Situated in the Blue Mountain Range, Caledonia State Park is a must-see for RVers traveling through Pennsylvania. Before the land was destined to become a state park, the area saw years of historically important events. In the 1830s, a charcoal ironworks was constructed by the famously ethical politician, Thaddeus Stevens. During this time the area was utilized as a stop along the Underground Railroad. Because of this, Caledonia State Park is now recognized as a Path of Freedom Site. Since then, the ironworks was demolished by confederates, rebuilt, converted into an amusement park, and eventually sold to the state of Pennslyvania.
The park we know and love today was constructed with the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps, and many of the original buildings remain to this day. Caledonia State Park features over 1,000 acres of unspoiled nature and is surrounded by four other state parks and 84,000 acres of state forest. With so much space, visitors can enjoy endless amounts of outdoor recreation and relaxation during their stay.
After you set up camp, you can trek over ten miles of trail, including part of the legendary Appalachian Trail. Anglers can cast out in one of the streams that cut through the park, and the kids will love splashing around in the swimming pool during hot summer days. Overnight guests can park the rig one of the two park campgrounds, both of which offer primitive, electric, and full hookup sites.
Although Caledonia State Park is surrounded by thick forests in all directions, its also close to major routes like US-30, US-15, and I-81. This makes navigating the mountainous landscape fairly easy, even for those driving big rigs or hauling a trailer. The park is located halfway between Chambersburg and Gettysburg and makes for a great day trip or a basecamp to explore the surrounding area.
The park entrance is located off of US-30, and Pine Grove Road is the main park road that will take you all the major attractions, including the campgrounds, historical monuments, and various trailheads. This road is well maintained but features gradual inclines and deep curves, so those maneuvering large vehicles should take it slow.
With so much wilderness in the area, you can use Caledonia as your base camp to explore the surrounding state parks and forests, including Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Mont Alto State Park, and Michaux State Forest, all of which are located less than 30 minutes from the park.
Parking lots are plentiful and can be found near the park office, trailheads, and in the campgrounds. During the peak summer months lots fill up quickly, so you may want to arrive early to ensure that you can find a spot. Those camping overnight will have their own private parking spot at their campsite.
The site of a pivotal Civil War battle, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is just one hour from Hershey’s Chocolate World and Amish Country, while Washington DC is two hours away. Stay at the leafy Gettysburg/Battlefield KOA and join their tour shuttle to visit other local attractions. Bring rigs up to 85 feet long, and you can stay at either shady water and electric sites, or deluxe patio sites featuring full hookups, up to 50-amp service, patio furniture, and campfires. Make your stay easier with the Kamping Kitchen, propane, and firewood on-site. Rent a bike, play miniature golf, or swim in the pool to keep fit. Wi-Fi and cable television are also available.
Chinquapin Hill Campground is the larger of the two at Caledonia State Park, with over 100 campsites available for tents and RVs. The campground is equipped with 17 full hookup sites, two of which are ADA-accessible, six electric hookup sites, and 88 basic sites with no hookups. Length restrictions vary by site, with the maximum length allowance being 60 feet. Each site is equipped with a picnic table, fire ring, and lantern post, and a dump station, water spigots, and restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers are all located within the campground. There are also numerous hiking trails, a playground, and a swimming pool nearby. The campground remains open from the end of March through December, and reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance. Guests should note that no pets are allowed at the Chinquapin Hill Campground.
Hosack Run Campground is the smaller of the two campgrounds at Caledonia State Park and is equipped with 50 campsites for tents and RVs. Sixteen of the sites offer full hookups, 20 offer electric hookups, one of which is ADA-accessible, and the 14 remaining sites are basic with no hookups. Site lengths vary, but the maximum length allowed is 60 feet. Each site is outfitted with a picnic table, lantern post, and fire ring, and a dump station, a playground, water spigots, and restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers are located on-site. This is a pet-friendly campground, and a dog walking area is located on the south side of the campground. Hosack Run Campground is from the end of March through December, and reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
If you're camping with a group and want to get out of the RV for a night or two, consider renting the Caledonia Lodge. This two-story house can sleep up to ten people and is outfitted with modern conveniences like indoor plumbing, electricity, and centralized heat. Guests to the lodge will find a modern kitchen, three bedrooms, one and a half baths, and a closed-in porch. There is also a fire ring and picnic table located just outside. Guests should bring their own cooking and eating utensils, as they are no longer provided at the lodge. The Caledonia Lodge is available to rent year-round, and reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
Those camping with a large group can pitch a tent in one of five rustic organized group tenting sites. The sites can each accommodate up to 20 people and are outfitted with picnic tables and fire rings. Vault toilets can also be found nearby. Organized group tenting is available from late March through October, and reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
If you didn't have any luck finding a place to park the RV overnight at Caledonia State Park, there are numerous alternative options in the surrounding area. The closest alternative is Pine Grove Furnace State Park, just over 20 minutes to the northeast of the park. Here, overnight guests will find 68 RV-friendly sites, 46 of which offer electric hookups. Cowans Gap State Park is under an hour's drive and is located to the northwest of the park, and their quiet campground is outfitted with over 100 electrical sites for RVers. If you're looking for full hookups, Gifford Pinchot State Park is located about an hour to the northeast of the park and is equipped with nearly 300 RV sites. Here, guests will have the option to camp with full hookups, electric hookups, or no hookups at all.
An RV trip to Calendonia State Park wouldn't be complete without lacing up your hiking boots and hitting the trails for an afternoon. Over ten miles of trails traverse the park and range in length and difficulty, so whether you're a beginner or an experienced hiker, you're sure to find a trail right for you. Part of the Appalachian Trail even crosses through the park, and you can hike two miles of it within the park to get a taste of how this 2,186-mile trail feels. If you'd like to experience more of the Appalachian Trail, you can take an overnight hike to the nearby Pine Grove Furnace State Park. For an easier route, check out the Thaddeus Historical Trail. This self-guided trail is just under a mile in length and will lead you past the old blacksmith shop, two dams, the old mill falls, and more.
Once you're ready for a break from the trails, head to one of the park's picnic tables for a scenic lunch. Tables can be found along the Conococheague Creek shaded by towering oak and pine trees. There are also charcoal grills available for use, and potable water and restrooms can be found nearby. If you're expecting a crowd, Caledonia State Park offers two rustic style picnic pavilions equipped with grills and tables. For a more private picnicking experience, head back to camp and enjoy your meal right outside the pop-up at your own table.
With two streams running through the park, anglers will have their choice of shoreline to cast out from. Both Conococheague and Rocky Mountain Creek are teeming with local fish species, and common catches include native, brown, and rainbow trout, along with some warm water game fish. If you're hoping to reel in some dinner during your trip, be sure you have a Pennsylvania fishing license along with you in the Airstream, or head to the park office to purchase one.
Those interested in hunting, trapping, and dog training can utilize over 700 acres of park land to do just that. Michaux State Forest also allows hunting, so if you're not having any luck at Caledonia State Park, head on over to the neighboring land. During established seasons, you can take aim at turkey, squirrel, rabbit, and deer, just leave the woodchucks alone as the hunting of these critters is prohibited. Visitors should also note that dog training is only allowed from September through March.
Don't forget to pack a bathing suit in the campervan, because summers in southern Pennsylvania can get hot, with the mercury often climbing into the 80s during July and August. Luckily, Caledonia State Park is equipped with a large, ADA-accessible pool. There is even a waterslide and a snack bar located on-site! The pool is conveniently located just outside of Chinquapin Campground, so you won't have to walk too far to go for a dip.
Throughout the summer months, Caledonia State Park offers visitors a variety of educational programs. These programs are family-friendly and are a great opportunity to get the kids out of the motorhome and more interested in nature. Programs could include nature and history talks, guided hikes, or tours of the blacksmith shop. There is also a discovery center and museum located on-site where you can learn more about fire safety or peruse their gift shop for souvenirs.
To experience a unique summer program offered at Caledonia State Park, head to the Cathedral in the Pines. This non-denominational Sunday school takes place every Sunday from May through August. All are welcome to attend, and anyone can appreciate the historical aspect of the cathedral, as it has been in operation since 1917. The Cathedral is located across US-30 in Michaux State Forest, just a few minutes away from the park.
During the peak months of summer, visitors to Caledonia State Park can spend an evening being entertained at the Totem Pole Playhouse. Both the young and the young at heart will appreciate the performance they see at this stock theatre, located just across US-30 in Michaux State Forest. You can choose to hike over to the theater via Trolley Trail or take the Sprinter and park in the parking lot near the golf course. Go online to see what's showing during your stay.