Pennsylvania is an important place when it comes to the history of the United States. It’s where the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were drafted. It’s also home to General Washington’s Headquarters in Valley Forge, and the site of the Battle of Gettysburg which later inspired the Gettysburg address.
But there’s more to Pennsylvania than just history. The state also features a number of recreation areas, watersheds, and scenic rivers.
There are no National Parks in Pennsylvania. However, there are 23 National Park affiliated sites and 6 National Trails in the state.
National Park Affiliated Sites In Pennsylvania
- Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site
- Chesapeake Bay Watershed
- Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor
- Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
- Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site
- Eisenhower National Historic Site
- First State National Historical Park
- Flight 93 National Memorial
- Fort Necessity National Battlefield
- Friendship Hill National Historic Site
- Gettysburg National Military Park
- Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site
- Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site
- Independence National Historical Park
- Johnstown Flood National Memorial
- Lower Delaware National Wild And Scenic River
- Oil Region National Heritage Area
- Rivers Of Steel National Heritage Area
- Schuylkill River Valley National Heritage Area
- Steamtown National Historic Site
- Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial
- Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River
- Valley Forge National Historic Park
Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site
Railroad buffs will love the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site in southwestern Pennsylvania. This site was where the first railroad bypassed the Allegheny Mountains and offers many attractions on its spacious 1249 acres.
Engine House #6 is a replica of an original building for storing steam engines of the time.
It’s also the home of the first railroad tunnel in the US. Men worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, often in harsh conditions, to build the Staple Bend tunnel. This site also features the Lemon House, which included a tavern. It was constructed in the 1830s and has been restored to its original luster.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
If you love the great outdoors, you won’t want to miss the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Included in the 67,000 acres covered by the park is 40 miles of the Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River.
There is also plenty of wildlife to observe, over 100 miles of hiking trails, and colonial villages and structures to explore. The beauty of the Delaware Water Gap has thrilled visitors for hundreds of years
Visit the Millbrook Village to learn what it was like to live in the late 19th century. The Foster-Armstrong House and Nelden-Robert Stonehouse goes back even further, with relics from the 1700s.
Gettysburg National Military Park
Gettysburg was the home of one of the most famous civil war battles – and inspiration for President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Today, you can walk the same battlefield soldiers fought on in 1863 in the Gettysburg National Military Park.
Between April and October, you will find Civil War experts throughout the site, offering historical accounts while demonstrating tools and firepower used in battle.
The Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center immerses you in the era with guided talking tours of the battlefield and a look at the Gettysburg Cyclorama, a 337-foot painting of the battle done by French artist Paul Philippoteaux that brings the battle to life.
Independence National Historical Park
Want to step into a piece of living history? The Independence National Historical Park includes sites that celebrate the birth of America, including Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed by our founding fathers.
In this park you can also see the Liberty Bell, which continues to be a symbol of freedom and the fight for equality. Visit Congress Hall, where the U.S. Congress met between 1789 and 1800.
Art lovers can see over 150 portraits of politicians, military leaders, explorers, and scientists in the Portrait Gallery in the Second Bank of the United States.
Lower Delaware National Wild And Scenic River
The Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River is both picturesque and historical. Washington Crossing Historic Park is where Revolutionary War General George Washington crossed the Delaware River to march to Trenton and re-ignite the fight for America’s freedom.
The canals of this area provided transportation for various goods in the early 19th century. This region is also the home of a yearly Sojourn, a week-long trip down the river by participants in canoes and kayaks.
If you love hiking, boating, fishing, swimming, canoeing, and camping, check out the Tinicum Park, Ralph Stover State Park, or the Tohickon Valley Park.
Schuylkill River Valley National Heritage Area
The Schuylkill River Valley National Heritage Area was designated as a National Heritage Area in 2000 for its cultural historical, and industrial influence. Both the Germans and Dutch settled in this area early on – learn about their influence on the culture in the East Penn Valley of Berks County.
Known as Coal Country, this area helped drive the American Industrial Revolution. The Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site is the home of Hopewell Plantation that produced iron from 1771 to 1883.
You can explore the Blacksmith Shop where nail, hooks, and tools were made, the schoolhouse from 1837, and Office/Store, where employees of the area could shop.
Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River
If you are looking to get away and enjoy some peace and quiet amidst scenic landscapes, look no further than the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River.
This region has more than 14,000 acres where the waters are clear and often, bald eagles can be seen flying overhead. Recreation opportunities include boating, fishing and hiking. You may also want to drive the Hawk’s Nest, nine miles of picturesque highway that overlooks the Delaware River Valley.
Soak in the local culture and history by visiting the country’s oldest existing wire cable bridge or the museum home of western novelist Zane Grey.
Valley Forge National Historic Park
One of the most famous historical sites in this Pennsylvania region is Valley Forge. This famous encampment of the Continental Army offers both beautiful landscapes and historic structures such as the Muhlenberg Brigade Huts, General George Washington’s Headquarters, and the Washington Memorial Chapel.
Throughout the park, you’ll find statues and monuments including the National Memorial Arch to commemorate the Continental Army’s entry into Valley Forge. The Patriots of African Descent Monument stands to honor African American soldiers who fought at Valley Forge.
Because of the vast area Valley Forge covers (3,500 acres), you may want to listen to the audio tour while driving from site to site.
National Trails In Pennsylvania
- Appalachian National Scenic Trail
- Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail
- Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
- North Country National Scenic Trail
- Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
- Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route
National Parks In The Surrounding Area
- New York National Parks
- Rhode Island National Parks
- Delaware National Parks
- Connecticut National Parks
- New Hampshire National Parks
- Maryland National Parks