Find out why this string of peaks has been Pennsylvania's favorite tourism destination for over a century
You can thank the Philadelphia Quakers, who opened the first resort in the Poconos early in the 20th century, for what has evolved into the state's most popular tourist area. Today, this region of wooded hills and valleys—encompassing Wayne, Monroe, Pike, Carbon and Northampton counties—brings an estimated $1.5 billion in tourist spending each year, attracting recreation enthusiasts and adventure travelers who want to explore the natural beauty and scenic trails of the region.
The region's major appeal is its scenery. The Poconos encompass the Delaware State Forest, including 6 designated natural areas, 7 state parks, 17 state game lands and one national park: The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The highest summit in the area is Elk Hill's North Knob, which reaches 2,693 feet. The Delaware River flows through the Poconos.
One of the most scenic spots in the Poconos is Bushkill Falls, known as "the Niagara of Pennsylvania," a series of eight waterfalls up Highway 402 from the town of Bushkill. The largest or Main Falls tumbles 100 feet. The falls are accessible through an excellent network of hiking trails and bridges, which afford fabulous views of the falls and the surrounding forest.
The Appalachian National Scenic Trial parallels the Poconos in New Jersey and crosses the Delaware River and enters Pennsylvania just south of East Stroudsburg.
There are extensive opportunities for water sports, with many of the 150 lakes stocked for fishing. Lake Wallenpaupack is the third largest man-made lake located entirely in Pennsylvania and has become one of the Poconos' most treasured recreation areas. Hunters can also pursue white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, ruffed grouse and other wildlife. There are an estimated 40 deer per square mile in the Poconos.
The town of Jim Thorpe has been called the "Switzerland of America," due to the picturesque scenery, mountainous location and Victorian architecture, as well as the "Gateway to the Poconos." It's named in memory of the athlete who started his fabled track and football careers in Carlisle. A monument in town contains his tomb, two statues of him in athletic poses and historical markers describing his life story. The grave rests on mounds of soil from Thorpe's native Oklahoma and from the Stockholm Olympic Stadium, in which he won his Olympic medals in track and field.
Many businesses cater to whitewater rafting, mountain biking, paintball and hiking. Near the downtown is Glenn Onoko State Park, where there are popular hiking trails. The town is also site of the Asa Packer Mansion. Packer was founder of the Leigh Valley Railroad.
Pocono Raceway, a major automobile racetrack near Long Pond, is home to two NASCAR Sprint Cup races, the Pocono 400 in June and the Pennsylvania 400 in August. The raceway also serves as a racing school and motorcycle track.
The region offers gambling at Mount Airy Casino Resort in Mount Pocono, and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Plains, which also offers slots as well as live harness racing and off-track betting (OTB). There is an in OTB bar and grill in East Stroudsburg. There are 11 wineries or breweries located in the Poconos.
In addition to its recreational sites, the Poconos boast several historic attractions and tourist sites.
Atlas Cement Company Memorial Museum in Northampton traces the history of the cement. The Historic Dingmans Bridge, one of the only privately owned bridges remaining in America, spans the Delaware River from Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania, to Layton, New Jersey.
Dorflinger Glass Museum in White Mills features the original Dorflinger glassware. The museum is surrounded by the Dorflinger-Suydam Wildlife sanctuary.
At the Driebe Freight Station in Stroudsburg, you will be intrigued by the railroad memorabilia, a working model train and a turn-of-the-century blacksmith shop. JEM Classic Car Museum in Andreas takes you back in time with motorcars dated from 1902.
Pocono Indian Museum in Bushkill chronicles the history of the Delaware Indians. You can experience living like the Pennsylvania Dutch at the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm near Stroundsburg. The Pennsylvania Fishing Museum in Peck's Pond features fishing tackle from the 1700s to the 1950s.
Grey Towers in Milford is the ancestral home of Gifford Pinchot, first chief of the U.S. Forest Service and twice governor of Pennsylvania. Today, Grey Towers serves as a conservation education and leadership center, with programs that interpret the lives of the Pinchot family.
The Zane Grey Museum in Lackawaxen Township is a former residence of the author Zane Grey and is now maintained as a museum and operated by the National Park Service. The museum contains many photographs, artworks, books, furnishings, and other objects of interest associated with Grey and his family. Grey celebrated the Old West in novels like Hondo and Riders of the Purple Sage. Grey's books have sold in the millions and he is credited with pioneering popular fiction based on the Old West.
Lackawanna Coal Mine tour near Scranton takes riders 300 feet beneath the Earth's surface through an anthracite coal mine originally opened in 1860.
For More Information:
Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau