As someone who has visited all 121 state parks, I think it’s obvious why every single Pennsylvanian should love our state parks. The waterfalls. The hiking trails. The bike paths. The incredible animals, plants and trees. The mountain sunsets. The lakeside sunrises.
But then I remember, it wasn’t that long ago that I knew nothing about our incredible public lands. In 2021, I undertook my self-proclaimed 121 In ‘21 Challenge – with the goal of running one mile at every state park in 2021. After 224 days, I had completed my challenge and in that short period of time, I had become a lover of state parks. I began sharing my admiration of state parks with anyone that would listen, and sometimes those that wouldn’t
But before the 121 In ‘21 Challenge, I had no experience in state parks aside from a couple Saturday afternoon disc golf matches and Sunday morning strolls. I had never spent any meaningful time outdoors. No hiking. No camping. Nothing.
So, during “I Love My State Parks Week,” I thought I’d let those who were like me and had never visited state parks know what they are missing.
Here’s 25 reasons why you should love Pennsylvania state parks:
- There are 121 state parks in Pennsylvania, which means there’s something for everybody.
- Our state parks provide unmatched natural beauty throughout the commonwealth.
- A rich, biodiverse landscape offers everything from prairies to old growth forests for visitors.
- Parks host community events throughout the year to introduce the outdoors to kids and adults from all backgrounds.
- State parks provide ample opportunities to enjoy nature through physical activities, like hiking, biking and kayaking.
- Campsites, RV spots and cabin rentals offer affordable vacation options.
- Hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails means that you can experience nature at your comfort level.
- From elk to black bears, you have the opportunity to see big, beautiful animals.
- There’s 22 named waterfalls in just ONE park – Ricketts Glen State Park. And there’s plenty more throughout Pennsylvania.
- Pennsylvania’s only beachfront can be found at Presque Isle State Park along Lake Erie.
- Fishing, hunting and trapping are allowed in state parks, giving outdoor enthusiasts ample public lands to participate in their hobbies.
- Rock climbing, hang gliding and scuba diving are just a few of the alternative activities you can participate in at state parks.
- State park Friends groups enable Pennsylvanians to protect Pennsylvania’s natural beauty while making lifelong friendships.
- With some patience and a pair of binoculars, you can spot up to 450 bird types in Pennsylvania state parks.
- Environmental learning centers provide visitors a chance to learn about indigenous cultures, geology, plants and trees and animals.
- These state parks are your birthright as a citizen of Pennsylvania.
- The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, which can be seen at Leonard Harrison and Colton Point State Parks.
- Visiting a state park means you are supporting the communities around them. State park visitors fuel the economy of restaurants, shops, stores and much more.
- State park visitas and overlooks provide stunning photography opportunities that can be captured with expensive camera equipment or your smartphone.
- State parks provide you an opportunity to experience the calming, stress reducing effects of walking leisurely in nature.
- Pavilions provide spaces to have affordable family get-togethers, reunions, work outings a lot more.
- The State Park Passport gives visitors a fun adventure of collecting stamps at all 121 state parks and 20 state forests.
- There are state parks in 61 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. That means there’s a park within a short car ride of you, no matter where you live.
- Keeping kids busy and engaged is never a problem at state parks thanks to playgrounds, learning centers and activities.
- They are free. All 121 of them.
Christian Alexandersen ran one mile in each of Pennsylvania’s 121 state parks in 2021 and has been sharing with us stories and tips from his journey! To read more blog posts from Christian and other PPFF guest bloggers, visit our News page.
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(Night Sky Photo by Kyle Yates)