Allegheny National Forest is the only national forest in Pennsylvania and is nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. The forest is home to many plateaus that have an elevation of around 2,300 feet and to valleys that are around 1,000 feet above sea level. The forest is comprised of 517,000 acres and includes the counties of Elk, Forest, Warren and McKean, divided into the Bradford Ranger District in the north and Marienville Ranger District in the south. Within this expansive forest, you will find many outdoor recreational opportunities, such as hundreds of miles of trails, water-based activities on the Allegheny River and the Kinzua Reservoir and winter sports, like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling.
Camping in Allegheny National Forest
The Allegheny National Forest is a large area with two ranger districts that contain four counties. Traveling around this large of an area with an RV is the best way to ensure that you can get around easily. Renting an RV from RVshare is convenient and fun.
Raccoon Creek State Park
The Raccoon Creek State Park modern campground is a large campground with RV sites that offer electric and water outlets, and there are five centrally located washhouses. Visitors who stay at the campground have access to all the recreational activities inside Raccoon Creek State Park, which is a 7,572-acre park with a 100-acre lake. It is one of the largest state parks in Pennsylvania, and it features facilities that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and a Wildflower Reserve preserve, which is a 314-acre preserve with a varied assortment of native wildflowers. Raccoon Lake has catfish, walleye, bluegill, yellow perch, muskellunge, crappie, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, and hunting is allowed in season. Visitors can hike, bike, and ride horses.
Number of sites: 172, of which 8 are ADA-accessible
Rates: Call for rates
Type of hookup: Full hook-ups
Amps: 20, 30 and 50
Pool/Hot tub: No
Pet-friendly: Pets are allowed in loops C and F
Other amenities: ADA-accessible beach, bathhouse on the lake, concession store, hiking trails, boat rentals, playground, dump station
Letchworth State Park
Letchworth State Park is located near Buffalo and is often called the Grand Canyon of the East. It is one of the most scenic parks in the eastern U.S. and features three waterfalls formed on the Genesee River. Visitors can hike on more than 60 miles of trails, which include a number of multi-use trails for biking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. During the winter, you can also snow tube, ski cross-country, and snowmobile. The restored Glen Iris Inn offers lodging and dining options.
Number of sites: 270 back-in sites
Rates: 30-amp $24, 50-amp $26, additional $4 on weekends
Type of hookup: Full hook-ups
Amps: 30 and 50
Pet-friendly: Pets are allowed in loops 100, 200 and 700 on a leash, and a rabies shot certification is required.
Other amenities: Firewood at the concession store, sports fields, trout pond, nature center, museum
Activities in Allegheny National Forest
The Allegheny National Forest was extensively logged in the later part of the 19th century and is now considered a second-growth forest. The prior forests of beech and hemlock have been replaced by black birch, cherry, red maple and sugar maple. There are plentiful opportunities for catching a glimpse of the more than 300 species of animals in the forest, such as gray squirrel, raccoon, snowshoe hare, beaver, mink, red and gray fox, muskrat, black bear, white-tailed deer and wild turkey.
You will find some of the best warm-water fishing in northwestern Pennsylvania for species such as smallmouth bass, white bass, channel catfish, bullhead catfish, walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, yellow perch and crappie. Some streams are stocked with brown, rainbow and brook trout, and some have naturally occurring brook trout.
Geocaching is allowed in most areas of the Allegheny National Forest, with certain rules and restrictions. It is not permitted in the Tionesta Scenic and Research Natural Areas, Hickory Creek, and Allegheny Islands Wilderness, Hearts Content Scenic Area, and all developed recreation sites.
As with any large wilderness area, there are plenty of opportunities for watching the night sky with minimal light pollution.
How to get to Allegheny National Forest
Address: 4 Farm Colony Drive, Warren, PA 16365
Fee: Entry fee (per day) $5.0
Fee: Entry fee (annual pass) $55.0
Fee: Entry fee (annual pass, ages 62+) $20.0
Fee: Entry fee (lifetime pass, ages 62+) $80.0
The Allegheny National Forest showcases the natural landscapes surrounding and including the western foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and the Allegheny Plateau. Visitors to this large national forest can enjoy any number of outdoor activities year-round, and driving an RV is a fun and exciting way to get the most out of your road trip through the Allegheny National Forest.
Frequently Asked Questions About Allegheny National Forest
Is there a fee to get into Allegheny National Forest?
No, there is no fee to get into Allegheny National Forest. However, there may be fees or permits required for certain day-use areas, for using OHV trails, and for other recreational activities.
Is Allegheny National Forest open all year round?
Yes, Allegheny National Forest is open year-round. In summer, you can go hiking, mountain biking, or paddling on rivers and reservoirs in the forest. In winter, you can go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, or try other winter activities.
Does Allegheny National Forest offer free camping sites?
Yes, Allegheny National Forest offers free camping sites. Dispersed camping is allowed in many areas of the forest. Dispersed campsites have no amenities, except possibly a fire ring. Campers will need to bring everything they need, including water, and must leave no trace when they pack up camp.
Is there a limit to how long you can camp in Allegheny National Forest?
Yes, there is a limit to how long you can camp in Allegheny National Forest. Campers are allowed to stay for up to 14 days. At that point, they must move off of forest system lands.
What is the best time to visit Allegheny National Forest?
The best time to visit Allegheny National Forest is in summer. The weather is warm enough for visitors to hike, fish, swim, or paddle in the forest lakes. Most areas of the forest are accessible in summer as well.