Exploring Pennsylvania: Road Trips in the Quaker State
By Kimberly Graf. Published on November 16, 2023
Pennsylvania is one of the original colonies. The Declaration of Independence was written here, so you could say it was the birthplace of the American Revolution. Despite being extremely pivotal in our nation's history, it's also the home of Hershey, the chocolate capital of the world, and quite a few other famous locations. A trip here is sure to be fascinating!
The two trips from Pennsylvania that we're taking showcase both the eerie, abandoned quality of some of its places and the amazing collection of natural attractions that you won't find anywhere else in the country. Let's get started!
Natural Attractions of Pennsylvania
We're going to start this trip at Ringing Rock County Park In Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania. It's a beautiful park with lots of outdoor activities, but the main drawn (and namesake) of this park is the 8-acre field full of rocks. But these are no ordinary rocks.
When these particular stones are struck with a hammer, they ring and chime like bells, all at different frequencies. And scientists still can't explain why. This phenomenon is found nowhere else in the country, and it's definitely worth checking out!
Almost two hours from Ringing Rock is Archibald Pothole State Park. It is just what it sounds like – a giant pothole that is about 38 feet deep. At its widest point, the pothole is 42 feet by 42 feet. It's the largest glacial pothole in the world, and you can observe it from a safe distance.
When you're finished looking down into the earth, check out Seven Tubs Nature Area, which is about 35 minutes away. There are several natural waterslides here, as well as glacial potholes filled with water that are often likened to 'tubs'. There's a 2-mile-long trail that will take you all the way around it and showcase a few other attractions that this park has to offer.
Rickett's Glen State Park is about 34 miles away. It's a quaint little park with ten and RV camping. Did we mention the 22 waterfalls that also call this park home? In addition, you'll find beaches, trails, and fishing opportunities.
Our next stop is the amazing Pine Creek Gorge, which is 67 miles from the entrance of the park. It's often called the "Grand Canyon of Pennslyvania". This gorge is about 50 miles long and, at points, 1,000 feet deep. Unlike the actual Grand Canyon, though, you can drive or hike from the top to the bottom to explore the entire canyon.
When you are finished looking at that amazing site, gear up for a night of camping at Cherry Springs State Park, nearly 50 miles away. While it's a lovely park, the real attraction here is at night. Cherry Springs happens to be one of the best places on the entirety of the East Coast for stargazing. You'll be able to see a multitude of stars and the Milky Way at this popular overnight spot.
In the morning, it's a short 15-minute drive to our last stop, the Coudersport Ice Mines. This location really is the crown jewel of our trip. The water in this cave is unusual because it freezes in the heat of the summer, and melts once the winter comes! You can stand on the fence and look down into this mine to witness this unusual phenomenon.
Pennsylvania is full of strange natural wonders like these – you only have to get out and find them! This trip is a total of 5 hours and 45 minutes long, and spans 287 miles.
Pennsylvania's Creepy and Abandoned Places
With the history that it has, there are bound to be places in Pennsylvania that are reported to be haunted, or are just downright creepy. Here, we're going to some of the most famous or notable ones. The trip spans about 180 miles and 5 hours of drive time.
We'll start at one of the most famous creepy places in the state: Pennhurst State School. This place has been investigated by about every paranormal show that's ever been on television, and for good reason. It was a mental hospital that closed down in 1987. Before that date, abuse and mistreatment of the mentally ill was rampant on these grounds.
So much so that it was the subject of various TV news reports and investigations. These allegations were proven true and let to the closing of the institution. Now, there are tours you can take through this creepy (and possibly haunted) location.
Our next stop has a similarly dark history. The Eastern State Penitentiary is almost an hour away. It's been subject to the same ghost-show treatment as our first stop, and we can clearly see why. It's an old, imposing building. When it was an active prison, it only housed solitary confinement cells. That type of imprisonment is difficult anyway, but a whole prison full of people that are never allowed to socialize?
The amount of anguish felt within these walls is the perfect melting pot for ghost stories and haunted happenings. You can take tours of these grounds as well, but it might be quite a bit more distressing than the previous location – depending on what bothers you, of course.
Our next stop is actually cheerful, for somewhere with a lot of creepy stories. The King George II Inn in Bristol, Pennsylvania is 23 miles away. It's the country's longest continually-operating Inn, and it has housed the likes of George Washington and John Adams, just to name a couple. People have reported a lot of strange happenings here.
If you can, try and stay the night and see if anything unusual happens to you during your stay! In the morning, head about 30 minutes away to Hansel Road. It's probably best to go in the early dusk hours, because this stretch of road is known for out-of-season mist and strange lights on the tree line. Some have even said that these lights look like lanterns bobbing away in front of them, and that they feel compelled to follow.
If you don't get lost on the road, strap in and head on a long morning drive. 2 hours and 30 minutes away is our next stop, which absolutely must be visited. It's one of the eeriest places on this list, if you can believe that.
Centralia is nearly a ghost town. There are less than 12 people in total living there, and most of the buildings and areas have been condemned for a while now. Back in 1962, a fire started in the mines under the town, and that fire is still burning and smoking today. Scientists theorize that it could burn for hundreds of years more – making this place extremely unsettling.
It's not just the lack of people that make the locations on this trip uncomfortable – it's the atmosphere, and hearing ghost stories about them probably doesn't help!
So if you're ever in Pennsylvania, stop at some of these locations and take a look – from the natural to the unnatural, Pennsylvania has it all!