We are lucky to have 120 state parks in Pennsylvania, all of which are free and open to the public. Chances are that you’re never further than a 30 minute drive from one of our expansive and gorgeous natural landscapes. Now that summer is here, you have no excuse not to explore them. Here are twelve of the most distinctive and special state parks in Pennsylvania.
1. Presque Isle State Park, Erie
Pennsylvania's most expansive beaches are those found along the coast of Lake Erie, in Presque Isle State Park. The park includes thirteen sandy beaches as well as many miles of hiking trails.
2. Archbald Pothole State Park, Lackawanna
The appropriately named Archbald Pothole State Park is home to one of the largest potholes in the world, measuring in at 38 feet deep.
3. World's End State Park, Sullivan County
One of the most popular state parks in PA, World's End is known for trout fishing and white-water kayaking.
4. Big Pocono State Park, Monroe County
If you've ever been to Camelback Mountain, chances are you've also been through Big Pocono State Park. The area attracts many visitors during winter for skiing and snowboarding, but makes for a beautiful destination year-round.
5. Buchanan's Birthplace State Park, Franklin
The birthplace of the 15th president of the United States is commemorated by a stone monument in the shape of a pyramid.
6. Canoe Creek State Park, Blair County
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources named Canoe Creek State Park one of the twenty must-see state parks in Pennsylvania. It is home of the largest nursery colony of brown bats in the state.
7. Cherry Springs State Park, Potter County
Cherry Springs is famous as a destination for astronomers and stargazers. It has some of the darkest skies in the eastern half of the United States.
8. Benjamin Rush State Park, Philadelphia
Benjamin Rush State Park holds one of the largest community gardens in the entire world!
9. Greenwood Furnace State Park, Huntingdon County
Greenwood Furnace was once a thriving iron town in the 1800s, and remnants of it still remain along the beautiful hiking trails.
10. Jennings Environmental Education Center, Butler County
Here you will find 20 acres of natural prairie, the only place where this ecosystem is protected in the state.
11. Kinzua Bridge State Park, McKean County
A tornado in 2003 destroyed Kinzua Bridge, which was up until that point the world's highest and longest railway bridge.
12. Salt Springs State Park, Susquehanna County
This park is the only state park in Pennsylvania managed by a non-profit organization, the Friends of Salt Springs Park. It is home to 500 year-old hemlocks, some of the oldest trees in the state.
What are your favorite PA state parks? Which ones have interesting stories that you know about? Tell us about them in the comments below!