Exploring Pennsylvania’s Ohiopyle State Park

By: Marsha Solock Morgenstern

August 20, 2015

Hailed as the home of white water rafting, head out to Ohiopyle State Park and the Youghiogheny River Gorge (the deepest gorge in the state) for an outdoor adventure in Pennsylvania’s largest park. Here are some of the top outdoor activities to enjoy on your next trip to Pittsburgh.

White water thrills

Exploring Pennsylvania's Ohiopyle State Park
White water rafting is popular with beginners to experts at Ohiopyle State Park © Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau

There are two distinct sections of the Youghiogheny River used for white water rafting in Ohiopyle State Park. “The Middle Yough is our class I-II section, so that’s better for families with younger kids,” says Stacie Hall, assistant park manager. The Middle Yough also has a stretch of river that’s good for float fishing and has been compared to many of the famous rivers in the West.

The Lower Yough is a class III-IV section. “…that is what would be considered intermediate white water. It’s also good for first timers learning how to kayak,” says Hall. A natural water slide created by Meadow Run, a tributary that feeds into the Lower Yough is also popular. “You can sit down in the stream bed and slide for a pretty good distance”.


Ohiopyle adventures for land lovers

Exploring Pennsylvania's Ohiopyle State Park
An observation deck at Ohiople State Park overlooks the Youghiogheny River © Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau

There are 80 miles of trails at Ohiopyle. Some are hiking only, some are multi-use, and others are for equestrian use, cross country skiing, snowmobiling and mountain biking. Regardless of how you chose to explore, you’re guaranteed a scenic view. Rock climbing is also a popular activity here.


A four seasons destination

Exploring Pennsylvania's Ohiopyle State Park
Cucumber Falls is one of the many waterfalls at Ohiopyle State Park © Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau

Although Ohiopyle State Park is busy in the summer with the popularity of its white water rafting, the park’s natural beauty draws people in year-round. In the winter, people come to see the many waterfalls during the freeze and thaw cycles. Spring attracts those that come to view the beautiful wildflowers that bloom and birders come to observe migrations. Autumn is also a popular time at Ohiopyle, partially because it sits on the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) rail trail. “The trail’s heaviest use is actually in the Fall during the leaf change…It’s definitely a different world through the different seasons,” says Hall.

Exploring Pennsylvania's Ohiopyle State Park
Meadow Run has cut into rock, creating a natural water slide © Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau

Camping in Ohiopyle State Park

Ohioyple offers a campground run by the park with about 200 sites that are accessible to the GAP. “We have everything from nonelectric sites that you have to walk into to eclectic sites,” Hall says. These sites include camping cottages, wall tents, group sites and multi sites that can accommodate larger groups. For about seven years, Ohiopyle has also offered the opportunity for visitors to stay in yurts: round, heavy canvas tents on a wooden platform that are divided into two rooms – the back room sleeps five people in bunk beds, the front room has a small kitchenette and table. Campsite reservations are accepted online or by telephone up to 11 months in advance.

Exploring Pennsylvania's Ohiopyle State Park
In addition to white water rafting, kayaking and trout fishing is popular at Ohiopyle © Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau

No matter what your outdoor interests are, chances are that Ohiopyle State Park will appeal to you. “We attract people looking at doing high activity recreation and people looking at just laying out along the river and getting some sunshine…We really do have something for everybody”.

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Have you been to Ohiopyle State Park? Do you prefer high activity recreation or would you rather laze around in the sun? Let us know in the comments section below.



Marsha Solock Morgenstern

A former Floridian, Marsha Solock Morgenstern moved to the Pittsburgh area in 2006. She enjoys the changing seasons, the friendly community, and the arts and culture Pittsburgh has to offer. In addition to freelance writing, Marsha teaches Academic Writing full-time for the University of Phoenix.

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