Yes fall is here officially. And there are still some fun things to do in our state parks. Among them are the wonderful chances to view the fall foliage. This area despite ranging from southern border to the northern border falls in the central region for fall foliage. This means that the area generally sees the fall foliage start about the beginning of October with the peak of the fall color being reached the second week of October. There are some programs at these parks during the weekends, but some parks have shut down their weekend programming for the year. To find out about programs going on at the park, check out the State Parks Calendar of Events. There are many trails for hiking or biking. These parks include the parks along the Laurel Mountain ridge tops. And yes there are still opportunities for camping in our state parks.
So here is a little help in planning your fall camping trip in the western regions of Pennsylvania. This area includes the Pittsburgh region and the Great Lakes region. This region covers Armstrong, Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Crawford, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Mercer, Somerset, Venango, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties. The closest park in this region is Laurel Ridge State Park which has one trailhead within 20 minutes of Johnstown. The farthest park is Presque Isle in Erie about three and a half hours away which does not have any camping at the park..
There are ten state parks with fall camping in this region. Most of these campgrounds have a wide variety of camping options and are open through December. Usually the campgrounds that are open until December close the day after shot gun deer season ends in Pennsylvania. There are a few exceptions to the options available and season length.
Yellow Creek State Park is located only about forty minutes from Johnstown off of Route 422 near Penn Run. The park does not have a traditional campground but does have six camping cottages that sleep five and have electric lights and outlets as well as four yurts. The yurts have a cooking stove, refrigerator, and electric heat and outlets. These facilities can be rented through the first weekend in November. The park has a good selection of fall programs which include Fall Foliage by Boat tours on October 9, 11, 12 and 13 as well as Halloween Stories around the Campfire on October 22.
Linn Run State Park is located about fifty minutes from Johnstown near Ligonier. The park does not have any fall programming or a campground, but does have nine rustic cabins available year round. The cabins electric heaters, fireplace inserts electric stoves and refrigerators. They are serviced by two rustic toilets and a modern washhouse with showers and flush toilets.
Kooser State Park is about fifty minutes from Johnstown near Hidden Valley Resort. The park has a 35 site campground has thirty sites with electrical hook-ups and is open through mid-October. The campground has flush toilets and warm showers and has some sites designated as pet sites. The park also has nine rustic cabins that can be rented year round although the rentals are handled by a concessionaire after deer season in December. The cabins are heated by a wood stove. Renters must supply their own wood, cookware, and sheets. There is a centralized modern shower house.
Laurel Hill State Park sits in the Laurel Mountains in the about fifty minutes from Johnstown. The park has a 264 site campground that is open through the third Sunday in October. About half of the sites have electrical hook-ups and there are bathhouses with flush toilets and hot showers available. Pets are permitted on some designated sites. There are also eight camping cottages near the campground that sleep five and have electric lights and outlets. The park also has the Laurel Hill Lodge that can be rented year round. The lodge which sleeps fourteen has a large fireplace, a private deck, modern conveniences and a hot water heating system. There is a recreation room and other comforts for winter recreation. There is some limited programming opportunities at the park during the fall, but the area is great for fall foliage.
Keystone State Park is about an hour from Johnstown not far from New Alexandria in Westmoreland County. The park has 100 sites in two campgrounds. The lakeside campground also has three camping cottages and two yurts. Both campgrounds have modern bathhouses, although showers may not be available after October 1. There are also a limited number of pet sites in the campgrounds. The campground is open until through the third weekend in October. The park also has eleven modern cabins that can be rented year round. The park does have some fall programming but also has a Farmers Market on Sunday’s through the end of October.
Ohiopyle State Park is located about an hour and a half from Johnstown along the Youghiogheny River. The park has a 200 site campground many with electrical hook-ups and some that are designated as pet sites. Thirty-seven of these sites are walk-in sites. The campground also has modern bathhouses with flush toilets and hot showers. The campground also has three rustic camping cottages with electric heat, lights and outlets as well as four yurts. The campground is open through mid-December. With 70 miles of hiking trails, there are many opportunities for enjoying the fall foliage.
Moraine State Park is situated near the intersection of route 422 and Interstate 79 about a two hour drive from Johnstown. Like Yellow Creek State Park, Moraine does not have a campground but does have eleven modern cabins that can be rented year round. The cabins sleep six and have two bedrooms, bathroom with a shower, electric heat, and a kitchen. Renters must bring their own linen, towels and cookware. All of the cabins are also ADA accessible. The park does have some fall programming including the free Kayak in Color on October 10 and 22. There are also options at the bordering Jennings Environmental Education Center and McConnells Mill State Park.
Raccoon Creek State Park is about two and a quarter hours from Johnstown in Beaver County. The park has a campground with about 172 modern campsites with electrical hook-ups. The main campground has flush toilets and showers. Some sites are designated as pet sites. The campground is opened through mid-October. There are also two primitive tent only camping areas along a 19.5 backpacking trail at the park. Each has five Adirondack style shelters along with tent sites. The Sioux rustic camping area is opened year round, but access can’t be guaranteed during the winter months. There are also ten modern cabins and the Lakeside Lodge which can be rented year round. The park does have some fall programming including a Youth Beginning Archery program on October 1 and a Fall Foliage Nature Paddle on October 16.
Ryerson Station State Park is about a two hour and forty-five minute drive from Johnstown in Greene County. The park has a 46 site rustic campground with about half of the sites having electrical hook-ups. There are also two camping cottages with electric heat, lights and outlets. The campground is serviced by pit latrines. These facilities are opened year round. Currently the lake has been drawn down due to concerns with the dam. This means that for the most part the park is without any water activities.
Pymatuning State Park is located about three hours from Johnstown on the Ohio border. The park has 423 sites between two campgrounds with about half of these sites having electrical hook-ups. The campgrounds do have modern facilities including flush toilets and hot showers and pets are permitted on designated sites. The camping facilities are opened through mid-October but you should contact the park for more specific information. There are also twenty modern cabins in the Jamestown Campground that are available for rentals year round. One of the programs going on at the park is the Halloween Spooktacular that takes place the second and third weekends in October.
So come out and camp this fall. Enjoy our award winning state parks and experience the beautiful fall foliage of Penn’s Woods. Remember to come prepared for cooler weather and try some new tastes over the campfire.
Pennsylvania State Parks price guide link
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