12 Most Popular National Parks in Pennsylvania (2022)
Pennsylvania is a Mid-Atlantic state of the United States body, known for its key role in establishing the USA’s constitution. Often denoted as the Keystone State, Pennsylvania is admired and appreciated all around the US for its multifaceted history, lush countryside, rugged woodlands, charming small towns and especially the breathtakingly scenic Natural beauty. This beautiful state of Pennsylvania is home to 19 alluring National Parks spread wisely all over the region, offering a rich yet distinct selection to the travellers.
Pennsylvania is downright appealing and glorious, specifically if you are here to explore the outdoor recreations. From scenic trails to history, wildlife, natural greens and what not, National Parks in Pennsylvania offers outright entertainment, engagement and memories every single time you explore them. Though exploring 19 National Parks means going on a month’s long trip and when every single one amongst them is equally appealing, our compilation might help you to choose the finest ones first.
12 Most Popular National Parks in Pennsylvania
Have a look at our picks for the 12 Most Popular National Parks in Pennsylvania:
1. Valley Forge National Historical Park
Valley Forge is something that every institution in Pennsylvania teaches about, and this fact is enough to know how important a part of the State it is. This National Historic Park is known for its monument richness though it has an abundance of nature ensuring visitors can enjoy that ‘JUNGLE’ feel as well. The Park holds a spread of 3,500 acres and is ideal for a family day trip. Home to National significance and sentiments, it is perfect for those who are interested in knowing about the American revolution. Image Source
The balance of interactive history and authentic forest feel in Valley Forge draws over 1.2 million visitors each year. Other than the monumental attractions, the Park is also home to over 20 miles of hiking trails, 21 miles of biking trails and significant biodiversity. The Park also houses to a large tributary, Schuylkill River, known for fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing.
Reach at: 1400 N Outer Line Dr, King of Prussia
2. Independence National Historical Park
One of the most important sites of American History and Revolution, the Independence National Historical Park isn’t alone popular in Pennsylvania but also in the entire United States. Earlier in the past, it was the centre of advocating independence from Britishers and today; you can visit dozens of historic buildings and landmarks exploring a wide range of information. Though the site is known all across the world for the Liberty bell, it isn’t the only attraction you would visit here. From Independence Hall to museums, galleries, sculptures, gardens and whatnot, options here are truly endless.
Since the Independence National Historical Park can confuse visitors with an abundance of options, a 90-minute guided tour is ideal for staying on track and learning about the best. A lot of landmarks here inside the parks requires entry tickets; thus, make sure you plan for that beforehand. If you want to avoid the rush, consider planning your trip when schools and institutions are still operational here in the State.
3. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is like a town on its own, spread over 70,000 acres protecting the Pennsylvanian section of the Delaware River. The wilderness of landscapes in this deciduous forest range is truly wonderful, and every season here brings a new sight and a unique experience for the visitors. This recreational Park is home to over 100 miles of hiking trails ranging from easy to difficult ensuring diverse visitors’ equal level of fun and excitement.
From historic colonies to early 18th-century settlements, from beautiful waterfalls to rolling streams, from towering granite cliffs to deciduous forest, every aspect of nature can be explored here in the Park. Some notable sites you can simply not miss include the Raymondskill falls, Military trail, the John Michal and John Turn farms, and the Zion Lutheran church. The best time to be here is from late fall to early summers when nature is at its bloom and river and streams are at their best.
Reach at: 1978 River Rd, Bushkill
4. Potomac Heritage National Historic Trail
The Potomac Heritage National Historic Trail is managed by the US National parks services. The trail networks parts of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia encompassing 710 miles of existing and planned pathways. All these miles include historical and cultural features, splendid nature and the beautiful Potomac Riverside. The trails are ideal for both hiking, horseback riding and biking and suitable for visitors of all fitness levels.
Considering Summer heat might make the experience at Potomac trails a little exhausting, the best time to be here is during the winter season. However, make sure you dress up well as temperature and breeze both can chill your spine. Hiking side by side woods and Potomac River is indeed a peaceful and restful experience, and every hiking enthusiast must make sure to add it to their itinerary. Also, for ensuring that you won’t miss the track, consider carrying along a PHT network map.
Reach at: Parts of Virginia / Maryland / Pennsylvania / District of Columbia
5. Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River area
One of the top fishing areas in the United States, the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River area, is a beautiful National Landmark. Though most of its part is managed by the National Park System, some 30 acres is owned by the Federal government. It can be reached in North-eastern Pennsylvania, dedicatedly in Wayne County. The Park offers several recreational opportunities, including canoeing, rafting, boating, wildlife watching, and fishing, along with Picnic and hiking opportunities.
The Upper Delaware recreational area is definitely one of the most scenic regions near the Pennsylvania and New York border, letting visitors enjoy the scenery of both regions. The two most notable features of the Park include Zane Grey Museum and the Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, also known as the Roebling Bridge.
Reach at: 274 River Rd, Beach Lake, Pennsylvania
6. Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River area
Impressively running water, historic significance and the Natural greens around call for a trip to the Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River area. Delaware River is the eastern United States’ largest free-flowing river, and spending some time nearby is indeed a calming experience on its own. The US National Park System included the region in, and since then, these delightful 67,000 acres range is proudly serving as a National Park in Pennsylvania.
Delaware is extremely popular amongst kayakers and anglers; however, the wild zone hosts a number of other landmarks and recreational opportunities. When here, you can explore Riegelsville Historic District & Benjamin Riegel House, National Canal Museum, the Philip Mill, the Parry Mansion, Ralph Stover State Park, Honey Hollow Watershed National Historic Landmark and a handful of other appreciable landmarks.
Reach at: 200 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia
7. Appalachian National Historic Trail
The Appalachian National Historic Trail, though originally is an acclaimed landmark of West Virginia but 229.6 miles of this astounding trail passes through Pennsylvania as well. The trail region encompassing Pennsylvania’s land is extremely rocky that hikers often refer to it as Rocksylvania. Appalachian is also the longest only-hike trail in the world, hosting over 2 million hikers every year from around the globe. These trails will take you near 2,000 threatened, endangered, rare, and sensitive Flora and Fauna species and other additional wildlife.
Some major intersection of the Appalachian National Historic Trail in Pennsylvania includes the US 30 near Fayetteville, I-76 in Middlesex Township, US 11/US 15 in Duncannon, I-81 near Fort Indiantown Gap, and I-476 near Slatington, Pennsylvania. While exploring the trails from the State, make sure you are aware of the land games and have a paper map ready in hand. Also, considering the rocky terrains, the hike is not ideal for beginners and moderate fitness level hikers.
Reach at: Cumberland County
8. Friendship Hill National Historic Site
The Friendship Hill National Historic Site is managed by the National Park Service and is open for public exploration. It is located in the rural southwestern region of Pennsylvania, encompassing 675 acres of land in total. The main focus, though, is the Albert Gallatin House that once served as residence to famous American politician Albert Gallatin. Apart from that, the Park is also home to 10 miles of hilly hiking trails, a huge spread of gardens and flat fields, a few other historic homes and magnificent scenery all around.
Considering the Park is set up on a hill, the views from atop are absolutely amazing. If you are looking forward to exploring the Albert Gallatin House and other Historic homes, consider planning your trip during weekends after October. You can opt from various tours, including the Historic home tour and the cell phone tour (preferably the most amazing).
Reach at: 223 New Geneva Road, Point Marion
9. Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial
The smallest unit of the National Park system in America, the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, encompasses only 0.02 acres of land. It is located in downtown Philadelphia and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. Known as a National Park, the site, though, includes only a residence of Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Kościuszko. While exploring the site, one can learn about Kościuszko and how he played a crucial role during the American Revolutionary War.
This National Memorial takes you close to the US National history, and here you can learn a lot of the American Patriots who generally are not mentioned in the regular books. The Park is only operational on Saturday and Sunday (from April through October) from 12 pm to 4 pm. If you are any chance in Philadelphia, make sure you stop by the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial Park and spend some time soaking in the history.
Reach at: 301 Pine Street in Philadelphia
10. Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site
Gloria Dei Church is a part of the National Park Service that makes it a National Historic site of Pennsylvania. The Park is home to several historic building some of which dates back to the year 1698 that is even older than the Pennsylvania state itself. Before the State came into existence, the region was known as New Sweden, and thus the historic site is noted as the last historic link to a forgotten past.
The Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site can be reached in the heart of Philadelphia. Here you can visit the Gloria Dei Church, the simplest and oldest church in Pennsylvania, the second oldest Swedish church in the United States that indeed has a wealth of details and uniqueness. Inside the church houses a huge collection of historical and religious artefacts, including a model of the ships, a bronze bell cast in 1801 using metal from a 1643 bell, a 1731 baptismal font and several other notable elements. Outside the church, you can also explore the cemetery of some remarkable people of history.
Reach at: 916 S Swanson St, Philadelphia
11. Flight 93 National Memorial Park
One of the darkest truths of United States history is the 9/11 attack, and if you want to overlook the time, there is no better place than the Flight 93 National Memorial Park. This National Park is dedicated as a memorial to pay tribute to the United Airlines Flight 93 crash and honour the crew and passengers. The Park encompasses 40 acres of woods and fields along with several permanent and temporary memorials.
A path within the parks takes visitors to overlook where the plane crashed, impacted and the region denoted by a large boulder. The National Memorial Day is one of the best days to be here, especially for those who want to recall and respect those 40 men and women who fought through yet lost their lives to the terrorist.
Reach at: 6424 Lincoln Hwy, Stoystown
12. Gettysburg National Military Park
The Gettysburg National Military Park is the site that offers you a tour of the Gettysburg battlefield, cemetery and dedicatedly the Battle of Gettysburg, the most vicious battles in the Civil War. This National Park protects the region of the 1863 civil battle and is one of the highly symbolic sites for ‘Memorials and Remembrance’. Battle of Gettysburg went straight for three days involving over 160,000 soldiers, of which 51,000 casualties were made by the end of the 3rd day, making it the deadliest battle of the entire civil war history.
Today the Park is home to miles of hiking trails (ranger-led hikes), more than 1,300 monuments, memorials, markers and various displays of the items that belonged to the war. Since the battle, nothing much has changed within the park and being here is like walking into the past, remembering the pain still. For a fine experience, take the 24-mile auto tour and explore some prime spots. Though if you have enough time, the entire Park is open for exploration.
Reach at: 1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg
PLEASE NOTE: National Parks in Pennsylvania are not only about Forest, landscapes, Flora and Fauna, but you can experience the diversity of elements here. If you are interested in only exploring nature, make sure you pick the dedicated ones from the list.