This weekend, I got to do something I haven’t in years: go camping with my family. It’s something we did quite a bit as I was growing up. I wish I could tell you it was our unbridled love for the outdoors alone that drove us to pitch camp most places we went to see, but that’s only most of the picture. The fact that campsites are SO much cheaper (25 bucks a night) than hotel rooms makes (for people who love the outdoors, at least) the decision a no-brainer. Ricketts Glen is a Pennsylvania State Park situated in the northwestern portion of the Pocono Mountains, in northeastern Pennsylvania. It’s home to roughly twenty-four waterfalls along three creeks that have formed glens, which are simply long, narrow valleys with concave edges (as opposed to the steep walls of a ravine). Needless to say, most every part of this trip was set among gorgeous scenery, from the drives in and out, to the hikes, to our campsite and the nearby lake.
Having grown up camping, I’ve been to a lot of different campgrounds. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out where to check in; other times, it’s hard to discern one site from another or even find your way around; still others it’s nigh impossible to even find the entrance. Ricketts Glen has none of these problems. goodle maps took us right to the visitors’ center; the roads are all nicely paved; signage is plentiful, recognizable, and legible; and my favorite part: one of the best hikes in Pennsylvania was a mile’s walk from my tent—over flat pavement. In good shoes, a flat mile’s nothing, particularly since there’s a shaded seating area right at the Falls Trailhead. I’ll be covering the Falls Trail hike (the awesome one) in my next article, so just sit tight on more information on that; this will be a link to that post once it’s up. There’s other hiking in the park as well: several trails of different lengths and intensities. More on that later.
Being navigable is nice, but there should be more to a state park than good signage and a pretty hike. Ricketts Glen has this covered, boasting fishing, hunting, swimming, boating, horseback riding, cross country skiing, and snowmobiling in addition to the hiking and camping I’m talking about. The pet area (which is specifically distinct) of the campground is situated on a peninsula jutting out into Lake Jean, and it was a short walk to the beach from our site in the pet area.
The bathhouses are more updated and kept cleaner than many I’ve seen, and though there don’t seem to be any sites with electricity or water, I’d say that’s in the spirit of actual camping. I sleep with a cpap machine and doctors have found that I don’t complete REM cycles when I “sleep” without it, but two nights away from it didn’t kill me. I wasn’t even cranky and short-tempered like I expected to be. If I can do two nights without my cpap, you can do two nights without air conditioning, I’m sure of it.
Especially since signal is about five minutes away, at Red Rock Scoop. That’s right: a short drive out of the park will take you back to a slice of civilization. There’s not much more than a general store and a fast casual restaurant (with no indoor seating), but there’s cell signal and Hershey’s Ice Cream, which is a regional specialty. I’d never had their “Better Brownie Batter” before, and let me tell you: it’s fire. They had a Red Velvet flavor, too, which almost tempted me in. They’re not just stuck on ice cream, either: there were burgers and dogs, and I think I saw a fryer back there, but the internet won’t confirm or deny this inkling.
You can plan a whole weekend vacation around Ricketts Glen State Park without ever having to leave it—unless you have a 700+ day Snap Streak with your fiancee or other such tie to the digital world. If that is the case, you’re a scoop of Hershey’s Ice Cream away from contact with everyone you love (or just know). However, there’s a whole holiday weekend’s worth of entertainment within the park itself. If you’ve been wanting to head for the hills, Ricketts Glen is a one-stop-shop of camping fun just waiting for you.
I used to live in Philly and spent most weekends and any off time up in the Pocono’s camping and fishing, until I moved to Alaska so seeing the name Ricketts Glen on a posting had me reading it in seconds.
It is funny now because i used to think that camping there was ‘getting away from it all’ type camping until I found my off-grid home in the Northern Alaskan wilderness.
But yes Ricketts Glen is no doubt a touch of wilderness heaven for those still living in the congested East Coast.
These wilder spots are really at a premium in the midAtlantic. Glad to hear it’s Alaska wilderness approved!