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Spotlight: Pocono Mountains

Head for the hills to Pennsylvania’s perennial playground

Spread across more than 2,400 square miles that are packed with tumbling waterfalls, crisp alpine lakes and lush forest landscapes, the entire Pocono Mountains region has served as a natural point of retreat and countryside escape for suburb-weary Pennsylvanians and big-city East Coasters for nearly two centuries.

The first hotel was established here in 1829, and in 1926 the damming of Wallenpaupack Creek (and subsequent creation of scenic Lake Wallenpaupack) spurred on a booming “mountain resort” industry which, by the time the 1970s rolled around, helped the Poconos gain a reputation as the “Honeymoon Capital of the World.”

Today, visitors find themselves exploring the same inviting landscapes dotted with incredible public parks and picturesque historic sites, but a slew of additions have been made in the decades since the region was a popular honeymoon hotspot. More than 35 golf courses now call the Poconos home, as well as three massive state-of-the-art water parks, a variety of annual NASCAR events and nearly a dozen world-class ski resorts.

Pennsylvania Tourism

Pennsylvania Tourism

Fantastic  Fun

The region is mostly broken down into distinct regions, each offering its own unique basket of recreational activities and local attractions.

The Upper Delaware River Region, straddling the New York and Pennsylvania border, is home to vast tracts of pristine wilderness and river rapids that are perfect for white-water rafting adventures. The Lake Region, home to 5,700-acre Lake Wallenpaupack, serves as the heart of the Poconos. The Delaware River Region, lying along the Poconos’ southeastern edge, is home to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the historic town of Milford. The Mountain Region is where skiers and snowboarders will find the region’s highest concentration of ski resorts and ski areas. And the Lehigh River Gorge Region is home to a variety of historic sites and museums, including the alpine town of Jim Thorpe, often referred to as the “Switzerland of America.”

With 261 miles of dedicated hiking trails, more than 100 freshwater lakes and an abundance of pristine rivers and creeks ripe for fishing, kayaking and canoeing, the Poconos is a boon for nature lovers and outdoor recreation hounds. If you’re on the prowl for the quintessential Poconos experience, kick things off at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Home to 27 miles of the Appalachian Trail and 100 miles of scenic roadway, the Delaware Water Gap NRA also provides access to Dingman Falls and Bushkill Falls—two of the Poconos’ most renowned natural attractions. At Dingman Falls visitors can explore a network of trail systems and take in up-close misty views of an idyllic waterfall that plunges 130 feet over smooth sandstone rocks. Bushkill Falls, a short distance south from Dingman, tumbles 100 feet and is often referred to as “the Niagara of Pennsylvania.”

Hickory Run State Park is another popular location for hikers and anglers. Located in the southwestern quadrant of the Poconos, it offers more than 15,000 acres of mountain foothills.

CBK Mountain Adventures

CBK Mountain Adventures

Poconos Past

History buffs will want to stop at a quartet of must-visit museums and sites. Start in the historic town of Jim Thorpe, named after the legendary football hero and Olympic athlete who went to school in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Here, the Asa Packer Mansion Museum offers a chance to tour a Victorian-style house that was built in 1861 and still contains all of its original furniture.

Those travelling with kids will find themselves drawn to a trio of water parks when it’s time for a break from biking trails, museums and waterfall hikes. Great Wolf Lodge, quirkily named H20ooohh! and Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark each offer a variety of slides, pools and activities for visitors of all ages. Camelbeach, for its part, is the largest water park in the state, and also home to a crisscrossing zip line course.

Finally, if you’re a motorsports fan, the Pocono Raceway in Blakeslee hosts annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races and IndyCar Series races through July and August each year.

For More Information

Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau
800-762-6667
www.800poconos.com
Pennsylvania Tourism
800-847-4872
www.visitpa.com