Don’t let the chill of winter have you burrito-bound in your house this season. Get outside and experience thrilling and adventurous winter activities in PA’s greater-than-great state and national parks.
1. Washington Crossing Historic Park
Bundle up and watch history come alive at Washington Crossing Historic Park on Dec. 10 and Christmas Day with reenactments of George Washington’s daring Christmas night crossing of the Delaware River in 1776. The event features several hundred reenactors in full Continental military dress listen to Washington’s rousing speech before they row across the river in Durham boats. Visit the park throughout the winter for weekly Healthy Hikes, cross-country skiing (weather permitting), and a fly-tying class in February. Be sure to stop in the Visitor Center before or after a day of frost-filled adventures to enjoy the park’s introductory film, exhibit gallery, and gift shop.
2. Little Buffalo State Park
Little Buffalo State Park is all aglow on select nights Dec. 17-23 during their annual Light Up Little Buffalo! Enjoy thousands of lights along a quarter mile trail, meet Santa, and support the local 4H club with purchases of delicious hot chocolate and cookies. In the spirit of the season, consider making a donation to restore the park’s historic train car and support Little Buffalo State Park’s various programs and activities. Throughout the winter season, visit the park to enjoy hikes along its many trails, and cross-country skiing and ice skating (weather permitting). Book their heated 12-person, ADA-accessible lodge to enjoy a warm and wonderful night in the park.
3. Beltzville State Park
Kick off the New Year on the right foot with an invigorating 3.5-mile hike to the tower on top of the Beltzville State Park dam during the annual First Day Hike. Your reward is a super, scenic view of the 949-acre Beltzville Lake in winter! Stocked with warm-water and cold-water game fish and panfish including trout, bass, walleye, and perch, the lake has become a go-to destination for anglers seeking an epic ice fishing experience. When not casting a line, the park’s many open, rolling fields and nine miles of trails are perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing adventures.
4. Ohiopyle State Park
Greet the new year with an invigorating, one-mile First Day Hike (or First Day Snowshoe if there’s enough snow!) at Ohiopyle State Park. Not only is this the first hike of the year, but also the first of the 2024 Ohiopyle Trailjourn challenge to hike and bike the park’s 30+ trails in 2024, with four winter hikes planned for February and March. More winter fun can be found at the park’s Sugarloaf Recreational Area with its sledding hill and trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling, or simply embrace the crisp air and enjoy the gorgeous views from the must-visit park’s Visitor Center.
5. Moraine State Park
“Say Hello!” to 2024 with an invigorating two-mile First Day Hike along Moraine State Park‘s Pleasant Valley Trail. Winding past the sled riding hill and joining the Sunken Garden Trail with beautiful views of Lake Arthur, you’ll trek through snowy woods (weather permitting) on this easy hiking trail. Then, on Feb. 3, celebrate the wonder of winter during Winterfest with snowy and cold weather activities, demonstrations, entertainment, and vendors. All winter long, enjoy groomed cross-country ski trails, sledding, and snowmobiling (conditions permitting). You can even make it a multi-day adventure in this winter wonderland by booking one of their heated modern cabins to enjoy a warm and wonderful night in the park.
6. Chapman State Park
Kick off the New Year and see how much wildlife you can spot during the First Day Hike at Chapman State Park. Hint: resident otters like to slide down the snowy dam breast for a little ice fishing! You’ll find a veritable cornucopia of fun-filled winter activities on Feb. 3 during Winterfest with sled races, sled dogs, dog weight pulls, fat bike trail riding, ice fishing, a polar bear plunge, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing, along with food and craft vendors. Throughout winter, the park is a known hotspot for snowmobiling and boasts an exceptional sled riding hill complete with warming hut, along with groomed cross country skiing trails, ice skating, and ice fishing.
7. Greenwood Furnace State Park
Dive (literally) into Greenwood Furnace State Park during their annual Snowfest Polar Plunge on Jan. 20 during which the brave bolt in and out of the lake for charity. There’s no shortage of winter fun during Snowfest with the event also featuring a trail run, ice skating, broomball, snowshoeing, a visit with Smokey Bear, live music, a bonfire on the beach, and educational programs indoors and out. The snowy fun continues all winter long with ice fishing, ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and snowmobiling. Best yet, there are heated restrooms and Pavilion #3 is converted into a warming hut during the winter months, complete with wood-burning stove!
8. Hills Creek
Join in on the family fun at Hills Creek State Park during its annual Winterfest on Jan. 20. Try your hand (and feet!) at cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating with a limited number of skis, snowshoes, and skates available. Enjoy guided hikes and snowshoe excursions, sledding, kids’ crafts for the little ones, and free hot chocolate and hot dogs. Visit this winter wonderland all season long where you can go ice skating on the lake or ice fishing for yellow perch, bluegill, and walleye, cross-country ski, and sled when there’s adequate snow cover. Book one of their heated modern cabins to enjoy a warm and wonderful night in the park.
9. Black Moshannon
Try your hand at some frosty fun at Black Moshannon State Park‘s annual “Fun in the Snow at Black Mo” on Jan. 27, with ice skating, cross-country skiing, broom ball, ice mini golf, curling, sledding, and snowshoeing. The fun continues throughout the entire winter season with ice skating, multiple trails open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and a smaller number of snowmobiling trails that link to a larger network on state forestland. Need some gear? No worries! Their free winter equipment (ice fishing gear, ice skates, and cross-country skis) loaner program has you covered! Book one of their modern cabins to enjoy a winter night or two in this winter wonderland.
10. Lehigh Gorge/Nescopeck/Hickory Run State Parks
Mark your calendars for Nescopeck State Park’s WinterFest on Feb. 1 featuring sled dogs and a variety of fun-filled winter and snow-related events. Then, snowmobile your way through a 15-mile stretch of the scenic Lehigh Gorge Trail while exploring Lehigh Gorge State Park. Near the west side of the Lehigh River, go cross-country skiing between White Haven and Glen Onoko to catch the area’s stunning views. At the nearby Nescopeck and Hickory Run state parks, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and environmental education programming are all on tap for fun in these winter wonderlands!
11. Prince Gallitzin State Park
For a royally good time, join fellow winter lovers at Prince Gallitzin State Park‘s Winter Blast on Feb. 10. Along with the 5k Fun Run/Walk, the event features guided winter nature hikes, ice skating, sledding, cross-country skiing, broomball, disc golf, geocaching, and snowmobile and ice fishing demos. All winter long enjoy the park’s two excellent sledding hills and on-land ice skating rink. Bring your own equipment or pack lightly to take advantage of the free loaner program for cross country skis, snowshoes, sleds, and ice fishing gear. The park offers 20 miles of marked snowmobile trails, seven miles of cross-country skiing trails, and ice fishing on the 1,635-acre Glendale Lake.
12. Presque Isle State Park
Experience the natural wonders of Presque Isle State Park during the winter months when impressive dunes formed by ice from Lake Erie accumulates onshore and freezes creating a stunning display of nature’s power and winter’s beauty. Popular winter activities at the park include cross-country skiing, ice fishing, snowshoeing, and ice skating. See how many animal footprints you can spot and identify as you walk along the beach, and then try to see where they lead.
13. Ricketts Glen State Park
The waterfalls at Ricketts Glen State Park are simply stunning any time of year, but especially in winter when the cascading waters are frozen in place, glittering and shimmering in the sun. Due to icy conditions, all or a portion of the Falls Trail may be closed to all but the most experienced ice climbers and hikers who are equipped with the required gear and safety equipment (i.e., actual crampons, ice axe, and rope). Never fear! The park offers plenty of other fun winter activities including snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Book one of their modern cabins to enjoy a night or more in this winter wonderland.
14. Bald Eagle State Park
Fully embrace PA snow days at Bald Eagle State Park where owls and bald eagles court and nest throughout the season and there are seemingly endless winter activities when Mother Nature graces the park with a blanket of snow. Sled down the very popular Sled Hill with its 1,320-foot run or go cross-country skiing on the park’s many trails with about seven miles of ungroomed trails available with proper snow conditions. Enjoy ice skating and ice fishing on the lake when adequately frozen.
The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle offers a discounted rate during the winter months and makes for a perfect stay no matter the reason. Thrill-seekers can take advantage of the inn’s complementary snowshoes and cross-country skis, while those seeking a more relaxing stay and escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life can cozy up next to the fireplace with some hot cocoa and a good book and great views of the surrounding woodlands and lake!
To find even more winter fun in Pennsylvania, check out the visitPA website. If you are interested in finding more winter activities in our state parks, visit the DCNR Story Map for more ideas. Follow us on Facebook, X, Pinterest and Instagram to stay up-to-date on even more great ideas and places to visit around our state.