We have heard people talk about Promised Land State Park as one of the “crown jewels” in the Pennsylvania State Park system, so our trip through the Pennsylvania Poconos this summer was the perfect opportunity to check it out. Situated in the Delaware State Forest and just a short distance off of Interstate 84, it is conveniently located near a variety of outdoor and tourist attractions.
Campground: Selecting a campsite at Promised Land State Park is a bit overwhelming because there are multiple campground areas to choose from: Pickerel Point, Lower Lake (which is actually three campground areas), Deerfield, and Pines.
- Deerfield is a rustic loop that has lots of trees, tight turns, and the sites appeared to be more sloped.
- Pines is also a rustic campground but we did not have time to drive through it.
- Lower Lake has three camping areas, of which many are very nice and private. This was a surprise because when I first looked at the map and saw rows of sites I thought, “Oh my, that’s a parking lot,” but in reality there were nice sites. The Beechwood area has many sites that are asphalt and almost all of the sites are full shade. The only downside is that many of these sites were very short with camping pads in the range of 30-35 feet. Many tow vehicles that I saw in the loop were parked at an angle next to their campers and almost none were parked end-to-end with a camper. The Northwoods area has some pull-throughs but all of sites were gravel and appeared to be somewhat un-level. The Rhododendron area was much like the Beechwood area.
We stayed in Pickerel Point. The sites were a nice size with minimal slope on most. There was privacy vegetation at many sites, but some of the sites had a bit of an “unkept” appearance and were not as manicured as we’ve seen at other state parks. Pickerel Point offers a large number of “walk-in” tent sites that were very popular with tenters and even some sites that were full hook up. Site 151 would be my full hook-up choice since it was very private and appeared level with easy access in and out. I would not reserve sites 133 or 134 since they had a good deal of site slope and, more importantly, the sewage hook-up was running UPHILL from the site pad.
Pickerel Point does not have a dump station in the loop. So when we left, we had to drive across to the Deerfield loop, but because of the dump station’s location, that meant you then had to drive through the entire loop to get back out. Not the most convenient design.
Bathrooms: Kristin and I both agree that these were some of the cleanest and most well thought out bathrooms that we have seen in a state park (anywhere)! The bathrooms appeared to have been remodeled relatively recently, and the staff was meticulous in maintaining them (we even saw staff cleaning spider webs from the building’s eves outside). A few things that were particularly nice about these bathrooms:
- Showers had adjustable temperature and on/off knobs–no push button with only a single temperature.
- The handicap-accessible and family shower had a shower head about waist high that was perfect for showering our young kiddos.
- Water pressure was sufficient but did not sting like some park showers.
The showerhouse also offered a dish-washing station and laundry facilities that were very clean and reasonably priced.
Amenities: In the Pickerel Point campground you have access to a campers beach, boat rental and launch area, as well as an amphitheater.
Elsewhere in the park you will find:
- Masker Museum (which houses a great CCC display as well as a local wildlife exhibit)
- Environmental education programs such as day camps and the DiscoverE backpack rentals. We borrowed the birding and tree backpacks, both of which were filled to the brim with books and related activities.
- Hiking trails (including a kid-friendly one on Conservation Island)
- Boat rental and launch area
- Fishing pier
- Compass course
Touring: We explored two different areas from our base camp at Promised Land. On our first day we ventured northwest to Scranton, Pa., and visited the Steamtown National Historic Site. This was one of the best historical and educational NPS sites we have visited! The facility houses a number of steam engines, many of which are still operational. Our kids loved getting to climb up into one of the engines and ring the bell. We also found it fascinating to walk through an old dining and mail car. (Plus the kids were excited to work through a booklet to earn another Junior Ranger badge!) Admission was very reasonable (the kids were free)–we only wish we had had more time to take a train ride or visit the Electric City Trolley Museum that was just across the street. If you plan to visit, budget a whole day!
Over the next few days we drove southeast to Bushkill Falls and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Both were amazing! Bushkill Falls was a bit pricey ($14.50 for ages 10 and up, and $8.50 for ages 8-10) but the waterfalls were amazing and the trails were well maintained. We can see why it is called the “Niagara of Pennsylvania.” If you are on a tighter budget or have less time we would recommend the Dingmans Falls area of the Delaware Water Gap. They were equally as spectacular but the hike was easier (handicap accessible) and there is no admission fee. (Plus kids can work on a NPS Junior Ranger badge at this location!) We hope to return to the Delaware Water Gap at some point with the canoe and hit the “only undammed river in the eastern U.S.”
Looking for a fun place to eat? The Gem & Keystone, with a tagline of “Beer from here, food from near,” served up several tasty entrees and nice cold brews.
Date of visit: July 5-8, 2016
Cost: $27.50 per night for electric