The Pocono Mountains have been a recreational haven for city dwellers, honeymooners and families for decades. Now it’s time for you to discover the charms of eastern Pennsylvania for yourself. From Columbus, travel east on I-80 to the picturesque hamlet of Jim Thorpe – your base camp for this Road Adventure. Park your vintage trailer in one of the area’s campgrounds, such as the Jim Thorpe Camping Resort, or Mauch Chunk Lake Park, then set out to explore this quaint village. Nicknamed “the Switzerland of America,” Jim Thorpe’s narrow streets and terraced gardens hug the mountainside, offering breathtaking views in every direction. Old-world shops, unique eateries and nightly entertainment options abound, but it’s the proximity to the great outdoors that you’ll really love. A good place to start your adventure is the Pocono Mountains Visitor Center. Here you’ll learn the history of the area and find information on everything there is to see and do. With nine state parks in the region, there’s no shortage of hiking, biking, kayaking or simply soaking in the magnificent mountain vistas. Adventurists can fly down a mountain on a zip line or parasail over a lake. If golf is your game, you’re in luck. There are more than 30 golf courses in the Poconos, including courses designed by Robert Trent Jones, A.W. Tillinghast and Donald Ross. These are just a few of the exciting activities you’ll discover on your Pocono Mountains Road Adventure.
RIDE INTO HISTORY ON THE LEHIGH GORGE SCENIC RAILWAY
All aboard! Sit back and relax in a vintage 1917 coach as a diesel locomotive winds you through the visual splendor of the Lehigh Gorge. The 70 minute, 16 mile round trip train ride departs from the former Central Railroad of New Jersey train station in historic Jim Thorpe. From there, the train parallels the magnificent Lehigh River, passing by the famous Glen Onoko Falls and into the Lehigh Gorge State Park. Stunning mountain scenery unfolds at every turn. Along the way, a narrator describes the history of the gorge noting special points of interest.
GET WET & WILD: BOATS, RAFTS, AND WATER PARKS
Water lovers will thrill at having access to the more than 150 lakes in the Poconos – including Lake Wallenpaupack. Thirteen miles long with 52 miles of shoreline, Lake Wallenpaupack is a favorite water sport destination. But don’t worry about crowds. With six public recreation areas along the lakeshore, each with campsites and boat slips, there’s plenty of room. Don’t have a boat? No problem. Local outfitters offer a variety of rentals, including kayaks, boats, jet skis, water skis, tubes and wakeboards. For a different kind of water recreation, indulge in a day of canoeing on the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River. Though better known for its whitewater, the first 30 miles below the town of Hancock is calm, with shallow riffles and crystal clear pools. As you navigate the river, you’ll wind through immense forested valleys and pass by riverfront villages. Be sure to bring your fishing pole – this pristine mountain river is renowned for trout fishing. If the weather turns dicey, bring the fun inside to one of the region’s three family-friendly indoor water parks. Tiny tykes can splash in the zero-depth entry playgrounds while thrillseekers zoom down wild water slides, and who doesn’t enjoy floating along a lazy river?
TRAVEL TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH
Well not quite. But visitors to the No. 9 Coal Mine in Lansford can ride a train 1,600 feet into the mountainside and experience firsthand what it was like for miners to work underground. Opened in 1855, at its peak the mine employed more than 450 workers. Today, the mine tour and extensive exhibits and artifacts in the No. 9 Mining Museum chronicle Pennsylvania’s mining heritage through the stories of the men who worked in them. Afterward, browse the gift shop where you will find unusual souvenirs, including pieces of carved coal.
Are you ready for an adventure?