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Situated in the far north of Pennsylvania near the border with New York, Bradford is a historic city that boomed in the late 19th century with the discovery of oil. It was famously the home of renowned opera singer Marilyn Horne, not to mention the Hall of Fame baseball player Rube Waddell.
With its historic buildings and proximity to Buffalo, Bradford is an attractive destination to rent an RV while exploring McKean County. It’s within easy access of numerous campgrounds, many of which provide direct access to the hiking trails and fishing locations of the region’s recreational reserves.
Book a motorhome rental in Bradford and make the short drive south to the Allegheny National Forest, which sprawls across more than 500,000 acres in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It lies at the heart of Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry, with resources still being extracted from parts of the forest today. But the Allegheny National Forest is also a recreation hub, with everything from fishing and boating to hiking, cycling, snowmobiling, and ATV-ing on offer. Stop in at the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau in Bradford to pick up hiking maps and chat with the friendly staff about what to do.
Just to the southeast of Bradford lies the Elk State Forest, which is named after the herd of elk that were reintroduced here from the Rocky Mountains during the early 20th century. It encompasses almost 200,000 acres of northern hardwood and mixed oak forest, which is traversed by numerous hiking trails. Follow the 30-mile-long Bucktail Path or opt for the shorter Fred Woods Trail that accesses a unique area of large boulders and sweeping vistas.
The Elk State Forest lies adjacent to the Susquehannock State Forest, which is named after the Susquehannock Native American tribe who once inhabited the region. Aside from its trout fishing, hunting, and winter sports, the forest is also a hub for hiking through the Hammersley Wild Area, which is the state’s second largest. It includes more than 10 miles of the Susquehannock Trail System, an 85-mile-long loop trail that offers a challenge to seasoned trekkers.
Pick up your RV rental in Bradford and make the short drive south to the High Pines RV Park, which borders the Allegheny National Forest. You can select from either shaded or open, sunny RV sites, with a children’s playground, mini-golf course, and a game room among the amenities.
Slightly closer to Bradford is the Kinzua East KOA just west of Lewis Run, which can cater to RVs up to 80 feet in length. There’s a swimming pool where you can cool off during the summer months and a shaded pavilion, as well as an on-site snack bar and Wi-Fi availability.
A short drive west of Bradford will take you to the Willow Bay Campground, which lies where the Willow Creek meets the waters of the Allegheny River. There are dozens of RV sites with electric hookups, tables, and campfire rings, as well as shared shower houses and flush toilets.
In Bradford, there’s a Walmart a short drive north of town where you may be able to set up for a night or two with the manager’s permission.
Park your RV rental near Bradford and stroll through the Bradford Downtown Historic District, which includes 136 contributing buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Take note of the Bradford Armory that was built in 1912 for the 16th Infantry of the Pennsylvania National Guard and the Victorian Romanesque Revival-style Bradford Old City Hall that dates to 1897. Also of note is the Rufus Barrett Stone House, a historic townhouse on a triangular plot of land that’s been nicknamed the “Flatiron Building.”
You can head to the Marilyn Horne Museum and Exhibit Center, which is located on the Bradford campus of the University of Pittsburgh. It showcases the life and legacy of the opera singer, Marilyn Horne, in a six-story Art Deco building that dates to 1932. Browse the old photographs, costumes, and musical scores that are on display, together with audio recordings of Horne talking about her life and work.
A short drive south of Bradford takes you to the Penn-Brad Oil Museum in Custer City that preserves the rich history of Pennsylvania’s petroleum industry. It was here at the Bradford Oil Field that 83% of the United States’ total oil output was sourced in 1881. Experience what was the United States’ first billion-dollar oil field and learn about the story behind “Music Mountain” - named for “the unexpected sound of oil, rushing from the Earth.”
Bradford is home to a couple of supermarkets where you can pick up groceries, as well as a handful of fast food restaurants and eateries for those who prefer to dine out. You can fill up your motorhome rental in Bradford at one of the gas stations if needed.
Whether you’re visiting McKean County for its rich oil history or long-distance hiking trails, book an RV in Bradford and start exploring!