With 22 waterfalls, a National Natural Monument, and over 100 RV- and trailer-friendly campsites, Ricketts Glen State Park should be on every camper's bucket list. The park's roots most recently date back to Robert Bruce Ricketts, an Army colonel who came to control 80,000 acres in the area for its timber. Ricketts' heirs started to preserve the land in the 1920s. It was a 1,200-acre parcel sold to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1942 that started the development of a state park, which opened for recreational use in 1944.
At Ricketts Glen, you'll find the great glens that this park is known for, as well as stunning views of many different waterfalls. You don't want to miss the tallest of them all, Ganoga Falls, which towers at 94 feet high. The park spans 13,000 acres in three Pennsylvania counties, providing incredible vistas and memorable experiences. The 245-acre Lake Jean creates a lovely backdrop for the campground and provides relief during the hot summer months for boaters and swimmers. Fishing and hunting are popular during spring and fall, along with wildlife watching and birding. The park remains open during the winter and is a favorite spot amongst locals who enjoy winter sports.
When you come RV camping to Ricketts Glen, you’ll have plenty of time to explore it all. If you come in the summer, it won’t be too hot for a pleasant hike; summer temps tend to stay in the 70s, making the air perfectly comfortable. The winters can be a bit harsh, but the park's camping cabins allow for fun all year round. Whatever time of year you visit Ricketts Glen State Park, you'll be able to enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer.
Just west of the Poconos, Ricketts Glen State Park is fairly remote, as it is surrounded by pure nature on all sides. However, you are still relatively close to Philadelphia and New York City, which are both about three hours away. Wilkes-Barre and Bloomsburg are the closest larger towns, so you'll only have to drive about 40 minutes to stock up on supplies. I-80, I-180, US-220, and US-11 all surround the park and make for smooth sailing, no matter which direction you're coming from.
Once you get a little closer to the park, roads become a bit curvier and some inclines are present. The park entrance is located on PA-487. There is a mountain near the park entrance that has a steep 18 percent grade that goes on for two miles. This can be hard on larger vehicles. In order to avoid it, come from the north side and you'll have a much easier time getting into the park.
Once inside, driving is easy. You'll find wide, flat roads throughout, with a few curves here and there. The park remains open year-round, but snow and ice are often present during the winter, so be sure to check the local weather forecast and park conditions before heading out.
You should have no problem finding parking places. In fact, there are two designated parking areas specifically for RVs and buses. When the park gets busy during the summertime and on the weekends, a gravel parking lot is opened for overflow parking as well.
The campground that you’ll find within the park has 120 sites for rigs and tents, divided amongst the "Big Loop and "Small Loop." A number of sites at the Big Loop offer lakeside access, while all sites at the Small Loop are pet-friendly.
All RV sites are back-in only, and the size restrictions vary from site to site. As long as your RV is less than 50 feet long, you’ll be able to find a spot that works for you. Sites are all equipped with a picnic table and a fire ring. ADA-compliant sites are also available.
Keep in mind that there are no hookups available at any of the sites. You will have access to water though, along with a dump station and bathrooms with warm showers and flush toilets nearby. These campsites are great for the summertime, as many of them offer shade. During the winter, many of the campsites do not get plowed, so options are more limited. You can call the park office to get information on the conditions before going.
Reservations are available for most sites up to 11 months in advance. The Big Loop is open from April until October, while the Small Loop is open all year long.
If you don't have the chance to make reservations in advance you just might be able to snag a spot for the night. Unreserved sites are open on first-come, first-served basis.
There are three deluxe camping cottages available inside the park. Each one sleeps up to five people, making it the perfect place to bring the whole family for a fun vacation. You’ll feel right at home staying at one of these cottages, as you’ll have two separate bedrooms with bunk beds and a kitchen with an electric range, microwave oven, and refrigerator. You’ll also have electricity and electric heat in case you get cold. If you need to shower, there are shower houses close by. A cottage porch is the perfect spot to relax and take in all of the beautiful nature that surrounds you. The cottages are open year-round and reservations are available up to 11 months in advance. All cottages are ADA-compliant.
If you prefer accommodations that are a bit more rustic, there are ten cabins available. Each cabin is furnished, but you will have to bring your own linens. You can choose from two or three bedrooms, but each cabin comes with a living room and kitchen. Best of all, they all have indoor plumbing and electric heat. One cabin is pet-friendly, and one is ADA-compliant.
If all the sites were taken at Ricketts Glen State Park, or if you're looking to park the rig somewhere that offers hookups, you won't have to go far. There are a number of private RV resorts near the park offering a variety of services like full hookups, seasonal pools, laundry facilities, and outdoor recreation opportunities. If you prefer the rugged over the ritzy, there are a few state parks located nearby as well. Worlds End State Park is located just under 40 minutes to the northwest, while Moon Lake State Recreation Site and Frances Slocum State Park are about 40 minutes to the east.
Hosting a picnic is a great way to spend some quality time with friends and family during your camping trip to Ricketts Glen State Park. Here in the park, there are picnic areas located along Lake Jean that are open for you to use. Not only will you find picnic tables near the beach, but there are also charcoal grills available. Restrooms and hiking trails can also be located nearby. If you have an event planned and wish to use these facilities, you can reserve the picnic pavilion in advance.
One of the main attractions of the park is the 245-acre Lake Jean. These clear waters are perfect for enjoying a morning paddle or an entire afternoon on the motorboat. If you towed your own watercraft behind the Sprinter, you can bring it to the lake and use one of the two boat launches available to get it into the water. Just be sure to have your boat registration on hand. If you didn't bring a boat to Ricketts Glen, you can rent kayaks, canoes, paddleboats, and rowboats from the park during the summer months.
Don't forget to pack your bathing suit along in the Airstream, because hot summer months will have you aching to get in the water. The beach at Ricketts Glen State Park is 600 feet long, giving you ample space to get a feel for the water. You can go swimming here at your own risk anytime between 8 am and sunset. This is the best way to get some sun and simply enjoy the summer. The beach is located on the southeastern side of Lake Jean.
If you came to Ricketts Glen to go horseback riding, there are two trails to enjoy--Cherry Run Trail and Mountain Springs Trail. You can ride 3.5 miles on Mountain Springs Road between the two trails to create one big 12.5-mile loop. So you can choose to do the entire loop, or just do one trail at a time. Either way, you’ll get some peace and quiet on these beautiful trails. Extra vehicle parking for trailers is available near the entrance of the park.
Need to stretch after a long trip in the motorhome? There are 26 miles of trails available at Ricketts Glen State Park, many of which will take you through thick forests to wonderful streams and waterfalls that you won’t want to miss seeing. The trails range in difficulty level, so you’ll be sure to find one that works for you.
The most rewarding trail (which also happens to be the most difficult), is the Falls Trail. This seven-mile loop will take you to both the upper and lower levels of the falls, showcasing 21 of the 22 waterfalls in the park along the way. For an easier trek, check out the Evergreen Trail. This one-mile self-guided trail will lead you through an old-growth forest where you can see trees dating back to pre-Columbus times.
Don’t let the winter weather stop you from exploring the wilderness around Ricketts Glen State Park. When the snow begins to cover the ground, the hiking trails transform into paths for cross-country skiing. This can be an exhilarating way to get out of the campervan, even when it’s cold and wet outside. The whole family will find cross-country skiing a fun way to stretch the legs, get the blood flowing, and explore the Pennsylvania wilderness.
Many people also enjoy going snowmobiling on many of the trails around Ricketts Glen once the snow starts to fall. You’ll definitely need to bring your own machine along if you hope to hit the trails at a fast pace, as the park does not offer rentals. You should also check weather and trail conditions before heading out -- you wouldn’t want to cause damage to the trails by riding without enough snow on the ground.
Another great activity to enjoy during your winter RV camping trip is ice fishing. There are plenty of fish hiding under the ice, and once the lake here at Ricketts Glen State Park freezes over, it’s the perfect place to go to catch them. Just make sure that the ice is thick enough (four inches for one person, seven inches for a small group), carry any required fishing permits, and go at your own risk.
When it snows at Ricketts Glen State Park, the area transforms into a winter wonderland. Usually, there’s plenty of snow, which means there are unlimited resources to build the perfect igloo, snowman, or any other sculpture that you can think of while staying here. Snowball fights and sledding races have also been known to take place on the park grounds. So get out there and have some fun with the whole family.
Ricketts Glen State Park is a stone's throw from the Pocono Mountains, making it a perfect basecamp if you have skis or snowboards stored in your camping trailer. The Poconos has been a mecca in Pennsylvania for skiers, snowboarders, and snow tubers since the 1950s. There are several skiing mountains and ski resorts all within an hour's drive of the park. While the park does not provide equipment rentals, you can rent any supplies you need at local ski shops.