocono Mountains Region: RV and Tent Camping.
I have not been to this campground in more than twenty years, but we used to really enjoy it. It is located right in the Poconos and is a great place to take the family.

For more information on visiting, check out their website at http://hemlockcampground.com

15) Laurel Hill State Park in the Laurel Highlands: RV and Tent Camping, along with Cabins. Laurel Hill State Park is centrally situated in the Laurel Highlands and offers great access to the park's lake, which is complete with a beach and boat rental concessions. The hiking trail system is very nice as well. Laurel Hill Creek is large and an excellent trout fishery as well. The campsites are very spacious and the facilities are excellent.

For more information on visiting, check out their website at https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/LaurelHillStatePark/Pages/default.aspx
16) Raccoon Creek State Park: RV and Tent Camping. If you are looking for a quick place to get away to for camping in the Pittsburgh area, Raccoon Creek State Park is a great place to go. Frankfort Mineral Springs is my favorite thing to check out at the state park, but this sprawling place also offers a great little lake, a nice hiking trail system, and a Wildflower Preserve.

For more information, check out their website at https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/RaccoonCreekStatePark/Pages/default.aspx

Most state parks that we mention on our page have a campground within them and there are a bunch that we have visited, but would love to camp at, especially Worlds End State Park, and the PA Grand Canyon, but have not ended up camping at yet. The cabins and cottages at the PA State Park Campgrounds are also quite lovely and well worth checking out. Overall, when it comes to outdoor adventure, this state has so much to offer.

The following map has all of the locations of the campgrounds that we mentioned in this article.

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