There are travelers that prefer more quaint and serene experiences over parties and loud outings. These people love to go to parks and areas where nature is seemingly untouched. One of the best states to be in for a nature-lover is the Keystone State, also known as Pennsylvania. There are a ton of parks and natural wonders in the state and as such, it is a must visit for solo backpackers, couples, and families alike. Of all that it has to offer, one that stands out the most is the historic Ricketts Glen State Park.

Becoming Familiar with Ricketts Glen State Park

Spanning at a whopping 13,050 acres, the Ricketts Glen State Park is one of the largest natural parks not only in the state. There are a ton of state parks in Pennsylvania and the fact that it is able to stand out leaves a lot to be amazed about. The park is in the scope of the Columbia, Luzerne and Sullivan counties. The park is most notably known for its old-growth forest and 24 named waterfalls that runs along Kitchen Creek which follows the Allegheny Front.

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A map of Ricketts Glen State Park showing Kitchen Creek flowing South east from Ganoga Lake (Source)

Rickets Glen State Park History

The Ricketts Glen State Park is a part of not only Pennsylvania and the US’ history, but it is a part of the world’s history instead. According to historians, humans have been living in the park since at least 10000 BC and the first settlers in it were the Paleo-Indiannomadic hunters who were most known for their stone tools. Since the area that is now known as Ricketts Glen State Park was already filled with lush fauna and wildlife back then, the early settlers typically hunted for a living. After thousands of years, it was Native Americans that began taking advantage of what the vibrant land has to offer.

European settlers came into the land at around the 1760s. Then in 1850, two brothers named Elijah and Clemuel Ricketts built a stone house on the nearby lake short. It served as a lodge and as a tavern in and it was then known as Ricketts Folly since it was isolated in the wilderness. The person whom the park was named after was Elijah’s son Robert Bruce Ricketts. He joined the Union Army as a private and during the American Civil War, he rose through the rank to become a colonel. After the war, he returned to Pennsylvania. He began purchasing the land around the lake from his late father and by 1873, he already owned 66,000 acres of the land including the surrounding area.

During the early years, Rickett’s Folly served as a home and inn to those who are in the forest. In 1872, Bruce Ricketts added a three-story addition to the house, allowing it to accommodate more people. Most of the lodge’s visitors were the friends and relative of the Ricketts and this helped establish the natural park.

As the years went by, more and more areas of the park were made accessible to the public. Then in August 1, 1941, the governor of Pennsylvania at the time, Arthur James signed the legislation that created the Ricketts Glen State Park. The state park was made open to the public in August 1, 1943 despite the records saying it opened in 1944.

Now that we’ve got the run-down of the park’s solid history, let us now prepare for a trip to the Ricketts Glen State Park. Let us first start off with the crucial details.

What is the time zone in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania is in the Eastern Standard Time which is roughly 5 hours behind the Greenwich Mean Time. Travelers should take this into consideration heavily as it is better to visit the park when the sun is still up. Not only will the trip be safer, it will also be easier to see all that the park has to offer during daytime.

How to get to Ricketts Glen State Park?

The best way to get to Ricketts Glen State Park from outside Pennsylvania is by getting to it from either the Philadelphia or Harrisburg airport. From these airports, it will be best to rent a car and drive to the park. The drive itself will only be a few hours long and it is well worth the trip considering all of the other sights you can see along the way. Public transportation is not a good option for travelers as they could end up having to walk a long way instead. If renting a car is not one of the options, then it will be advisable to seek help from local travel agencies.

When is the best time to visit Ricketts Glen State Park?

The best time to visit the hiking trail in Ricketts Glen State Park is on weekdays or when school is in session. These are basically the days between April to May and then September to October. The park is often frequented by students so it can get pretty crowded when they are around. If you visit during the summer weekend or even the weekday, there will be hundreds of other hikers to share the trail with.

In terms of weather, the days during Spring and Fall are perfect for the hike. The sun keeps the trail warm while the trees keep out the intense direct heat. Furthermore, the animals are more active during these days so it will be the best time to bring out our cameras along for the trip. Who knows, some of the animals might even begin to interact with the hikers.

Perhaps the worst time to visit the Ricketts Glen State Park is during the winter and especially when it has snowed in Pennsylvania recently. The hiking trail features many steep drops so slipping is not going to be pleasant. Also, the animals will be hibernating during this period so there will be less to see.

Now that we’ve got the run-down on everything there is to prepare for during a trip to Ricketts Glen State Park, it is now time to take a short glance at what we could find in the historic park.

Things to See at Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen State Park is known for its hiking trails and campgrounds. Indeed, it has a lot of nice things to offer to its visitors. You’ll definitely feel refreshed after a visiting this place. However, there is a lot more things to see at Ricketts Glen State Park. Here are some of which that will make you fall in love with the place all the more.


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A margnolia warbler that you can get to see inside Ricketts Glen State Park (Source)

Aside from the camping activity that the state park has to offer, its wildlife is also one of the best things to see at Ricketts Glen State Park. Here, you can get to see an exceptional diversity of bird life. In fact, there are even 23 varieties of them  from warblers to bald eagles. That is why it has been included in the official Audubon Susquehanna River Birding and Wildlife Trail all over Pennsylvania.

Apart from that, you can also get to see raccoons, horses, and even bears. However, note that the black bears are getting common around the area. They can be cute and they may look cuddly like our kids’ teddy bears but bear in mind (no pun intended) that these animals are not those types of bears that we see in cartoons. While they normally avoid people, these bears are dependent on eating human food and they can become aggressive when you get between them and the food which can be troublesome.

2The Flora

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An appalachian Jacob’s ladder, a part of Ricketts Glen State Park’s flora (Source)

The plants in and around Ricketts Glen State Park is also another thing that will make you fall in love with the place even more. This is because the state park is filled with lots of plants and flowers that will surely make you feel a lot more closer to nature. In fact, the state park’s forest is known as one of the most extensive in the Northeastern part of Pennsylvania. Here, you can get to see plants like yellow birch, black gum, sphagnum, cinnamon fern, and a variety of sedge. In addition to that, there are also a lot of eastern hemlock, oaks, and eastern white pine to be found. The most interesting part of this area is that it serves as a home to more than 80 species of woody vines, shrubs, and trees. It also homes seven kinds of conifers. It’s definitely one of the top things to see at Ricketts Glen State Park so don’t forget to take a closer look of them as you visit the area.

3The Colors of Nature

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Ricketts Glen State Park’s vivid colors in Autumn (Source)

Of course, the colors of the area is also one of the things to see at Ricketts Glen State Park that you will surely love. As the season changes, the state park shows off vivid colors of nature. During Fall, the oaks changes its colors from yellow to deep burgundy. The leaves turn out more beautiful as well during Autumn. Meanwhile, the Winter season at Ricketts Glen State Park will fill your eyes with shades of blue and white. In Spring, you’ll definitely see vivid shades of green and so on. No matter what season it is, you can rest assured that you can get to see some beautiful colors. Fill your eyes with such beautiful sight to see or even snap photos, you’ll definitely love it regardless of what season it is.

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The enchanting look of Ricketts Glen State Park in Winter (Source)

4The Waterfalls

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One of Ricketts Glen State Park’s beutiful waterfalls (Source)

Some State Parks and other tourist spots sure have waterfalls. Sure, you can find other spots where you can enjoy its waterfalls. But what makes Ricketts State Parks a cut above the rest of the state parks and other tourist spots is that it boasts of more than 20 waterfalls. Yes, you read it right. Your favorite state park or tourist spot may have a waterfall or two for you to enjoy but this place has, in fact, 21 different waterfalls to offer plus the other waterfalls around the area. How cool is that, right? Here are some of them.

  • Onondaga Falls – This falls boasts of a single drop of 15 feet.
  • F.L Ricketts Falls – Named after Frank L. Ricketts, R. Bruce Ricketts’ younger brother, this falls is steeper compared to the Onondaga Falls and is 38 feet.
  • Shawnee Falls – This is one of the sinificant falls from the top of Glen Leigh and it has a height of 30 feet.
  • Huron Falls – It has a curving slide that is followed by smaller drops. This has a height of 41 feet.
  • Ozone Falls – Named after the Ozone Hiking Club, this waterfalls is considered as the second tallest falls in Ricketts Glen State Park with a height of 60 feet.
  • R.B Rickets falls – Named after R. Bruce Rickets, this one is a complicated two-tiered falls. It also has a side falls where a small stream joins Kitchen Creek
  • B. Reynolds Falls – This falls is known to have a height of 40 feet. But apparently, the distinctive drop is only 15 feet high.
  • Glen Leigh Falls – Named after Bruce Ricketts’ wife’s brother, this one has a height of 15 feet.
  • Oneida Falls – This is one of the most picturesque falls that you can get to see in the area and it has a drop of 13 feet.
  • Cayuga Falls – Cayuga Falls is also one of the prettiest waterfalls in the area even if it only has a drop of 11 feet.
  • Ganoga Falls – This one is the most popular waterfalls among the state parks visitors. This is because it is the tallest falls that boasts of a height of 94 feet.
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A signage at Ricketts Glenn State Park that will guide you to its waterfalls (Source)

These are just some of the waterfalls that makes up the list of things to see at Ricketts Glen State Park. The place still has a lot of waterfalls to impress you. If you want to know more, you check out all of them here for more facts and stats.

However, note that you can get to see these waterfalls when you go hiking. Also, the hike can be slippery and steep. It’s not for the faint of heart but it sure is worth it.

5The Night Sky

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A clear view of the magnificent night sky at Ricketts Glen State Park (Source)

If you go camping at Ricketts Glen, don’t forget to look up to see the night sky as it is also one of the best things to see at Ricketts Glen State Park. As a matter of fact, many people who have been there say that the state park is one of the top spots that has the best night sky views across Pennsylvania. This is because the place is located on a higher area. In addition to that, the fact that there is not much development around the area for miles makes you see a better view of the night sky. There are no light pollution or any obstruction around the area so you can just lie down and enjoy the stars as you camp.

The lake near the state park’s campgrounds is also a nice place to be if you want to gaze at the stars. There are no trees that will obstruct your view nor city lights.

6The Sunset View

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A mother and her daughter enjoying the beautiful sunset view at Ricketts Glen State Park’s Lake Jean (Source)

Speaking of the sky, the sunset view at Lake Jean is also one of the best things to see at Ricketts Glen State Park that you shouldn’t miss. Here, every sunset is different. You’ll definitely get to see vivid mixture of pink, orange, and sometimes, you can get to see some shades of deep red, ocher, and burnt umber before it turns black under the cover of night. The trees also makes the sunset view even more breath-taking. It’s a kind of view that will not just fill your eyes with great sights to see but it will also relax you.

Aside from that, the sunrise in this area is worth the talk as well. In case you need a guide to not miss the dazzling sunrise and the sunset views at Lake Jean in Ricketts Glen State Park, you can check for updates here.

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A breathtaking view of the sunrise at Ricketts Glen State Park’s Lake Jean (Source)

These are just a glimpse of the awesome things to see at Ricketts Glen State Park. This awesome tourist spot still has a lot to offer. It’s definitely a place that you shouldn’t miss when traveling to Pennsylvania. Have you been here already? What are the other things that made you fall in love with the place? Tell us in the comment section below.


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