RVing in the Keystone State

Published: Monday, July 30, 2007

It was perhaps divine intervention that caused Pennsylvania land to be given to Quaker William Penn, Jr., in 1681 under a charter granted by King Charles II of England, because soon after, he took hold of a countryside woodland where he welcomed everyone and anyone, so long as he is God-fearing. Today, Pennsylvania continues to be blessed, boasting of a diverse array of both man-made and natural wonders scattered across its many regions. RVers visiting the land otherwise called the "Keystone State" should expect no less than 116 public parks, more than 2,000 lakes, 50 of which are of natural origins, and at least a thousand miles more of water acres classified as either rivers or streams.

The Pennsylvania Regions

The regions that comprise Pennsylvania are as colorful as its history, with each one carrying a set of attractions that are bound to attract most RV riders. In general, there are seven Pennsylvania regions including the Pennsylvania Great Lakes, the Pennsylvania Wilds, the Northeast Pennsylvania Mountains, the Pittsburg and Countryside Area, the Alleghenies and Valleys Area, the Dutch Country Roads, and the Philadelphia and Countryside Area.

The Pennsylvania Great Lakes Region

Set in the northwestern end of Pennsylvania, the region also goes by the tag the Lake Erie Region simply because it most prominent attraction is the highly-celebrated Lake Erie. Yet, there are several other natural wonders here in the form of rivers, mountains, and wildlife refuges that should make RVers want to stay and embark on an in-depth exploration.

With Lake Erie as reference point, it should be quite easy for most RV-boarded travelers to locate a suitable RV Park since most of the regional cities offer various access points to the great lake. In Corry, for example, the RV campground to see is Harecreek Campground essentially due to its proximity to Lake Erie and to several other nearby attractions like the Presque Isle Lighthouse. The 1872 landmark is housed in a sprawling state park situated near Lake Erie that also boasts of several beaches and hiking paths where RV-boarded visitors can engage in the appropriate outdoor activity.

The Pennsylvania Wilds Region

More than 500,000 acres of land in this region are forest areas where wildflowers, dogwood, pine, and hemlock trees abound, and all of these have been painstakingly consolidated under one entity, the Allegheny National Forest. RVers visiting the Pennsylvania Wilds will be literally overwhelmed by the multitude of outdoor interests that can be pursued here, the most notable of which are hiking in the more than 600 miles of regional trails and black bear and elk hunting, an activity pursued here for several generations now.

Bradford is the city to check out for RV-boarded travelers visiting this part of Pennsylvania set in the north central area. This is because the city plays host to the Tracy Ridge Recreation Area, an RV campground found within the vastness of the Allegheny National Forest where a total of 119 spacious camping sites are waiting along with a dump station, vault toilets, tent pads, and picnic tables.

The Northeast Pennsylvania Mountains Region

The region, settled in the northeastern corner of the "Keystone State", is also referred to as the Pocono Mountains and Endless Mountains Region. Quite obviously, the Pocono Mountains are the dominant features here, and visiting RVers should thank the gods for this as the mountains provide the venue for many outdoor activities that can be undertaken all throughout the year. These include hiking, mountain biking, bird-watching, and hunting. During winter, the mountains get engulfed in snow, literally by the ton, making for perfect downhill skiing and cross-country skiing ventures.

For an RV park that is nestled near the famed Pocono Mountains, Foxwood Campground should prove to be the most suitable. Lying right in the midst of the said mountains, this RV park significantly cuts down travel time for many RVers touring Northeastern Pennsylvania especially since the main regional attraction is just a few feet away.

Occupying a little more than 170 acres, Foxwood Campground also boasts of its own set of attractions. These include miniature golf courses, a swimming pool, and a half an acre pond teeming with Large Mouth Bass fishes.

The Pittsburgh and Countryside Region

Named after the city of Pittsburgh, the region naturally showcases the many wonders of this premiere city that is said to manufacture roughly ten percent of the world demand for steel. This has made Pittsburgh experience industrial growth at an early stage, opening up opportunities for the eventual creation of various recreational facilities. Today, RVers get to enjoy the beauty of several Pittsburgh state parks collectively covering around 2,500 acres. Complementing these are several cultural landmarks like museums and art galleries apart from several other natural attractions like the two great regional rivers namely Monongahela and Allegheny, where both boaters and anglers find their respective interests being addressed satisfactorily.

For RV-boarded tourists to fully enjoy all the perks that Pittsburgh can offer, they will need to find a nearby RV park, an aspect that Buffalo Run RV Park can ably address. Its central attraction is its proximity to Pittsburgh and to everything that it offers, and RV riders would do well checking in at this RV park situated about two miles away from the famed Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The Alleghenies and Valleys Region

This region covers such a vast area that opportunities for outdoor fun in these parts are practically limitless. Two specific regional attractions, however, tend to stand out from the rest, and these are Mt. Davis and the Susquehanna River. The former is the highest mountain in Pennsylvania while the latter is a favorite hang-out of anglers with its offering of smallmouth bass considered among the best in America.

Mt. Davis is a virtual mountain playground highlighted by a hiking path that extends for 70 miles. Meanwhile, the mountain waters below regularly produce rapids that make for great white-water rafting endeavors.

The enchanting Susquehanna River, for its part, has been around for centuries, dating back to the time when Native Americans roamed freely throughout Central Pennsylvania and used the river as their source of livelihood. These days, the area is renowned for its boating ventures while the remaining paths that surround the historic river are often populated by hikers, bikers, and skiers. Additionally, nearby Penns Creek has built a name as a trout-abundant stream and is likewise heavily-visited.

In Beavertown, there is one RV campground where direct access to the Susquehanna River and its accompanying valley is possible. The campground is Gray Squirrel Campsites where around 260 camping areas await the prospective RV-boarded travelers.

The Dutch Country Roads Region

The region presents a study in contrast of what South Central Pennsylvania was and what it is now. While RVers can get to learn much about the Amish lifestyle and the legacy left behind by Pennsylvania-born US President Abraham Lincoln, they can likewise have a great time enjoying the many modern regional attractions like amusement parks and shopping centers.

Outdoor recreations are also abundant here as state parks adorn various sections of this region, many of them having historical foundations. A good example of this is the country estate adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park where RVers can try camping out as the activity is offered here all year through, complemented by pursuits like horseback riding and mountain biking. The estate, covering around 230 acres, was once considered by former US President Eisenhower and his family as his true home.

Two regional cities namely Harrisburg and Hershey, are both found in these parts and for RVers wishing to have convenient access to these cities and their numerous attractions, the RV park to look for is Red Run Campground in New Holland City. The RV campground is only minutes away from such tourist destinations as the Hershey Park and Chocolate World, the celebrated Amish community, Gettysburg, Lancaster Outlet Malls, and several golf courses.

The Philadelphia and Countryside Region

History and natural attractions combine to make Southeastern Pennsylvania a preferred travel destination for many RV riders. The former is best represented by Philadelphia, the historically-rich Pennsylvania city that also happens to be its most populated area. Museums, theaters, art galleries, and the like are literally overflowing here, effectively displaying the many events that helped shape the American nation.

As for outdoor recreations, a total of 13 public parks are perched here, each one offering various outdoor activities. However, if one is to choose only one particular regional landmark with an outdoor setting, the choice has to be the Delaware Canal. Built sometime in the 1800's, the canal sees its waters running down to the Atlantic Ocean and has many areas devoted to such outdoor pursuits as fishing, hiking, boating, picnicking, and camping.

Quakerwoods Campground in Quakertown is the most logical choice for RVers looking for a place to settle in the RV while they enjoy the waters running through the Delaware Canal. The RV park offers direct access to the canal where a barge ride will take RV-boarded travelers to New Hope, the favorite hang-out of Southeastern Pennsylvania artists.

A Look into the Cities of the "Keystone State"

The many cities that comprise Pennsylvania state feature a diverse set of attractions although a few may not have a suitable campground for a visiting RVer. It becomes essential therefore that in planning a visit to the "Keystone State" aboard their RVs, travelers should initially try to ascertain the RV-friendliness of certain cities.


Harrisburg ought to be on the list of cities to explore for RV-boarded travelers visiting the "Keystone State" simply because the city carries both man-made and natural attractions that should prove to be highly interesting for many RVers. Despite its relatively small populace, the city offers RV-boarded visitors the relaxing feeling typical of a small-town community.

Being the state capital, Harrisburg naturally has the State Capitol building as among its prized offerings, and RV riders can ask for a tour of the structure whenever they come avisiting. Other than that, they may also want to see the nuclear power station down at Three Mile Island where a major nuclear accident took place way before the Chernobyl episode.

For outdoor pursuits, the obvious landmark to see is the historic Susquehanna River upon whose banks Harrisburg stands. The river, renowned for its musky and great bass residents, is quite popular among anglers although boaters are gradually seeing its waters equally enchanting as well.

There is one RV park nestled right in the center of Harrisburg that RVers should ideally check into since it provides several access points both to city attractions and to nearby wonders. The campground is Harrisburg East Campground conveniently situated near several major Pennsylvania stops, including downtown Harrisburg, approximately five miles away; Hershey, around ten miles away; and Gettysburg, roughly 35 miles away.


Lancaster is the central city of the Dutch Country Roads Region of Pennsylvania. For a time, it held the distinction of being the official state capital before the title was eventually transferred to Harrisburg. These days, its most prized attraction is the mysteriously enchanting community of the Amish, whose lifestyle of seclusion and simplicity has continuously awed and inspired an estimated seven million visitors that annually trek to this city nestled in South central Pennsylvania.

Yet, there is more to Lancaster than just the Amish. There are many historic landmarks here, many of them grouped together in the downtown area. RV riders will definitely want to see these attractions if only for their uniqueness, notably that provided by the Central Market, considered as the oldest state-run market in Lancaster City, where genuine Dutch treats alongside modern food fare fill the many stands.

Recreation-wise, the city boasts of at least eight public parks collectively covering 2,003 acres composed of a mysterious wildlife area, wooded trails, and sparkling streams that outdoor lovers will want to explore. However, for RV-boarded families, the Lancaster attraction to see is the Dutch Wonderland boasting of exciting roller coaster rides designed to bring total family entertainment.

For access to the many city attractions, particularly Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park, RV-boarded travelers can try checking in at Old Mill Stream Campground situated in central Lancaster. The RV park offers 160 fully-shaded RV sites and is conveniently placed close to several restaurants, theaters, and shopping centers. More significant, however, is its offer of discount tickets to its guests so they can gain entry to Dutch Wonderland at a relatively cheaper rate.

Keystone State Park

A multi-purpose public park put up in 1945, Keystone State Park comprises 1,200 acres of land covering two major areas in Southwestern Pennsylvania, namely, Westmoreland County and Derry Township. Its principal attraction is a man-made lake created in the 1900's by the Keystone Coal and Coke Company. The artificial lake, encompassing 78 acres, is a popular ground among swimmers, boaters, and picnickers while its nearby trails frequently invite the attention of hiking enthusiasts. The trails serve a second purpose, that of being a ski terrain since it gets covered with snow during winter, making it a perfect venue for holding cross-country skiing ventures. During the same season, the lake waters also get frozen, providing yet another common outdoor pursuit, that of ice fishing and even of ice skating.

Hunting is another popular outdoor pursuit here since nearly half of the land covered by the Keystone State Park is devoted to game activities. Commonly hunted here are grouses, pheasants, turkeys, squirrels and deer. Additionally, animal trapping and dog training activities are held in the park grounds, but only during the appropriate seasons.

Needless to say, Keystone State Park is a virtually complete outdoor recreation area in Southwestern Pennsylvania. RVers who have a passion for the outdoors will find the area an excellent place to commune with nature. RV parking is never a problem in these parts because there are actually around a hundred RV sites being put up here although these are generally available only during early spring up to the middle of the autumn season.

Mahoning Creek Lake

A man-made lake developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers around Mahoning Dam, the Mahoning Creek Lake is a renowned fishing ground with species of pikes, basses, crappies, walleyes, and muskies regularly being sighted. In 1971, the lake set a record when a large northern pike measuring 42-7/8" was caught in its waters, a record that should serve as motivation for RVers who have this burning passion for fishing.

Apart from fishing, another common water-based activity here is boating with the calm waters typical of Mahoning Creek Lake providing relaxation to those traversing its fringes as it heads toward Allegheny River. Providing even more relaxation are the forested hillsides that surround the lake and the recommended boating speed limit of 10 hp.

For RV riders intent on exploring the vicinity of the Mahoning Creek Lake along with their families, there are actually several picnic sites in these parts, many of them set under tree shades, and are adorned with such amenities as picnic tables, grills, modern restrooms, and playground facilities for the children. For a more expansive camping adventure, RVers will be delighted to find out that there are about 52 modern campsites here. The sites are generally RV-friendly since there are provisions for a dump station although electrical hook-ups are a little limited. Nevertheless, the amenities should be sufficient for most RV-boarded travelers to explore Mahoning Creek Lake and appreciate its natural wonders.

Planning a Pennsylvania Visit

Pennsylvania experiences the four known North American seasons and just like many American states, some of these seasons can at times reach extreme levels. Summer is typically dry and hot with temperatures sometimes reaching a high of 90 degrees. The winter months, meanwhile, can also reach extreme levels with the Pennsylvania mountains known to experience -10 degree temperatures.

In general, the months of September and October are ideal visiting times since summer is almost over and the autumn season is in its beginning stage, producing comparatively milder temperatures. Late spring, typically covering the months of May and June, are also recommended because shrubs and wildflowers start blossoming during this particular period especially around the forest area, providing color and life to the general surroundings.

Hershey Conewago Campground

The change in name may have given this RV campground an entirely new look, but it still promises the same kind of quality service and accessibility to some of the well-loved attractions this side of Pennsylvania. The former Hershey KOA, now referred to as Hershey Conewago Campground, is still situated in Southern Hershey, Pennsylvania, with the same access points to such attractions as Hershey's Chocolate World and Hershey Park. Additionally, one other highly-visited place, the state capital Harrisburg, is situated a mere ten miles away.

Covering all of 26 acres, the Hershey Conewago Campground boasts of 160 RV sites with RVers given the option to spend the night in any of the seven log cabins. The RV sites come in both sunny and shady type but if an RV owner opts for a log cabin, he has the advantage of sleeping before a calming pond approximately one acre wide, making for a truly invigorating rest.

Nestled in the quiet strip of Hershey Road in Elizabethtown, the RV park also offers several recreational facilities designed to keep RV riders fit so they can have the needed strength and stamina as they explore nearby attractions. These include a basketball court, a tennis field, horseshoe pits, a swimming pool, and a classic golf course covering 18 holes. For relaxation, one can try observing the nearby pond where carps, cois, and tadpoles mingle with one another in a playful but quiet setting.

Conewago Isle Campground

Its nearby attractions can all be reached within a short 30-minute drive, but then there are simply too many activities that RVers can engage in at Conewago Isle Campground that there may be no need to see any of the said attractions. For example, the relaxation being offered by nearby golf courses can conveniently be addressed by fishing ventures in the resident park creek. The excitement of a basketball or even a volleyball game can easily replace the exhilaration being offered by car racing activities being set from afar.

Apart from all of these, the Conewago Isle Campground has a resident camp store to take care of every possible camping need, including ice and firewood. The latter items should prove to be useful particularly for RV-boarded travelers thinking of holding a picnic in the campground, an activity that is most definitely encouraged.

For water-based enjoyment, there are paddle boats and canoes available for rent so one can explore nearby waters. Finally, to top off all of these, one can try playing the all-time favorite family game, bingo, and watch the family become closer by the end of the day.
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