For millions of Americans in the Tri-State area, or those looking to vacation in that direction, the majestic Pocono Mountains are a great place to plan your next camping trip. Within two hours of the metro area, this wonderful destination provides plenty of fun activities for the entire family.
The 6 ways of camping in the Poconos are:
- Tent camping
- Cottages and cabins
- RV camping
- Outback camping
- Summer camps
With over 2,500 square miles, these popular hills and valleys offer an abundance of opportunities for fishing, camping, hiking, skiing, kayaking, and other outdoor activities. Below, we take a closer look at the best ways to camp in the Poconos, so you can get the most out of your trip.
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Where Are The Poconos?
The Poconos are located in Northeastern Pennsylvania and encompass portions of Carbon, Monroe, and Pike counties. Much of the area lies within the New York metropolitan area, which is one of the most populous regions in the United States, giving outdoor recreational access to millions of Americans.
The area can be accessed by Interstate 80, running east and west, the famous “Highway to Adventure,” Pennsylvania Route 903, or Pennsylvania Route 309, just to name a few. The area has plenty of resorts, gambling, camping, racing, and skiing. The area is most notably known for its beautiful scenic landscapes, waterfall hikes, whitewater rafting, and four seasons of endless fun.
6 Ways Of Camping In The Poconos
1. Tent Camping
From solo hikers to large family vacays, there are many places to pitch your tent this summer. There is an abundance of parks that provides camping facilities in the Pocono region.
From state park-designated camp sites to private camping grounds, most offer modern-day conveniences with toileting, showers, water, and electricity. The majority of campground sites, both public and private, also provide picnic tables and fire rings.
If you’re more into an authentic outdoor experience and enjoy roughing it, then there is also a sufficient number of dry camps available without any amenities. The area even features a variety of sites located near the water that can be reserved.
One of the cheapest ways to camp in the Poconos, both the Delaware State Forest and Moon Lake Recreation area offer free camping. You must obtain a permit to do so, but there is no fee for the permit.
For those that enjoy the outdoors but don’t like to live without modern amenities, there are innumerable glamping sites available. You can have all of the accommodations that you’re used to having at home while still enjoying the wilderness. Enjoy the camp life without all the work that comes along with it. The tent and all its luxuries are ready and waiting. All you have to do is show up.
You can expect fire rings and chairs around your campsite. Some glamping sites even provide private showers and restrooms for each individual site so you still have the privacy that you’re accustomed to. Others have public showers and restrooms. Most also include electricity and Wi-Fi so you can still indulge in all of your favorite electronics.
3. Cottages And Cabins
Many places in the Poconos offer fully-equipped cabins and cottages. Whether you are looking for a large family cabin or a little romantic getaway, the possibilities are endless. Many are in rustic settings away from the main campground area and can provide lodging for a few people or for large groups depending on your needs.
Most of the cabins offer residential amenities with full kitchens and bathrooms, cable, and Internet. Like a tiny hotel in the wilderness, you can expect the same appliances. Most have refrigerators, coffee makers, and microwaves. On the outside, they typically offer fire rings, seating, and grills.
Many of the grounds also offer laundry facilities and gift shops, as well as camping recreation such as kayaking, horseshoe pits, and swimming. You can typically find cabins suitable for groups of all sizes nestled away in pristine wilderness areas.
4. RV Camping
Whether you already have your own RV, or you are looking to rent one, both are viable options in this mountainous region. There is no shortage of RV parks in the neighborhood. Whether you’re staying for a short while or long term, year-round sites are available. The majority offer 50-amp electric, water, sewer, and Wi-Fi.
There are plenty of pull-thru campsites up for grabs for those that have bigger rigs. Many of the parks also feature stores, onsite activities, game rooms, and water recreation activities.
Maybe you’d rather do a little boondocking in the area? Well, that’s an option too. There’s nothing stopping you from roughing it in the old RV for a little more off-the-grid solitude!
If you want to ditch the luxury of developed campgrounds, just make sure you have all the essential supplies of food, water, and toileting necessities. Whether it’s trailheads or the National Forest, there are plenty of places for permissible boondocking in the area.
5. Outback Camping
With 70,000 acres of wilderness, the sky’s the limit. There are plenty of off-grid locations in the Poconos to pitch your tent. Whether you’re hiking or biking the trails, paddling the rivers, or exploring the national forest, you won’t be disappointed. There are a variety of wonderfully scenic views, sandy beaches, waterfalls, and rugged backcountry to choose from.
Just make sure you’re up for the challenge, and remember to tread lightly. Be sure to leave it the way you found it, and pack out all of your garbage. There are a ton of parks in the area with hundreds of miles of trails to explore, and a good majority of them provide shelters and lean-tos along the way. Just remember to make your reservation before you head out.
Are you free-spirited, spontaneous, and adventurous? Try outlanding, which is similar to boondocking, but by way of an off-road vehicle instead of an RV. It’s a little more rugged since cooking, cleaning, and toileting this way are more rustic than in RV life. But it has all the same exploration options, nonetheless. No sites, no hookups, no neighbors. Just you, your supplies, and your vehicle.
6. Summer Camps
There are numerous summer camps in the Poconos to choose from designedfor all types of people, young and old alike. There are sleep-away summer camps for kids, adventure camps, Christian summer camps, the International Sports Training Camp, and lakeside couples’ retreats. If you and your kids enjoy the outdoor life in the summer, then try one of the many family adventure camps that are available.
7 Best Places To Camp In The Poconos
1. Blue Mountain Resort – Palmerton, PA
Open May Through October
Filled with outdoor adventure, you can camp, glamp, or RV. With secluded campsites, you’ll be greeted at the entrance where you and all your belongings will be packed in via ATV. There are loads of fun outdoor activities including hiking, biking, and fishing.
For those that like to play in the wilderness, there’s outdoor laser tag, zip lines, and an aerial park. There’s also a variety of fitness classes including yoga and paddle-boarding. The resort also offers scenic lift rides and a disc golf course. There’s a camp store with basic items in case you forget anything, and souvenirs to help you remember your experience.
2. Driftstone Campground – Mount Bethel, PA
Open May Through October
If you’d like to try camping on the river, here’s your chance. Campsites are available for tents, pop-ups, trailers, and motor-homes. The camp features two bathhouses with toilets, hot and cold water, and free showers. There’s also a laundry room available.
There is a recreation hall with a game room that offers billiards, air hockey, video games, outdoor chess and checkers, and ping pong tables. Depending on the time of year you visit, you may also have the option of arts and crafts and dancing.
There’s a store that has basic camping amenities including propane and worms for fishing. Driftstone has a number of outdoor activities including fishing, boating, swimming, volleyball, softball, basketball, horseshoe pits, bocce ball, and a playground for the little ones.
3. Tobyhanna State Park – Tobyhanna, PA
Open April Through October
For those that love hiking day trips, Tobyhanna is one of the most renowned in the area. With over 10 miles of trails for hiking, biking, skiing, or snowmobiling, you’re sure to enjoy this challenging and rewarding experience.
After a long day’s hike, return to your campsite for a relaxing evening. With over 135 sites to choose from and an abundance of lakeside sites, you’re sure to find one that suits your needs. Tobyhanna offers bathrooms, showers, and water spigots centrally located throughout the park. There’s a playground for the kids and a dump station for the RVers.
There’s a sand beach for swimmers, kayakers, and canoers that opens up into a 170-acre lake. Don’t have a canoe or kayak? No problem! There’s a rental station available.
4. Keen Lake Camping Resort – Waymart, PA
Open April Through October
There’s nothing better than camping with all the amenities of home, including a bed! This resort is a family-owned private glamping establishment on the shores of Keen Lake.In addition to the bed, you get electricity and a waterfront view. The campgrounds offer swimming, kayaking, and paddle boarding, just to name a few activities.
You can explore over 90 acres of water, relax at the pool, or join in on a volleyball game. There’s plenty of fishing, too, as well as a playground for the kiddos, shuffleboard, and horseshoes. There’s even a game room, ceramic classes, and movie nights.
Keen Lake has a campground store and gift shop, a snack bar, communal fire ring, laundromat and bathhouses, campground Wi-Fi, and even an ATM machine. Don’t want to glamp? That’s okay. There are options for tent sites and RVs, lakefront cottages and rental homes.
There are also a variety of cottages available for rent. You’ll have to check out their website for the rates. If you enjoy the glamping experience, then this is the place to enjoy all the luxuries you could possibly imagine.
5. Otter Lake Camp Resort – East Stroudsburg, PA
Otter Lake is the premier camping destination with over 300 acres of wilderness and a 60-acre lake. For those that like to RV in style, Otter Lake provides an abundance of amenities, activities, and themed events for patrons of all ages. From swimming and sports to arts and crafts, you’ll never run out of things to do.
You can fish on the lake without a license, or hang out in the sauna. A game room, gift shop, and laundry facilities are available. While there are pull-through RV sites, you’re welcome to pitch a tent as well. All sites include at least 30-amp electric, cable, and Wi-Fi. Sewer and 50-amp sites are also available, as well as lakefront options.
6. Camp Taylor Campground – Columbia, NJ
Open April Through October
Family-owned since 1964, Camp Taylor offers 150 sites on over 400 acres. From primitive sites and RV grounds to cabins, Camp Taylor has several opportunities with direct access to the Delaware Water Gap and the AppalachianTrail. This is a top-notch location for hikers and backpackers.
While there are dry sites available, Camp Taylor also offers water and electricity. Each site has a table, trash can, and fire pit. Bathrooms provide flush toilets and hot showers, and there’s a dump station available for RVs.
There’s a two-acre lake for swimming, canoeing, or kayaking, a playground and recreation field, a camp store with propane and firewood, and miniature golf, volleyball, horseshoes, and cornhole for entertainment.
7. Promised Land State Park – Pike, PA
Located 1,800 feet above sea level on the Pocono Plateau, Promised Land State Park encompasses about 3,000 acres and is surrounded by an additional 12,000+ acres of the Delaware State Forest. The park offers fishing, boating, kayaking or canoeing, swimming, and hunting. A plethora of hiking trails and biking paths both paved and unpaved offer further exploration and adventure options.
Not only does Promised Land offer the typical tent, RV, and cabin sites, but there are also deluxe cottages, yurts, trail shelters for backpackers, and group campsites for those that camp in numbers. The park features picnic tables and playgrounds, bathhouses and restrooms, and a gift shop.
Camping In The Poconos – Features And Amenities
Rest assured, you’ll never run out of things to do or places to go in the Poconos. In addition to all the camping and outdoor exploration, there are an abundance of additional activities in the area that you may want to plan your trip around.
Biking And Hiking
There are over 261 miles of hiking and biking trails in the Pocono Mountains. Enjoy the smooth trails at Lehigh Gorge State Park, or try the mountain biking track along Lehigh Canal.
The Pocono Biking rail-trail offers hikers and bikers alike an ecosystem of interconnected trails that travel through Lehigh Gorge, Jim Thorpe, and White Haven. Don’t forget your camera, and enjoy all the waterfalls, beaches, mountain views, and wildlife.
White Water Rafting
Have four to five hours to spare? Brave the Dam Release, a 12-mile, Class II and III white water rafting trip. Enjoy a fun and wild ride through 17 sets of rapids. If you need something a little more mellow for the little ones, then try the milder Class I and II eight-mile journey for ages four and up that the whole family can enjoy.
Better yet, experience a nighttime thrill like no other, and travel an eight-mile journey lit by the light of the moon, fireflies, and glow sticks. Upon your return, you’ll enjoy a night around the fire with a refreshing glass of wine as you roast marshmallows for some tasty s’mores.
Canoeing And Kayaking
Enjoy a guided tour along the Lehigh River without the whitewater rapids. With a river guide to lead you on your journey, you’ll independently navigate the river in an inflatable kayak, catching eddies and riding waves.
Embark on Lander’s River Trips that explore the Delaware River Valley, or take part in a Shawnee River Trip and traverse the river at your own pace with a kayak or canoe. You can even enjoy a leisurely day of paddle-boarding at Lake Wallenpaupack.
There are loads of water recreational opportunities to choose from in the vicinity. Feel free to explore the available options around your chosen campsite. There are over 122 miles of river waiting to be explored and an abundance of magnificent lakes in many of the campgrounds.
Who doesn’t love a good game of paintball? Skirmish Paintball is the premiere paintball facility in the area. For a fee, you can enjoy over 50 paintball maps. There’s no experience required, and they provide all the gear. If you’re really an adrenaline junkie, you can package your paintball experience with your whitewater rafting trip for a day of “Paddles & Battles.”
If you want to give the Poconos a go during the winter months, you can always try your hand at skiing. There are also a ton of places that offer snow tubing and snowboarding, snowmobiling, ice skating, and snowshoeing.
There are several camp resorts throughout the region that offer opportunities for a winter adventure. Just be sure to do your research. Many of the camping grounds are closed during the winter months, so make your reservation at one that’s open year-round. There are a couple on the list above to get you started.
There are so many things to do in the Poconos that you’ll never be able to fit it all into one trip, and there’s plenty of fun and adventure for everyone, regardless of your age or camping style. Whether you’re going solo, with the whole family crew, or somewhere in between, the best of your outdoor camping adventures awaits.
Camping In The Poconos – Important Things To Know
As mentioned, many of the campgrounds, as well as the activities, are closed during the winter. But where one door closes, another opens, and there are just as many outdoor winter activities as there are summer ones.
Camping Permits And Reservations
You should also be aware that many of the parks, particularly state parks and forests, require camping permits to frequent their campgrounds. There is no fee to get one. You simply have to apply.
If you plan on primitive camping, then be sure to stay 200 feet from any waterway, and at least 25 feet from the nearest trail. If you are in a state park, you must also make a reservation for a trail shelter.
Rules And Regulations
Each campground will have its own set of rules, so be sure to review them to be aware of what they are. Anyone familiar with campgrounds knows there are usually quiet hours, rules on collecting firewood, alcoholic beverages, and whatnot. Also check your campground’s policies if you’re reserving a cottage or cabin, since many of them require visitors to bring their own linen and pillows.
The altitude is high in the Poconos, so it’s a good idea topack a jacket regardless of which season you plan your excursion. Even during the heat of summer, the nighttime temps still drop pretty low. It’s also a good idea to let someone know where you will be because cell service is rather poor throughout the entire area, so don’t expect your phones to work too well.
No matter when you’re hiking or camping, it’s always a good idea to pack layers. This is even more true in the Poconos. On average, there’s usually a 20-degree difference between the highs and lows for any given day. It’s probably a good idea to pack some wet weather gear, as well. The area averages 49 inches of rain each year and 63 inches of snow.
Camping In The Poconos – Best Time To Visit
Spring And Summer
Spring kicks off the busy season, so most of the camps are open from April through October. June, July, and August have the most pleasant weather months out of the year with July being the hottest. While everyone else is enduring hot summer heat, the Poconos averages just under 80 degrees during July, and they rarely, if ever, see temps in the 90s.
Autumn And Winter
If you’re into winter snow, you can expect to find it six months out of the year, which is why a good majority of the parks close between October and March. You’ll find the most snow on the ground between January and March. The best time to visit correlates with your preferred temperatures and outdoor activities.
The Poconos region is an awesome place to plan an extended trip. It provides just about every outdoor activity you can imagine. There’s no way to squeeze it all into just a few short days, so plan for as many as you can get away and soak up as much of the fun and adventure that you can handle.