Our visit to Bald Eagle State Park in Howard, Pa., was our first stop on a 16-day tour around Pennsylvania this summer. Located right off of Interstate 80 in central Pennsylvania, Bald Eagle is located in the southern end of the Pennsylvania Wilds but offers easy access for touring the Happy Valley and State College area.
Typically when we visit the State College area we stay at one of our favorite state parks, Black Moshannon State Park, but for this trip we had heard good things about Bald Eagle State Park so we decided to check it out. Our main purpose for this stop was to see the fireworks at The Central PA 4th Fest, which we had gone to see about eight years ago when Sweetpea was just a baby. Unfortunately inclement weather caused the fireworks to be less than impressive this year due to low hanging smoke and clouds. Even so, the 45-minute all amateur display is regarded as one of the nation’s best fireworks displays and we will go back again in hopes to see them on another 4th of July!
Campground: Bald Eagle State Park has done an excellent job designing its campground. Most, if not all, of the sites are well spaced and in many sites there is privacy vegetation. Even the full sun sites (like ours) were backed into thick brush so when we were sitting at our campfire we could not see either neighboring campsite. I would suggest picking a site on the outside of the loops as those sites tended to be more private. If you like shade there are only a handful of sites that offer any real shade since most of the trees in the campground area are still pretty young. Across from us we noticed that the park had recently added some full hook-up sites.
Bathrooms: This is one area of the campground that could use some improvements. The bathrooms were moderately clean, showers were hot, and everything worked but a refresh of the bathrooms would be a welcome addition to Bald Eagle. Our main complaint is that both showers drained into a single floor drain in the handicapped-accessible shower. This meant that if you were in the handicapped-accessible shower and someone was in the other shower, the other water was draining into your stall and you ended up standing in 2-3 inches of water.
Amenities: This might sound odd but our favorite practical amenity was the dish washing station. 🙂 It was AWESOME! it was just the right size, had a large area to put dirty/clean dishes, and it had a foot pedal to turn the water on and off. (First time I’ve seen our kiddos racing to do dishes!)
Other things available at the campground:
- Playground (but it was NOT in the campground area)
- Large lake
- Boat rental
- Beach with bathhouse
- Hiking trails
- Environmental Learning Center (including DiscoverE backpacks you can borrow)
- Fishing Pier
- The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle
Touring: In addition to going to The Central PA 4th Fest we also did some other touring in the area. On our way to Bald Eagle we stopped at Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield, Pa., where we had some awesome burgers. No, I did not attempt any of the massive burger challenges, but we had a yummy meal.
We also spent a day touring Bald Eagle State Forest with the help of Purple Lizard Maps. For more about why you MUST check out these maps, read my recent post here. As we were exploring the state forest, we discovered a PA state fish hatchery and since it was near feeding time the worker let the kiddos toss food to the fish–which they thought was pretty cool.
If we ever get the chance to come back to Bald Eagle State Park, the park and surrounding state forest abound with additional opportunities for outdoor adventures.
Dates of stay: July 2-5, 2016
Cost: $28.30 per night