7 of the Best National Parks in Pennsylvania

There are a whopping 25 National Park Services in the state of Pennsylvania, though the state is not home to any National Parks. The national park services are comprised of three National Historic Trails and three National Scenic Trails. The state is also home to other fascinating parks services, for instance, there are seven National Historic Sites. There are also three National Historical Parks, a National Military Park, and a National Recreation Area. Also there you’ll find a National Treasure, three National Memorials and a National Battlefield. But wait, there’s more. The state is also home to a National Scenic River, and a Scenic and Recreational River. Ready to explore all that the Keystone State has to offer? Here are some of the best National Parks in Pennsylvania to visit.

7 of the Best National Parks in Pennsylvania

1. Independence – National Historical Park

In Independence National Historical Park you’ll find the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Inside Independence Hall is where Congress both debated and signed the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Also inside the park are wonderful historic sites of importance, for instance, Congress Hall, Old City Hall and the Second Bank of the United States of America. You can also visit plenty of interesting exhibitions and museums.

best national parks pennsylvania

2. Appalachian – National Scenic Trail

The Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The 2,200-mile (3,500km) public footpath stretches from Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. The first section of the trail opened in 1923 and construction finished in 1937. Due to rerouting and modifying, the trail’s length varies from time to time. The scenic footpath crosses “wooded, pastoral, wild, and culturally resonant lands of the Appalachian Mountains.” Approximately three million people visit the Trail every year. Some 3,000 people a year attempt a thru-hike. Those who manage to complete the entire Appalachian Trail in one go become 2,000-milers. Only about one in four make it all the way. Some 229 miles of the trail passes through Pennsylvania and the northern two-thirds of the trail here have the nicknames “the place where boots go to die” and “Bootsylvania”, due to the amount of wear and tear on hikers’ boots.

best national parks pennsylvania

3. Chesapeake Bay Watershed – National Treasure

Chesapeake Bay is recognised as a national treasure for its historical, cultural, economic and ecological significance. It is a world-class ecological gem that is home to several thousand species of plants and animals, for instance, blue crabs and bald eagles. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and one of the largest and most biologically productive estuaries in the world. The Chesapeake Bay watershed and network of streams, creeks, and rivers cover 64,000 square miles of the East Coast of the USA. It stretches from upstate New York to southern Virginia, from the West Virginia panhandle to the Delmarva Peninsula. All along the watershed, you can enjoy fishing, hunting, boating, water sports, hiking, bird-watching, and relaxation.

4. Lewis & Clark – National Historic Trail

Extending for some 4,900 miles (7,900km) from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon, the ‘Lewis and Clark’ is the third-longest National Historic Trail. The Trail of Tears in North Carolina and the California Trail are both longer. The trail follows the 1804 to 1806 Lewis and Clark Expedition who set off to cross the newly acquired western portion of the country after the Louisiana Purchase. In Pennsylvania, the trail takes plenty of historical sites, for instance, the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and the Neill Log House.

 

5. North Country – National Scenic Trail

The North Country National Scenic Trail provides hikers with an opportunity to experience wild natural beauty. The trail snakes its way across eight northern states from Vermont to North Dakota. It takes in the following states: Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Stretching over 4,600 miles, this trail takes you by some wonderful landscapes, for instance, hills and valleys, lakes and rivers, open prairies, and passed historic sites that tell how America settled and grew as a nation.

6. Flight 93 – National Memorial

On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, four al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked United Airlines Flight 93, which was part of the September 11 attacks. Just after 10am, Flight 93 crashed into a field near Indian Lake and Shanksville in Pennsylvania. The seven crew members, 33 passengers and the four hijackers all died, however, it is because of the brave actions of the crew and passengers that an attack on the United States Capitol was thwarted. The Flight 93 National Memorial commemorates this crash and honours the passengers and crew, for example, the Wall of Names, features forty white polished marble stones inscribed with the names of the passengers and crew.

 

7. Gettysburg – National Military Park

Gettysburg is a town where you’ll find the Gettysburg National Battlefield, which is part of the Gettysburg National Military Park. The park also includes other buildings, for instance, the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center. The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War. It was fought from July 1 to 3, 1863. The battle between Union and Confederate forces was the Civil War’s bloodiest battle, for example, there were more than 50,000 estimated casualties. It was also the inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln’s immortal “Gettysburg Address”. The Gettysburg National Cemetery feature a memorial that marks the site of this famous speech.

Gettysburg - National Military Park

Melanie May

Melanie is an intrepid solo traveller, endlessly curious about people, places and food. She is a fan of slow travel and loves exploring the world by mouth, discovering a culture through its food. Having backpacked her way around the world she turned her wanderlust into a career and is now a full-time travel writer.

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