Find A Park
It's a big state with a lot of choices. Find one of the 121 state parks and conservation areas by narrowing the list by one of the choices below, or use the map to the right.
Pennsylvania actually has 118 must-see state parks and three conservation areas, but the 25 listed here are some of the best examples of the Commonwealth's significant natural and historic resources. From the unique habitats and scenic beauty of Presque Isle to the historic Delaware Canal, these treasures are our heritage and help make Pennsylvania special.
If you can't make it to all 121 parks, make sure you see these 25 parks.
Zoom in on the map using the zoom tool on the left. Clicking on a park in the map will reveal an information box with a listing of amenities in the park and a link to the park homepage.
Another way to view the 25 Must-see parks is in the 25 Must-see Parks Story Map.
Largest reconstituted bog/wetland complex in Pennsylvania, unique plants, state park natural area
Perched on the top of the Allegheny Plateau, Black Moshannon State Park features the Black Moshannon Bog Natural Area, a state park natural area. Trails and a boardwalk help people explore the birds and plants of the bog and surrounding forests. Stay overnight to extend your stay so you can explore the beautiful forests on the hiking trails.
Wetlands adjacent to the southwest arm of the lake comprise the finest reconstituted bog in Pennsylvania. It has many rare plants associated with sphagnum bogs.
"Black Moshannon State Park offers many educational and recreational activities in a relaxing and rustic setting. The tranquility found in many places on the water and on its miles of trails lets you discover nature at its finest." - Steve Gleason and Family
Darkest night skies on the east coast
The park is nearly as remote and wild today as it was two centuries ago. Cherry Springs has some of the darkest skies on the east coast and is the second Dark Sky Park. Amateur and professional astonomers flock to the park for it's 360 view virtually free of light pollution. Cherry Springs offers camping and picnicking. A yearly Woodsman's Show is the highlight of the summer.
Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, national natural landmark, state park natural area
Colton Point offers spectacular vistas and fabulous views from the west rim of Pine Creek Gorge, also known as Pennsylvania's Grand Canyon, a National Natural Landmark and a state park natural area. The hiking trails traverse very rugged terrain, passing close to many steep cliffs affording an abundance of unique sights including a waterfall. Civilian Conservation Corps constructed pavilions that are on the National Register of Historic Places add to the park’s rustic charm.
Large stands of old growth timber, national natural landmark, state park natural area
Cook Forest's stand of old growth white pine and hemlock timber, called the Forest Cathedral, is a National Natural Landmark and a state park natural area. This is one of the largest stands of old growth timber in the Commonwealth. Many of the white pine, eastern hemlock and other trees are over 300 years old. One of the best ways to see and enjoy the priceless beauty of Cook Forest is to hike the extensive trail network.
"To me the most important thing about Cook Forest is that it is Mother Nature's Garden. Here on the long and very lovely trails one finds the majestic pines, oaks, beech, hemlocks and maples with the most beautiful tree, the black cherry. All around you the views of nature give the full glory of what Mother Nature does with her gardens." - Richard Chamberlin
Longest remnant of a towpath canal, national historic landmark, national heritage hiking trail
A walk along the 60-mile long towpath of Delaware Canal State Park is a stroll into American history. Paralleling the Delaware River between Easton and Bristol, this diverse park contains an historic canal and towpath and many miles of river shoreline. Nockamixon cliffs and River Islands are state park natural areas. From riverside to farm fields to historic towns, visitors to Delaware Canal State Park will enjoy the ever-changing scenery along its corridor.
The 60-mile long Delaware Canal is the only remaining continuously intact canal of the great towpath canal building era of the early and mid-19th century. The canal remains today with almost all of its features as they existed during its century of commercial operation. The canal is a National Historic Landmark, and its towpath is a National Heritage Hiking Trail.
Two lakes, two National Register of Historic Places, state park natural area, many recreational opportunities
French Creek is a forest oasis in the southeast corner of the commonwealth. The deep forests, lakes, and wetlands are destinations for wildlife and people. The park is an Important Bird and Mammal Area according the National Audubon Society, and has Pine Swamp, a state park natural area. People enjoy camping, boating, swimming, mountain biking, and many other recreational opportunities in the 7,730-acre park. In addition to two National Register of Historic Places, the park surrounds the National Park Service’s Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site.
Large collection of historic ironmaking community buildings
A walk through historic Greenwood Furnace creates images of the community that flourished here from 1834 to 1904. Greenwood Furnace was a busy industrial complex, with all the noise and dirt of a 19th century ironmaking community. The Greenwood Furnace National Historic District features many buildings from the town. A costumed interpretor helps bring past residents to life.
Nestled in the mountains of northeastern Huntingdon County, historic Greenwood Furnace State Park offers a unique recreational experience. The park is on the western edge of an area of Central Pennsylvania known as the Seven Mountains. It is an area of rugged beauty, abundant wildlife, breathtaking vistas and peaceful solitude.
"Greenwood Furnace State Park offers a quiet, serene setting for nature lovers who also appreciate the historical value of the region. Many original buildings, ore wagons, tools and furnace stack are features of the iron-making era that still exists today. . .The campground and park are exceptionally well maintained." - Donna and Bill Miller
Boulder Field, glacier end moraine, national natural landmark, three state park natural areas
Hickory Run is a favorite of those who enjoy scenic areas. The Boulder Field, a striking boulder-strewn area impressive due to its flatness and large size, is a National Natural Landmark and a state park natural area. This large park has over 40 miles of hiking trails, three state park natural areas and miles of trout streams. While at the park, learn about lumbering history, observe wildlife or see Hawk Falls.
A truly spectacular scenic view
Hyner View State Park features a scenic vista overlooking the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and is a favorite spot for hang gliding. This is one of the nicest scenic vistas in Pennsylvania state parks. You can see for miles upstream and downstream over the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and surrounding mountains.
"Hyner View is the best scenic vista in PA State Parks, and maybe the whole state." - Caw Miller
Jennings Environmental Education Center has a relict prairie, which includes the spectacular and well-known prairie flower, the blazing star. The relict prairie ecosystem is rare in Pennsylvania. Visitors should try to visit in late July or early August when the prairie is in full bloom.
Remnants of huge bridge, national engineering landmark
The Kinzua Viaduct is a National Engineering Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. When this viaduct was built in 1881, it was the world's highest and longest railroad bridge at 301 feet tall and 2,053 feet long. An excursion train travels through the Allegheny National Forest and to the bridge. The scenery is awesome during fall foliage. In 2003, a tornado knocked down much of Kinzua Viaduct.
"I grew up in this area, and visited this bridge way before it was designated as a PA Park. My grandparents owned a farm down the road, and my brother and I used to ride our bikes down to the bridge and that was before any restoration was done and it was a little scary then to cross it. I remember the airplane crash that happened in the 1960s and they went across the bridge for the rescue and recovery of the victims. This park holds a very special place in my heart and as my children were growing up, we made sure they too had their memories of this bridge and who would dare to cross it.
"My heart was broken when the tornado hit and took a large part of the bridge down, it was a silent moment for me to see it, and the surrounding area devastated by the destructive nature of the tornado. I'll still visit this park, whenever we're in the area, because it's part of me, it brings back old memories and I'll watch the regrowth of the beauty surrounding this bridge." - Linda L. Exley
Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, national natural landmark, state park natural area
Leonard Harrison offers spectacular vistas and fabulous views from the east rim of Pine Creek Gorge, also known as Pennsylvania's Grand Canyon, a National Natural Landmark and a state park natural area. The hiking trails traverse very rugged terrain, passing close to many steep cliffs, affording an abundance of unique sights including two waterfalls. A visitor center has exhibits on the formation of the gorge.
Scenic gorge, national natural landmark, state park natural area
McConnells Mill is a scenic gorge carved by the rapid outflow of several glacial lakes. Part of the park is a National Natural Landmark and a state park natural area, characterized by a steep gorge with numerous rock outcroppings and boulders. Northern hardwood-conifer forests contain areas of old growth forests and rare plants. You can tour the restored rolling gristmill or the covered bridge. There is also scenic hiking, whitewater boating and two rock climbing and rappelling areas.
"The centerpiece of McConnells Mill State Park is the 19th century grist mill. Our guided tours open the history of the calssic mill to visitors. Accustomed to the high-tech world, many are intrigued to learn how we harnass the power of Slippery Rock Creek to grind corn meal when we demonstrate the stone grinder. As a volunteer, I enjoy leading tours of this historic mill as well as assisting local and even international visitors to enjoy our beautiful 400 ft. gorge, a sight worth the trip alone." - Polly Shaw
large lake, many recreational opportunities, state park natural area, wildlife watching
The lush forests and sparkling lake of Moraine are magnets for attracting wildlife and people. The 3,225-acre lake has boating, sailing, fishing, and swimming and is the center of this 16,725-acre park that also has 28 miles of trails, mountain biking, equestrian trails, cabins, and great winter recreational opportunities. The North Country National Scenic Trail passes through Moraine. Wildlife like osprey, bald eagles, and waterfowl flock to the lake and can be seen at the observation deck. The current manmade lake is a small version of a glacial lake that once covered the area and is part of the park’s interesting geologic history.
Waterfalls, waterslides, scenic gorge, national natural landmark, state park natural area
An exhilarating park to see and experience, the focal point of this area is the more than 14 miles of the Youghiogheny River Gorge that churns though the heart of Ohiopyle. The famous Lower Yough, below the scenic Ohiopyle Falls, provides some of the best whitewater boating in the Eastern U. S. Other points of interest include Cucumber Falls and the Cucumber Run Ravine which is blanketed with wildflowers and blooming rhododendron. Hiking and biking along the 28-mile Youghiogheny River Trail also provides awesome views of the river and cascading feeder streams. The Ferncliff Peninsula is a National Natural Landmark and a state park natural area. The peninsula is formed by a bend in the Youghiogheny River and contains abundant wildflowers, old growth hemlocks, mixed oak forests and plant species of concern.
"When you drive down into the gorge, you know you're entering something special. The constant sound of the river and the falls reverberates through you as you explore the valley. We first came here to whitewaer raft, but now we love hiking on the gorgeous trails and listening to the thundering waterfall." - Debbie Lee
Site of the beginning of the world oil boom, birthplace of the oil industry
The site of the world's first commercial oil well, Oil Creek State Park tells the story of the early petroleum industry by interpreting oil boom towns, oil wells and early transportation. The park has scenic deep hollows, steep hills, wetlands and a beautiful meandering creek. Sites like these can be seen while traveling the 9.5-mile paved bicycle trail through the scenic Oil Creek Gorge, or on an excursion train.
Large collection of historic ironmaking community buildings, Appalachian Trail halfway point, Appalachian Trail Museum
Once the site of a charcoal-fired iron furnace that manufactured iron products beginning in 1764, Pine Grove Furnace State Park has many historic buildings, including the Paymasters House, Ironmaster’s Mansion, furnace stack and company store. The historic district is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Pine Grove Furnace is the halfway point of the Appalachian Trail and the traditional place to eat a half gallon of ice cream to celebrate. The Appalachian Trail Museum is a recent addition to the park. Two lakes, a campground and other recreational opportunities round out Pine Grove Furnace as a destination.
National Historic Landmark, hiking-biking-boating trail intersection
A National Historic Landmark, this park is a jewel in the city of Pittsburgh, featured prominently in scenic views of the city. At the confluence of the Ohio and Monongahela rivers, the park land is the site of four historic forts dating back to the French and Indian War and contains monuments, plaques, and markers that commemorate events and people of historic importance at the Forks of the Ohio. Hiking and biking trails intersect at Point, including the Great Allegheny Passage, the Three Rivers Historic Trail and the Three Rivers Water Trail.
Surf beach, unique habitats, national natural landmark, state park natural area
Presque Isle is a recurving sand spit jutting into Lake Erie with the only surf beach in Pennsylvania. Its geological and biological diversity and its historic significance will spark your interest. The location of the park on Lake Erie makes it a favorite spot for bird migration. Presque Isle is a National Natural Lankdmark and a state park natural area. Visitors who stay into the evening hours can experience amazing sunsets.
"We have traveled to a lot of beaches, but this is by far the best." - D. Schreiner
Two lakes, two National Register of Historic Places, many campsites, great wildlife watching
This cornerstone of Pennsylvania State Parks opened in 1905. Promised Land has two lakes, camping, cabins, miles of hiking trails and many other recreational opportunities. A seasonal museum has exhibits on the wildlife of the park and the Civilian Conservation Corps. The rustic cabins and the lodge are on the National Register of Historic Places. Nesting bald eagles are a highlight of the abundant wildlife watching opportunities of this Pocono Plateau park.
Large lake, migrating waterfowl, two state park natural areas
Pymatuning is one of the largest state parks in the Commonwealth. The large lake provides excellent fishing throughout the year. Pymatuning Lake is especially lovely in late spring evenings when the sunset gilds the water and colorful sailboats appear to slide across a lake of gold. You might also want to stop by the spillway where the Ducks Walk on the Fishes Backs, or visit the nearby Fish and Boat Commission and Game Commission visitor centers to view the striking wildlife exhibits. The lake and wetlands are a major migration stop for waterfowl. Blackjack Swamp and Clark Island are state park natural areas.
"People from Pennsylvania and Ohio don't realize what they have in their own back yard. All the beauty and attractions of a Canadian lake or the Great Lakes is right here." - Ken Lapinski
Large park, wildflower reserve, deep forests
The Raccoon Creek Wildflower Reserve is a botanical wonderland. This park is one of the largest and most beautiful parks in the Commonwealth. A centrally located 100-acre lake provides opportunities for outdoor recreation like fishing, boating, and photographing and viewing waterfowl and other wildlife.
"When so many other parks have become nothing more than amusement parks, Raccoon Creek State Park and its Wildflower Reserve has managed to maintain its original purpose. It's a shining gem, preserving the natural landscape and wildlife for generations to come." - Donna Hospodar
22 named waterfalls, old growth timber, national natural landmark, state park natural area
Ricketts Glen harbors Glens Natural Area, a National Natural Landmark and a state park natural area. Hike the Falls Trail and explore the Glens which boasts a series of wild, free-flowing waterfalls, each cascading through rock-strewn clefts in this ancient hillside. The 94-foot Ganoga Falls is the highest of 22 named waterfalls. Old growth timber and diverse wildlife add to the scenic area.
"We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Ricketts Glen state park this past weekend. The park, waterfalls, and trails were lush, clean and beautiful. Each waterfall was unique and worth seeing and the trail guide was very helpful. And when they say the trails around the waterfalls are difficult - believe it!! All in all, a great deal of fun, a hard workout but totally worth the trip." -Judy and Chris Schanbacher
Balanced Rock, waterfalls, scenic gorge
Great Trough Creek carves this scenic gorge through Terrace Mountain, then empties into Raystown Lake. The Civilian Conservation Corps built incredible hiking trails along the steep gorge, by waterfalls and to overlooks. Balanced Rock is a geologic wonder.
"Trough Creek with its geology and creek provides plenty of scenic beauty. I enjoy walking the trails during late June when the rhododendrons are in bloom and again in the fall when the trees have colored. My favorite trail is the trail to Balanced Rock and past Rainbow Falls." - Jennifer Miller
Scenic overlook, rugged terrain
Virtually in a class by itself, this wild, rugged and rustic area seems almost untamed. Camping, cabins and hiking on the Loyalsock Trail attract many visitors to Worlds End State Park. The scenery is spectacular, especially the blooming mountain laurel in June and fall foliage. Canyon Vista, reached by Mineral Spring and Cold Run roads, provides outstanding views.
"What we like most about Worlds End cannot be put into just one short phrase. The scenery is great, the Loyalsock Creek that runs through the park allows you to feel the freshness of clean water while swimming on our well kept beach, the comfort and uniqueness of the cabins, the friendliness of the professional staff which keeps the park in the finest of conditions, the camping area which allows you to get back to nature, and the many trails that can be hiked for all ages. The park also has a year round activity for those who like winter activities." - Janet and Ned Lowe