Promised Land State Park
About 3,000 acres in size, Promised Land State Park is on the Pocono Plateau, 1,800 feet above sea level, and is surrounded by 12,464 acres of Pennsylvania’s Delaware State Forest, including natural areas. Visitors enjoy fishing and boating in two lakes, rustic cabins, camping, miles of hiking trails and exploring the forests.
The forests of the park consist primarily of beech, oak, maple and hemlock trees. Two lakes and several small streams add to the park’s outstanding scenic beauty.
Hiking - Biking - Mountain Biking - Horseback Riding - Picnicking - Swimming - Boating - Fishing - Hunting - Education - Orienteering - Cross-country Skiing - Snowmobiling - Ice Fishing - Ice Skating - Cabins - Camping
Picnicking: The Day Use Picnic Area is next to Promised Land Lake, in a scenic woodland setting. The picnic area has parking, a playground, water, trash containers, a sand volleyball court, a basketball hoop and restrooms. The main beach, boat rental and refreshment stand are all within a short walk.
Two picnic pavilions may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. Unreserved picnic pavilions are free on a first-come, first-served basis.
Prior to arrival, buses must get a permit from the park office to utilize the picnic area. Buses must park in the overflow parking lot.
Swimming: Two sand beaches are open daily from late-May to mid-September, 8 a.m. to sunset. The main beach is in the Day Use Picnic Area. The Pickerel Point Beach is on the end of Pickerel Point. Swim at your own risk. Please read and follow posted rules for swimming. There are no lifeguards.
All children 10 years of age or younger must be accompanied by a person at least 14 years of age. All groups at the beach must meet the state park adult-to-child ratio requirements for supervision.
Refreshment Stand: Located in the Day Use Picnic Area, near the main beach, the stand offers food and beverages. It is open each season from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The Concession is open from the Saturday immediately preceding Memorial Day through Labor Day from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily. 570-676-0311
Boating: electric motors only
Motorboats must display a current boat registration. Non-powered boats must display one of the following: boat registration; launching permit or mooring permit from Pennsylvania State Parks, available at most state park offices; launching permit from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply. Complete information on boating rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.
Boat Rental: Located off of PA 390, south of the Day Use Area, the boat concession offers rentals by the hour, day, overnight or week. Types of boats include rowboats, canoes, one and two-person kayaks and paddleboats. Electric motors are available for rent. Boats are also available at Pickerel Point and Lower Lake, and can be rented through the boat concession at the beach. The Boat Concession operates daily from the Saturday immediately preceding Memorial Day through Labor Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. The Concession also operates the two weekends before Memorial Day and the two weekends after Labor Day. 570-676-4117
Fishing: Promised Land Lake and Lower Lake offer great opportunities for year-round fishing. Common fish species are largemouth and smallmouth bass, pickerel, muskellunge, yellow perch, sunfish and catfish.
Lower Lake is an approved trout waters and is stocked with brook, brown and rainbow trout. A trout stamp is required to fish in these waters. Fishing is not permitted prior to the start of the trout season.
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply. Complete information on fishing rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.
Hunting: About 1,528 acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, bear and turkey. Adjacent forestry land has additional areas open to hunting.
Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations apply. Contact the park office for ADA accessible hunting information.
Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park during hunting seasons. Firearms and archery equipment used for hunting may be uncased and ready for use only in authorized hunting areas during hunting seasons. In areas not open to hunting or during non-hunting seasons, firearms and archery equipment shall be kept in the owner's car, trailer or leased campsite. Exceptions include: law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms are authorized to carry a firearm concealed on their person while they are within a state park.
Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.
Hiking: 50 miles of trails
The trails lead through areas rich in historic and scenic interest. This is especially true from mid-May until mid-June when the native mountain laurel and rhododendron are in bloom. Lowbush and highbush blueberries usually ripen in late July. Fall foliage usually peaks in early October.
Motorized vehicles are prohibited on all hiking trails; except snowmobiles, which are allowed only on designated snowmobile trails. Pets are permitted on trails, but must be on a leash of 6’ or less at all times. Before hiking, let someone know where you are going and when you will return. Take a map, stay on established trails and plan to return before dusk. Wear proper attire and footwear when hiking. Be aware of hunting seasons and hunting areas within the park and wear fluorescent orange clothing during hunting seasons.
Trail Signing System: Designated recreational trails are all marked with vertical blue blazes. At each trail intersection, a sign designates the trail name, intersection number, trail uses, emergency route, distances, directions and other pertinent information. Permitted trail usage is designated by international symbols. Any other markings are NOT relevant to this trail system. Additional trail information and descriptions are available at the park office.
Biking: 6.5 miles of roads
Mountain Biking: Mountain biking is permitted on designated trails only within Delaware State Forest.
Horseback Riding: Promised Land State Park provides access to selected equestrian trails in Delaware State Forest. Horseback riding is allowed on park roads and in designated trails in Promised Land State Park. Rentals are not available. Check with the park office for equestrian camping options.
Orienteering: Beginner and intermediate orienteering courses are located at the Rock Oak Ridge Trailhead, near the Pines Campground. Orienteering course brochures can be obtained at the park office. Loaner compasses can be borrowed at the park office and the Masker Museum.
Geocaching: Two GPS multicaches have also been placed. They tell the tale of CCC history in the park. One is a walking multicache and the other is a driving tour that starts at the museum. Brochures can be obtained at the park office and the museum. The coordinates can also be found at www.geocaching.com.
Camping: flush toilets, warm showers, electric hook-ups
The maximum stay in all camping areas is 14 days during the summer season and 21 days during the off-season. Campers must vacate the park for 48 hours before setting up again. Campers are allowed one vehicle per site. Extra car passes may be purchased for a fee. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited. Campground facilities are ONLY open to those staying at that campground.
Explore camping for more information.
Lower Lake Campground is located on the western edge of Lower Lake. This modern campground includes Beechwood, Northwoods and Rhododendron areas. There is a dump station at the entrance of Lower Lake Campground.
Beechwood is open from early April through mid-October. Modern facilities are available Memorial Day through Columbus Day. Best suited to RVs, this modern campground offers warm showers, flush toilets, electricity and laundry facilities. The campground offers 106 campsites, some of which allow pets.
Northwoods has 48 sites and is open early May through mid-October. It offers warm showers, flush toilets, electricity and laundry facilities. Pets are allowed in this campground on designated sites.
Rhododendron is located near Lower Lake and contains 63 campsites that are open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Please contact the park office for specific dates. It offers warm showers, flush toilets and electricity on some sites. The area is not open to pets.
Pickerel Point Campground is on a peninsula on the southern side of Promised Land Lake. The area has 75 campsites and three camping cottages. Limited sites and the camping cottages are open year-round. An unguarded swimming area is at the end of the peninsula. The campground offers rustic walk-in sites, electric sites and full hook up sites with sewer, water and electric on site. An ADA accessible campsite is available. The entire area has two shower houses with laundry facilities and one restroom. Designated sites are open to pets.
Camping cottages have electric heat, bunk beds, a table and benches, a grill and a fire ring. Linens are not provided. The cottages are next to a shower house in Pickerel Point Campground.
Tucked into the trees and rocks, Deerfield Campground is just south of Promised Land Lake and is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. This rustic area contains 34 campsites with flush toilets and no electricity. Use of Pickerel Point Campground showers is included in the campsite fee. Pets are allowed on all sites. An ADA accessible campsite is available.
The Pines Campground is at the northwestern end of Promised Land Lake and is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day Weekend. It offers 58 rustic campsites without electricity. The restrooms have flush toilets. Pay showers are available in the picnic area. A paved trail leads to the picnic area and main beach. ADA accessible campsites are available.
Free Camping for Campground Hosts: 6 host positions
Rustic Cabins: Nestled within evergreens and adjacent to Lower Lake, the Bear Wallow Cabin Colony has 12 rustic rental cabins that were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. These rustic cabins each have a fireplace insert, refrigerator, stove, electricity, outdoor fire ring and adjacent private bathroom. Linens are not provided. Cabins 11 and 12 permit dogs. Pets are prohibited in cabins 1-10. Cabin 9 is ADA accessible.
Scattered around Promised Land State Park are 224 privately owned cabins on leased state park land. Please respect the property rights of these cabin owners.
Explore cabins for more information.
Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.
Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing: Skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all trails. Bruce Lake Natural Area and Conservation Island have the best trails for skiing and snowshoeing. During the winter season, snowshoes are available for loan from the park office with a photo ID, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday. Six inches or more of snow is required in order to borrow snowshoes.
Snowmobiling: Registered snowmobiles may be used on more than 23 miles of groomed, designated trails. The trails, which are on both state park and state forest lands, are open daily after the end of deer season in late December; weather permitting. Snowmobile maps are available at the park office and at the Delaware State Forest office. Snowmobile trails are marked with orange diamonds.
Ice Fishing: Conditions permitting, ice fishing is popular on both lakes. Bass, pickerel and panfish can be caught in both lakes. Lower Lake is a designated trout waters.
Ice Skating: Conditions permitting, ice skating occurs on Promised Land Lake. Contact the park office for information. Please confirm ice thickness before skating.
Ice thickness is not monitored. For your safety, be sure the ice is four inches thick and carry safety equipment.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
Environmental Education programming is offered from April through October at both Promised Land State Park and Varden Conservation Area. From Memorial Day though Labor Day, interpretive and recreational programming is offered on Fridays and Saturdays. From late June through early September, the park offers a weekly nature arts and crafts program for children of all ages that is organized by Conservation Volunteers. The park also offers a family fishing program which builds fishing skills and includes loaner poles, bait and tackle. Loaner poles can also be borrowed at the park office and the museum.
Spring through fall, school and group programs can be scheduled. These programs cover a wide variety of standards-based topics and levels. Please contact the park office to book a school or group program. Teacher workshops are also typically offered in spring and fall each year.
Look for the current program schedule on park bulletin boards, pick up a schedule at the park office or explore the Calendar of Events for a listing of events from today forward.
Explore environmental education and interpretation for more information.
The Masker Museum
The Masker Museum at Promised Land State Park is one of the largest Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) museums in the Commonwealth and features interactive stories, displays and artifacts that tell the story of the (CCC) in Promised Land.
A section of the Masker Museum has natural history displays, including mounted animals (even a large black bear), interactive displays of natural features found in the area, children’s books, field guides, and a bird observation area. The museum also has a native plant garden and bird feeding stations.
The museum is located off of Pickerel Point Road by the amphitheater and Pickerel Point Campground. Admission to the museum is free. The Masker Museum is ADA accessible.
The museum is usually open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The museum is open seven days a week from early July through Labor Day. Please check with the park office to confirm hours.
The Masker Museum is completely volunteer staffed. For information on becoming a museum docent, please contact the park office.
Access for People with Disabilities
If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.
Promised Land State Park is located within the Pocono Plateau; a rugged highland with rocky soil, nutrient-poor bogs, dark evergreen forests and a diversity of wildlife and plants.
About 20,000 years ago, a giant sheet of ice about 1 mile thick covered Promised Land. The park’s rocky soil is comprised of glacial till, providing direct evidence of the glacier. Much of the park is characterized by sphagnum moss bogs, evergreen trees and thin, rocky soil. Blackburnian warblers, red-breasted nuthatches and timber rattlesnakes are common to this habitat. In the spring, spotted and Jefferson salamanders and wood frogs flock to the bogs and seasonal pools to breed.
Due to logging of the forests in the early 1900s, large portions of the forest have re-grown with a mix of deciduous trees such as beech, oak and maple. American redstarts, red-eyed vireos and Blackburnian warblers (below) are common migratory songbirds that visit these forests. The National Audubon Society has designated Promised Land State Park as an Important Bird Area.
In early May, before any trees leaf out, serviceberry trees flower with a beautiful display of white. In mid- to late-May, the plentiful mountain laurel blooms, followed in mid-June by the rhododendron. In mid- to late-July, the lowbush and highbush blueberries bear fruit, providing a feast for bears, birds and people.
Black bear are common in the park. This omnivore eats plants, grasses, berries and occasionally meat. Unfortunately, bears find human food to be nearly irresistible. Please observe wildlife from a safe distance and do not feed wildlife.
A wildlife observation station is located on Lower Lake by the Bear Wallow Boat Launch. Approach the area quietly for the best chance to see waterfowl and other animals.
Plants and animals are protected at the park. Take only pictures and leave only footprints when you leave Promised Land. It is illegal to remove natural items such as flowers, feathers and pine cones from Pennsylvania State Park and State Forest land.
Feeding Canada geese and other waterfowl at the swimming areas results in large quantities of fecal droppings, which is offensive to park visitors and a potential health hazard. It is also against Pennsylvania State Park regulations.
A pair of bald eagles began visiting the park in 1995. However, it wasn’t until 1999 when they reached sexual maturity that they built their first nest along Lower Lake in a large white pine tree. The first pair of eggs were laid and fledged in 2000. The nest continued to be successful until October 2008, the combined weight of the nest and a heavy snowstorm caused both the tree and the nest to fall to the ground. Luckily, the eagles were not in the park at the time. In early spring of 2009, the pair built a new nest in a maple tree directly across from the Wildlife Observation Station, but no young were hatched. Since 2010, the eagles have fledged at least one eaglet per year.
Before leaf-out in May, the nest can be seen with the naked eye, although binoculars or a spotting scope offer a better view. There are few sights more thrilling than a bald eagle at its nest or in action along a shoreline. Responsibilities come with this enjoyment. You must ensure your presence and behavior do not have a detrimental effect on the eagles or their future use of the area. Eagle nests and young eagles are easily disturbed. Premature fledging can inadvertently cause injury or death of an eaglet that cannot yet fly or defend itself. In the cold winter, energy is a very valuable commodity for eagles. Flushing eagles from a roost site or a feeding ground causes unnecessary stress and may expose the eagle to additional predators. Please keep your distance from eagle nests and roosts. Respect their space. Enjoy their presence at a distance with good optics. Federal and state laws prohibit human activity, including camping, fishing, boating, hiking, etc., within 330 feet of a nest. Do not cross the buoy boundary in Lower Lake or disturb the nest on land.
During the nesting season, volunteers monitor the nest weekly from the observation station. Volunteers are always needed. Contact the park office for more information.
Typical Eagle Nesting Season at Promised Land State Park:
The Bear Truths
Many Pennsylvania state parks have healthy forests. These forests are perfect habitat for black bears. Although they appear cute and cuddly, black bears are wild animals.
A black bear can scramble up a tree like a raccoon and sprint as fast as a race horse, up to 35 mph. Bears use their claws to tear apart rotting logs to find food, and those claws also work well to open trash cans and coolers. The size and strength of a black bear are astonishing. Pennsylvania has the largest black bears in the United States with the majority concentrated in the Poconos. Black bears in Pike County can grow to weigh over 800 pounds.
Black bears have poor eyesight and fair hearing, but they have an excellent sense of smell. Aromatic scents coming from your food, citronella candles and toiletries can attract a curious and hungry bear from a great distance.
Keep a clean campsite. Clean up quickly after meals and store all food and scented items inside a locked vehicle. This practice will not only prevent bears from visiting your campsite, but it will discourage raccoons, skunks and opossums from late night visits. The poles provided at each site are meant to be used for lanterns. Do not hang garbage from the hooks. Feeding bears is illegal.
Black bears normally avoid people, but bears dependent on eating human food can become aggressive when people get between them and food.
If you come in contact with a black bear, do not run. Walk slowly away while facing the bear. Do not make direct eye contact with the bear. If the bear is not leaving the area, make loud noises, blow a whistle, honk a car horn or bang a pot. Notify a park employee if you have difficulties with bears.
Never approach a bear and be especially wary of mother bears and cubs.
For detailed information on the geology of Promised Land, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey created the brochure Trail of Geology 18 Park Guide, Promised Land State Park.
The land that became Promised Land State Park was once hunting grounds for the Minsi Tribe of the Wolf Clan of the Lenni Lenape American Indians (Delaware).
The Shakers, a religious group, purchased land in the area. They tried to farm and build a life on the rocky land. Their attempt to build a partnership to log the land was unsuccessful. After finally contracting the forests to be timbered, the Shakers left the area. According to legend, the Shakers sarcastically named the area “the Promised Land.”
The Shakers and other early settlers of the area erected sawmills to process the large stands of conifer and hardwood trees. The land was repeatedly clear-cut. By 1903, the area was almost completely bare of trees. With the loss of trees came erosion, forest fires and migration of wildlife from the area.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased the land from 1902-1904. The purchase price ranged from $0.18 to $2.00 per acre. In 1905, Promised Land became the fourth Pennsylvania state park. Between 1902 and 1933, the Commonwealth planted over 370,000 trees. In 1905, the first campground was established in the pine plantation between Bear Wallow Road and the stream flowing into Lower Lake; however, it closed in 1925 and a new one was built in what is now the main beach picnic area. In 1911, the original (1890) earthen crib dam on Promised Land Lake was re-built for $1000.
In 1933, to relieve the rampant unemployment of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The young men in the CCC received food, clothes and a small paycheck, in return for building roads, trails, recreational facilities, fighting fires, planting trees, and performing many other conservation activities. CCC camps were built throughout the United States, with Pennsylvania’s 151 camps coming in second only to California.
Promised Land’s Camp S-139-PA opened in May 1933 and closed in July 1941. It was located in what is now Deerfield and Pickerel Point Campgrounds. The hard working young men transformed the land in and around Promised Land State Park. CCC boys built Pickerel Point Campground, the Bear Wallow Cabins, most of North Shore Road by hand, Egypt Meadow Dam, planted over one million trees, fought forest fires and much more. Each August the park celebrates this legacy with a CCC festival.
For more information on the CCC, explore The CCC Years.
On Sunday evening, May 31, 1998, an F-2 tornado with winds of 113 -157 mph passed through Promised Land State Park. It cut a northeasterly path through the park and crossed Lower Lake Road, PA 390 and North Shore Road near Sucker Brook. Over 500 people were trapped overnight in the park, but no one was seriously hurt. The park office has copies of “After the Wind Died Down,” a booklet about the tornado and its aftermath.
CCC Boys Talk About their Time in the Civilian Conservation Corps
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Scouts and organized groups can earn free camping by completing service projects.
Join a Friends Group
The non-profit Friends of Delaware State Forest and Promised Land State Park aims to include visitors in conserving, protecting, and enhancing the natural, educational, and recreational resources of the park. The Friends conduct activities and projects, as well as host opportunities to volunteering. Any money that donated to the FOYC benefits the park and forest directly. As an affiliate chapter of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forestry Foundation, contributions are deductible under the fullest extent of the law. Website
Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation
Believing that each generation is responsible for leaving behind a better legacy of good conservation, the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation (PPFF) was created in 1999 to give supporters and users of Pennsylvania's parks and forests a positive way to contribute to the conservation of our publicly-owned properties. The Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation welcomes the support of individuals and businesses who share a commitment to conserving, protecting, and enhancing the natural, scenic, and recreational areas of this commonwealth. www.paparksandforests.org
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We love when young people ask us how to get involved!
DiscoverE has programs for young people ages 4 to 17, provided by Pennsylvania State Park educators. By combining recreation and education, we hope to motivate children to learn more and return often, leading to a lifetime of outdoor enjoyment and conservation leadership.
In Watershed Education, teachers and students assess water quality of a local stream on a quarterly basis and develop strategies to solve local water quality problems.
ECO Camp - Exploring Careers Outdoors - is a week-long residential camp for a cross-section of high school youth from across Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). Participate in action-packed, hands on activities and recreational adventures in Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests that expose youth to conservation, recreation and careers in natural resources. Learn how people make a living working in the outdoors.
Explore education for more information on these and other programs.
Explore the Calendar of Events to find a program near you.
Do you take conservation personally? iConservePA is a Web site managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources whose vision is to inspire citizens to value their natural resources, engage in conservation practices and experience the outdoors. Take conservation personally.
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Pennsylvania State Parks and the Department of Conservation and Natrual Resources offer a wide range of civil service and non-civil service jobs, from foresters, to rangers, to engineers, to educators, to botanists and so much more. Learn what is currently available.
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Promised Land State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from the Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau. www.800poconos.com
Varden Conservation Area: Promised Land State Park serves as the headquarters for Varden Conservation Area. The conservation area is about 25 miles northwest of Promised Land in Wayne County on PA 296, between Waymart and Hamlin, Pennsylvania.
The 420-acre conservation area was a donation from veterinarian Dr. Mead Shaffer. There are over 3 miles of trails that navigate through old farm fields, forests, tree plantations and nearby wetlands.
Pennsylvania's Delaware State Forest: Promised Land State Park is surrounded by 12,464 acres of Delaware State Forest. It includes two natural areas and numerous recreational opportunities such as, hiking, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Camping is prohibited in the state forest area surrounding the park. 570-895-4000
Bruce Lake Natural Area: The 2,845-acre natural area contains two lakes, wetlands and unique plants. Bruce Lake is a natural glacier lake.
Pine Lake Natural Area: This small natural area has a ten-acre glacial bog.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area: Comprising 70,000 acres of the Delaware River shoreline in PA and NJ, this area offers canoeing, fishing, swimming, hiking, wildlife watching, waterfalls and historic areas. Visitors can see Dingmans Falls, Zane Grey's Home, Roebling Bridge and the Appalachian Trail. 570-426-2452
Lake Wallenpaupack: This 5,700-acre lake is owned by PPL and is open to public fishing and boating. The lake contains many species of warm-water fish in addition to trout. The lake is 25 minutes north of the park. 877-PPL-LAKE (877-775-5253).
Maps and Downloadables
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Alternate versions of the text of the brochures are in rich text and text formats. Click on the files to view them. To download (.rtf) files:
Promised Land State Park Map (.pdf) (1,610 kb, 8/14)
Interactive GIS Map
The Interactive GIS Map uses Geographic Information Systems to create a map that does not need to be downloaded and features driving directions, searchable park amenities and customizable maps. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
Promised Land State Park Cabin Map (.pdf) (371 kb, 12/13)
Promised Land State Park is in Pike County, 10 miles north of Canadensis, along PA Route 390. The park is easily accessed from interstate highways 80 and 84. It is within a one to three hour drive from Allentown, Easton, Bethlehem, Reading, Harrisburg, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. The park is about 100 miles north of Philadelphia and 35 miles from the New York and New Jersey state borders.
GPS DD: Lat. 41.29942 Long. -75.21412
Driving Directions: The Interactive GIS Map has turn-by-turn driving directions to the park office from the Park Information Window. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
Promised Land State Park