Gurgling brooks and creeks filling the many National Parks are just some highlights across the countryside. In addition, there are hidden gems to be found and plenty of historic sites located close to RV campsites or further off the beaten track where vehicles can’t reach.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development continually advertises and entices outdoor enthusiasts to the many camping choices in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania’s wildernesses are filled with an unexplainable yet ancient spirit. Nature-lovers camping in Pennsylvania will be pleasantly surprised by Pennsylvania’s massive population of beautiful whitetail deer.
The public park’s landscape of Pennsylvania is diversified and rich in variation. The Appalachian Mountains divide the state, making the eastern and western sections culturally and geographically diverse, although neither is devoid of natural treasures. In our guide, you can learn more about where to go camping and what is offered. You can find these in many RV resorts if you need a full-service campground with features such as a dump station.
By the end, you’ll have no end of choices and options from all the campgrounds in PA to explore kettle Creek, the Pocono Mountains, and many other miles of hiking trails or lakes and rivers on offer.
Can I Pitch A Tent Anywhere In PA?
For some, a field with an RV or trailer campsites isn’t camping. Fortunately, the Pennsylvania mountains offer many opportunities to go far into the backcountry, along with the trees and your provisions. Pennsylvania has some of the best rustic camping in the Northeast, from Sullivan County to the Appalachian Mountains. (Find the Best Extra Wide Camping Cots)
Here are some of the best campgrounds in Pennsylvania:
The Poe Valley
Poe Paddy State Park in central Pennsylvania isn’t the most secluded, but it’s an excellent place to start.
You’ll find a thick forest canopy with steep slopes up White Mountain, where you’ll find a few dozen private campsites. Only campfire rings, picnic tables, vault toilets, and water are provided.
Allegheny National Forest
The Allegheny National Forest is 513,175 acres in size. Some of the best walleye fishing in either state may be found along with magnificent mountain forests encompassing dozens of campgrounds and two-thirds of the Allegheny Reservoir.
The small Minister Creek Campground offers six sites with some of the nicest tent camping in Pennsylvania, vault toilets, and a hand-pump for water.
Some of the larger campsites in the region offer a swimming pool, horseback riding along the equestrian trails, and other amenities.
Many campgrounds in the Allegheny National Forest, such as the 20-site Handsome Lake Boat Access Campground, are accessible by foot or water only.
Primitive camping is common, and hundreds of miles of trails offer backcountry camping.
Some sites may require you to get a free permit if you spend multiple nights there.
An adventurous hiker might hike to Georgia or Maine from anywhere along the Pennsylvania segment of the Appalachian Trail.
Even if your ambitions aren’t nearly as ambitious, you might easily spend a week or two hiking the Appalachian Trail in eastern Pennsylvania. Backcountry campsites are plentiful, with lean-to trail shelters every 10 miles.
Most shelters include water nearby, vault toilets, and a place to pitch a tent. However, there are dozens of villages within a mile of the trail where you can stop for supplies. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has detailed trail maps and information.
Suppose you are on the lookout for tent and RV sites. Here are a couple of options available.
Lake in Wood RV Resort
- Pool and Spa
- Fishing and Boating
This Gnome-themed campground is one of the most exciting spots to escape the humdrum in the neighborhood.
Enjoy a 6-acre lake, a Gnome cafe, and fantastic entertainment. Enjoy the pool, mini-golf, boat, winning pool, or spa as the youngsters play on the playground or kiddie pool.
Lake in Wood RV Resort has numerous accommodation alternatives. Rent a barn, yurt, tipi, or covered wagon for a memorable adventure. We also rent deluxe park models. (Read What Is A Walk Up Campsite)
Hershey Park Camping Resort
- Country store
- Picnic tables with fire rings
- Laundry and Shower facilities
The best feature of Hershey Park Camping Resort is locality to Hershey Park.
It also has a chocolate theme and offers special Hershey Park privileges, including free parking and early and late access. Discounts are also available at the Hershey Story Museum Experience and Hershey Gardens.
Meanwhile, the camping resort’s activities keep both parents and children entertained. There are activities every weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day and the first three weekends of the season.
If you seek quiet, you may find the RV spaces are often close together.
Raystown Lake Resort
- Hiking and geocaching
- water sports and water park
A nature lover’s dream disguised as a resort, Lake Raystown Resort. Camping options include tent and trailer sites, yurts, and cabins on Pennsylvania’s largest lake.
Expect to be soaked because there are so many water activities here. Swim at the beach, boat on the lake, play at the water park, or SUP.
On land, try geocaching. Six caches are on the resort grounds, with more scattered about.
This entire campground on three peninsulas also has many modern conveniences. If you don’t feel like cooking, get a bite at the Marina Café. Then, spend the afternoon at Wild River Waterpark.
Buttonwood Campground is one of Pennsylvania’s largest campgrounds, nestled along the Juniata River Valley.
It has large, pet-friendly RV and tent camping sites and cabin rentals. But Buttonwood Campground is famous not only for its size but also for its fun activities.
Enjoy the Juniata River by tube, kayaking, or canoe. There’s also a swimming pool and mini golf.
Attractions near Midway Drive-In Theater include golf courses, hiking, fishing, and boating.
Otter Lake Camp Resort
Stay at Otter Lake Camp Resort and get near to the Poconos. This secluded campground’s 300 wooded acres will thrill any camper—canoe or kayak on the 60-acre lake. Or go fishing for bass, perch, catfish, and other species.
Modern activities abound for those who prefer a more modern camping experience. Among them are archery and handicraft. There are also basketball courts. In addition, there are four playgrounds, a splash park, and a game room for the kids. (Learn Will A Snake Cross A Braided Rope)
Ricketts Glen State Park
Ricketts Glen State Park is a beautiful camping destination for anyone who appreciates outdoor activities year-round. You can find horseback riding, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, etc.
The park offers fishing, boating, a swimming beach, rental cabins, and other campgrounds. The park offers five luxurious cottages, 10 modern cabins, and 120 tent and trailer campsites.
Bring sturdy hiking shoes as this park’s famous Falls Trail entices. This trail passes 21 spectacular waterfalls ranging in height from 11 to 94 feet.
Lake Jean, within the park, is ideal for swimming, fishing, and boating.
Hickory Run State Park
Hickory Run State Park is a wonderful place to explore by compass or GPS.
This park’s 20,000-year-old boulder field is a National Natural Landmark. Take a GPS journey to this ice period remnant natural history site. The park provides directions to explore the old landscape.
Enjoy Sand Spring Lake. Get some sun on its sandy beach.
Hickory Run offers over 300 tent and trailer campsites. Beware of the area’s active bear population and hang your food up. If you want something less daring, stay in one of the park’s five cottages.
French Creek State Park
Winter activities include ice skating, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing.
A disc golf course and 35 miles of hiking trails await you at French Creek State Park in the Schuylkill Highlands.
Try the 20 miles of rocky mountain biking trails for a more challenging pastime. These trails will take you over hills, through forests, and streams.
The Hopewell Lake and Scotts Run Lake are both included within the park. Bring your boat or rent one for either lake.
Bring your fishing gear. Hopewell Lake is teeming with fish, including bass, walleye, and northern pike. In addition, Scotts Run Lake is stocked with trout year-round.
The park offers 10 modern cabins, deluxe cottages, two yurts, and 200 tent and trailer sites. Not too far away, you can catch the Black Cherry trees.
Ohiopyle State Park
On the hike-in side of Ohiopyle State Park are 200 camping and trailer sites. Cottages and yurts can also be rented.
Pennsylvania is rich in history and natural beauty that any camper can experience. As a result, the Keystone State offers more outdoor activities than any other state, from simple tent camping to luxurious RV sites to cabins and yurts.
Where else can you go whitewater rafting, climb to 21 waterfalls, see the Milky Way, or GPS an ancient boulder field? This may be the ideal camping state with fantastic hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, and boating.
Is Pennsylvania Good For Camping?
More Pennsylvania camping resources and campsite guides
Camping in a Pennsylvania state park puts you on the fast track to family-fun activities!
Raccoon Creek State Park
Raccoon Creek State Park is one of Pennsylvania’s largest and most scenic state parks, with fishing, camping, boating, mountain biking, 44 miles of hiking trails, playgrounds, and much more!
Bald Eagle State Park
Bald Eagle State Park, located in the middle of Pennsylvania, is a fantastic place to go camping, boating, fishing, swimming, and animal watching. The 1,730-acre lake is surrounded by forests, farmland, and wetlands on the sides of Bald Eagle Mountain.
Best Cabin Camping in Pennsylvania
Looking for a way to make roughing it a little less rough? For your next vacation, Pennsylvania state parks provide a variety of lodging alternatives, including cabins, yurts, deluxe cottages, and camping cottages.
Black Moshannon State Park
This park, which spans over 3,300 acres of forest and forests, offers 14 rustic and six modern cabins, 20 miles of trails, and plenty of fishing and boating opportunities on Black Moshannon Lake. (Read Best Tent Camping In Ohio)
Ricketts Glen State Park
Hike the Falls Trail System to find the Glens, which comprise a succession of wild, free-flowing waterfalls that cascade down rock-strewn clefts in this old mountainside. Ganoga Falls, at 94 feet, is the tallest of the 22 named waterfalls.
Cook Forest State Park
The Cook Forest Park, in picturesque northwestern Pennsylvania, is known for its strands of old-growth forest. Hike the trails or raft on a 10-mile stretch of the Clarion River.
Where Can I Go Camping For Free In PA?
The Keystone State, Pennsylvania’s historic nickname, offers captivating nature and outdoor activities to keep any camper intrigued.
The state homes the Appalachian Mountains and Lake Erie and was one of the original 13 colonies full of natural beauty.
Pymatuning State Park is Pennsylvania’s largest, with over 21,000 acres. It’s also one of Pennsylvania’s most frequented state parks, including a 17,000-acre Pymatuning Reservoir.
Where can you camp for free?
Pennsylvania has a lot of places where you can camp for free. The Appalachian Mountains are ideal places to go hiking, see the best vistas, and camp for free.
Three of the most popular camping spots include Tioga State Forest, Susquehannock State Forest, and Elk State Forest.
Rothrock State Forest, Weiser State Forest, and Loyalsock State Forest all allow boondocking.
In Pennsylvania, the camping season runs from April to October. However, some campgrounds, such as French Creek State Park, Ricketts Glen State Park, and Gifford Pinchot State Park, offer year-round camping.
Gifford Pinchot State Park is among the top, with many modern cabins and cottages.
What Is The Safest Place To Camp?
Pennsylvania boasts a diversified landscape with many tent camping options. Rivers, islands, lakes, forests, and even farms are excellent places to camp.
If you like stargazing, there is no better site than the Cherry Springs State Park. In the day, you have endless opportunities for wildlife watching in places such as Cook Forest.
Parker Dam State Park
Parker Dam State Park is 968 acres in Penfield, PA. It borders the 50,000-acre Moshannon State Forest, which trekkers can utilize for hiking and camping.
There are 109 camping options. Tent sites and RV sites are available with electric hookups. The campsites allow pets and include showers, restrooms, and other modern amenities.
Although the park only has 16 miles of trails, some lead into the Quehanna Wild Area. The 73 miles of forest trails here can take up to seven days to complete, and there are chances for primitive tent camping along the way.
- Mountain Biking — Multi-use trails go into Moshannon State Forest, which has more mountain biking trails.
- Swimming – A five-foot-deep sand beach. Located close are toilets and a snack bar.
- Boating — The lake is 20 acres and allows electric-powered boats. You can use and rent boats like rowboats, kayaks, and paddleboats.
Fishing bluegill, largemouth bass, and brook trout on the lake. During the ice fishing season, brook trout can be caught through the ice.
There are 807 acres of the park dedicated to hunting deer and turkey. There is also a short hunting dog training season.
The park has many geocaches placed up. These can be found via basic orienteering or more high-tech GPS scavenger hunts.