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Travel & Outdoors

Winter Camping Guide For Philadelphia

December 22, 2012 7:00 AM

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Grand Teton National Park
Say the word “camping,” and most people immediately visualize the warm, hazy days of summer. Though perhaps fewer in number, there remains a hardy group of camping enthusiasts who seek the outdoors during the winter months. Some brave the winter months for hunting, ice fishing and birdwatching. Others embrace the cold to ski, ice skate and snowshoe. Fortunately, Pennsylvania offers ample winter camping opportunities, ranging from primitive campsites and rustic cabins to more luxurious accommodations in hostels and recreational vehicles. From novice to expert, these camping options have you covered this winter.
Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania
2053 Route 660
Wellsboro, PA 16901
(570) 724-0635
www.visittiogapa.comLocated in Tioga State Forest, Pine Creek Gorge, known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, is surrounded by 165,000 acres of forest land. With a maximum depth of 1,450 feet, the canyon runs for 47 miles, beginning south of Ansonia and ending near Waterville. Enjoy scenic overlooks at Leonard Harrison and Colton State Parks. Turkey Path in Leonard Harrison State Park meanders past a number of waterfalls. Tioga State Forest is open year round, and some (but not all!) of the campgrounds in the area operate during winter. Austin Campground, located near Austin, Pa., is one that’s open during the winter. Rates start at $25 a day, and long-term rates are available.

Related: Top Adaptive Skiing Programs

Eastern Mountain Sports
3401 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 382-0930
www.ems.comWhen selecting your gear, remember that winter camping and summer camping are different experiences that require different equipment and skills. It’s not just a matter of wearing extra clothing layers to keep out the cold. Beginners are advised to make their backyard their first winter camping destination. Cold temperatures tax the body more than heat. In both cases, staying hydrated is absolutely essential. Eastern Mountain Sports, located near the University of Pennsylvania, offers cold-weather equipment from The North Face, EMS Boreal and others. It also offers a full line of other camping, climbing and winter sports equipment.

REI Conshohocken/Plymouth Meeting
200 W. Ridge Pike Suite 115
Conshohocken, PA 19428
(610) 940-0809
www.rei.comA national, full-service outdoor gear supplier and co-op, REI designs and sells its own line of products. From climbing gear to winter camping essentials, the store also offers in-house training schools. In November, for example, REI, in conjunction with the Wilderness Medicine Institute, offered comprehensive two-day wilderness medical training. Students received a National Outdoor Leadership School Wilderness First Aid Certification. Plus, the course may be used for re-certification as a wilderness first responder and wilderness EMT, or in advanced wilderness first aid. REI also offers classes such as Introduction to Cold-weather Running and GPS Navigation Basics throughout the year. Be sure to ask about membership and the store’s amazing return policy on all of your gear.

Dingmans Campground
1006 Route 209
Dingmans Ferry, PA 18328
(570) 828-1551
www.dingmanscampground.comPrices: from $40 for up to four campers

Just a two-hour drive of Philadelphia, Dingmans Campground sits in the middle of the 70,000-acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. During winter, the national park is a favorite destination for cross-county skiing, snow shoeing, sledding, ice skating, ice fishing and winter camping. The campground sits on a relatively flat meadow, and the perfect place for cross country skiing for beginners is on its loop trail. Nearby, more experienced skiers may enjoy the challenge of miles of ski trails that overlook the Delaware River, such as the McDade Recreational Trail. Many of the waterfalls in the area freeze during the winter, offering spectacular winter hiking, ice climbing and photography opportunities. About 15 miles away, Shawnee Mountain offers skiing and snowboarding, while Fernwood Resort offers snow tubing.

Related: Top Spots For Outdoor Winter Fun In And Around Philadelphia

Pine Grove Furnace State Park
1100 Pine Grove Road
Gardners, PA 17324
(717) 486-7174
www.dcnr.state.pa.usPrices: from $20 per night for a rustic cabin

Pine Grove Furnace State Park sits near the Appalachian Trail in Michaux State Forest, not too far from historic Gettysburg. A 696-acre state park, Furnace State Park is part of a chain of state forests and parks situated throughout the south mountain area of the Appalachians. Offering both outdoor and historic attractions, Pine Grove Furnace State Park and other nearby parks feature hunting, fishing, ice fishing, hiking, cross country skiing, snowmobiling and ice skating opportunities, all weather permitting. Within a half-hour drive, there are two ski resorts: Ski Liberty at Carroll Valley and Ski Roundtop at Lewisberry. For those interested in history, the Gettysburg National Military Park is also about a half-hour drive from the state park.

Jeffrey B. Roth, has won numerous state and national news and feature-writing awards during his career. A well-known crime writer, investigative reporter and a feature writer, Roth writes for a number of magazines and newspapers. Listed in the Locus Index of SciFi and Fantasy authors, Roth is the author of a number of published short stories and poetry. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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