The best summer adventures in the PA Wilds

The best summer adventures in the PA Wilds
May 31, 2024 19 view(s)
The best summer adventures in the PA Wilds

Find your next summer adventure in the Pennsylvania Wilds! With 29 state parks, eight state forests, and the Commonwealth's only national forest, the PA Wilds region has plenty of space to roam and enjoy!


Need some inspiration for ways to make some new memories this summer? Check out this list of cool adventures to have in the hot weather.

Paddle the Allegheny River

Dip your paddle into the cool waters of the Allegheny River… named both the 2017 and 2024 PA River of the Year! With 86.6 miles of recreational use, the National Wild & Scenic Allegheny River flows through forest valleys, wilderness islands and rural landscapes. Hugging the edge of the Allegheny National Forest, most river paddlers start out by the Kinzua Dam. Paddlers enjoy both relaxing day trips as well as on-shore overnight camping. Don’t want to bring your own kayak? Local outfitters (such as Allegheny Outfitters in Warren) are available for rentals and even guided river trips!

Go tubing on the Clarion River

If floating seems more your speed, bringing or renting a tube can be an easy way to enjoy some on-the-water time! A 13-mile stretch of the Clarion River flows through Cook Forest State Park and is popular for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and tubing. In fact, Pale Whale Canoe Fleet can help you get onto the water with equipment rentals and easy transportation. A leisurely tubing adventure can be a great way to relax with family and family, dip your toes in the water, soak in the sun, and make some memories.

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Take a ride on the “Wilds” side

Time to hit the open road! Don’t get stuck in city traffic. The Pennsylvania Wilds offers plenty of beautiful scenic roads and places to take a road trip or a motorcycle ride. One of the best places to take a ride? The 400+ scenic miles of PA Route 6 is a journey like no other in Pennsylvania. Even National Geographic agrees, calling PA Route 6 “one of America’s most scenic drives,” and the Weather Channel picked Route 6 as its Pennsylvania choice for "Amazing Road Trips to Take In Every State!" There are plenty of other scenic routes too… and the best route is the one where you can breathe in the scenery, relax, and enjoy new experiences.

Learn something new with a state park event

Don’t let your kids’ brains melt with endless scrolling this summer! This summer days are meant for outdoor adventures, and Pennsylvania state parks and forests offer lots of free activities for kids to enjoy. (And don’t tell the kids, but lots of these activities as also educational… meaning they’re still learning something new even during their summer vacation!) Check out the PA Wilds State Park & Forests event calendar for a full calendar of activities, including things like interpretive hikes, historical tours, hands-on crafts, guest speakers, movies and more!

Go fly fishing on Kettle Creek or Slate Run

Most avid anglers want to keep the best fishing spots a secret, but it’s common knowledge that Kettle Creek and Slate Run are some of the best places in the PA Wilds to go fly fishing. Cast a line, enjoy the summer breeze, breathe in the fresh air, and relax as you watch the waterways ripple. Pack a lunch, or reward yourself after a good day of fishing with a cold beer and a delicious meal at a local restaurant… all the while, telling your newfound friends your “big fish” story.

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Enjoy the cool dusk like an elk

If the summer days get too hot for you, take advice from an elk… come out at dawn or dusk! Elk are smart creatures, and they know the best way to stay cool is to stay out of the sun during the hottest times of the day. Instead, they are most active the hour or two after dawn or an hour or two before dusk. If you’re looking to do some wildlife viewing during the hot summer months, plan to look for the elk during the cooler parts of the day. The Elk Country Visitors Center is also open most days throughout the daytime hours, offering some nice air conditioning and a place to learn about elk indoors.

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Meander through farmers markets and festivals

The summertime calendar is packed with festivals, farmers markets, and community events! Keep your eyes peeled for roadside fruit and veggie stands, filled with fresh locally grown produce too! Check out the PA Wilds event calendar for more info on the events that take place during the summertime. You’re bound to find one that piques your interest. Make a plan to visit a farmers market, festival, or other community event this summer in the PA Wilds. You’ll likely get to sample local goods, listen to good music, find beautiful artwork and artisan crafts, and make some new friends.

Camp in nature

Dream under the stars! Enjoy the fresh air and calm of sleeping in nature. There’s nothing better than the fine dining of a picnic table and some slightly burnt marshmallows. See the sunset and the sunrise, all while enjoying the peacefulness of the PA Wilds. From state parks to the Allegheny National Forest, there is a wide range of camping styles and locations to choose from. From rustic cabins, to tent camping or glamping, the Pennsylvania Wilds welcomes you to make your bed in nature.

Break out the bicycle

Nothing says summer like peddling a bike with some friends! The biking trails in our forests and state parks cover a wide variety of terrain - from gently curving pathways to rugged, uphill climbs. Some trails are perfect for a leisurely day of biking while others are more challenging for serious mountain bikers. Many former railway right-of-ways in our region have been converted to rail-trail hiking and biking paths as well.

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Find your new favorite meal or drink

Foodies welcome! The best summer adventures end in a cold beverage and a good hearty meal. Find your next favorite meal, brew, or wine in the PA Wilds. Check out this ongoing list of the breweries you’ll find throughout the region, or check out the roundup of wineries that will help you find the perfect pairing. Looking for a tasty meal? Search the Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania directory to find a great restaurant near your next PA Wilds adventure.

Give back and volunteer

The benefits of volunteering are incredible, and it’s well worth it to make some time in your life to give back as a volunteer. Whether you live in the PA Wilds region or like to give back while you travel here, volunteering is an excellent way of making new memories with your family, teach your children the importance of serving their community, or grow your own skillset. Exciting opportunities await! See ways to volunteer on the PA Wilds volunteer page.