Family camping in Pennsylvania is mainly a late-spring, summer and early-fall activity. To find secluded campgrounds, the best times of the year are from April through mid-May, and again in October through mid-November, missing the rush of schoolchildren. The campsites we’ve found for this article can definitely get busy in the middle of summer, but still, if you plan ahead you’ll be able to book a cabin or tent site throughout the peak season.
The Keystone State is known for its lakes, wooded areas, and mild summer temperatures. Check out this brief guide to some of the best parks, state and private, Pennsylvania has to offer for families:
1) The Hickory Creek Wilderness Ranch is located in Tidioute, in the far western part of the state near the Ohio border. For family camping in Pennsylvania, this area is gorgeous. Meadows, tree-lined trails, and plenty of opportunities for riding. Bring your own horse or follow a guide on an equine outing.
2) In western Pennsylvania, you’ll also find free camping in the Allegheny National Forest. About 100 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, this area is vast and includes large portions of the Allegheny River, as well as a large reservoir for boating and fishing.
3) A bit farther east is the much more developed Pioneer Park Campground, with a pool and other family-friendly activities.
4) Laurel Hill State Park lies just south of Pioneer and has both a lake and extensive hiking trails. Built by the CCC during the Great Depression, this is a hot spot for family camping in Pennsylvania, so reserve early.
5) Lost Mountain Campground is a private area, just south of Laurel Hill, that sports a heated pool and playground. Fees are reasonable for small cabins or primitive tent camping.
6) Hard to pronounce, but easy to find—Quemahoning Family Recreation Area is just due north from Laurel Hill and has everything a family could ask for: beach, kayaking, and hiking.
7) Laurel Ridge State Park is another state park bargain, just north and west of Quemahoning. This destination is known for its extensive hiking trails. Relatively uncrowded, this park is a favorite for dog and nature lovers.
8) Getting back on Route 30 and driving due north and west, you’ll come to Keystone State Park, which includes the 78-acre Keystone Lake. This is a small park with modern cabins, boating, and plenty of swimming and hiking.
9) From here, drive directly east, then head north to a park some say is the best family camping in Pennsylvania: Prince Gallitzin. This royally-named campground offers boating, miles of pristine shoreline, cottages and disc golf.
10) Continue north into the wooded area where Black Moshannon State Park lies. This park, like many in the Keystone State, surrounds a beautiful lake. Boat rentals are available for a mellow paddle through the wetlands and Haunted Lake.