ricketts [glen state park] rankings

kirk and i spent three nights at ricketts glen state park in north central pennsylvania this past weekend through tuesday.

what an incredibly awesome place. we’ve been before, but this time we especially enjoyed every minute of the peace and quiet, especially on monday night, when we were the only campers in the park. and the cell phones don’t work there. love that.

we took advantage of the empty time to take a look at the campground, figure out the camping spots we liked, and picked a top 5. our positive criteria were seclusion, beauty, and space. negatives we looked for included being too near or (especially) at the end of a road (headlights in the tent — not good), being too close to the road in general, and close proximity to the bathrooms (too much noisy foot traffic). we labeled the ones we liked with “y” (for “yes”) and appended a “-” for a decent site with some problems, a “+” for great sites, and an “!” for the outstanding sites. our top five sites are all “y!” sites.

your criteria may differ from ours. if so, check out the details of the individual sites and plan accordingly. kirk took pictures of the sites we liked — they’re coming soon.

here’s a page where you can download a map of the campground, so you can play along at home.

there are two camping areas in ricketts glen: the big loop (sites 1-73) and the small loop (sites 74-120). the small loop sites are all knocked out of serious contention immediately. none of them border the water, some of them (sites 80-93) allow pets (no pets allowed in the big loop), and they are very crowded with no buffer zones to speak of. we gave three small loop sites a “y-” ranking: sites 101, 108, and 115. but they are strictly a fall-back position, in case the big loop is completely full. if the big loop is full, and these sites are gone, certainly there’s enough positive features at the park to still come. but it’s going to be packed with people, and you’re likely to have a less than optimal experience.

for the big loop, i’ll list only the sites that got “y-” or better. the sites not listed got knocked out for the aforementioned reasons.

big loop “y-” sites:

3, 5, 17, 23 (17 + 23 close to bathroom but big), 27, 33, 46 (27, 33, 46 at end of road, but on water), 49, 52, 54.

big loop “y” sites:

7, 9, 24, 26 (campground host site, near entrance), 34, 35, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 57, 71, 72, 73. all but 42, 44, and 71 are on or near water. 57 is at the end of a road but is so spectacular that it loses the minus.

big loop “y+” sites:

5, 20, 22, 29, 31, 56, 66. all but 5 on the water.

big loop “y!” sites:

21, 36, 37, 59, 61, 64, 65. there’s nothing wrong with any of these, in our estimation. site perfection.

and for the top five — again, culled from the “y!” sites:

#5 — site 64. at the end of a road, on the water, huge with no near neighbors.

#4 — site 59. secluded, on the water, huge surrounding area.

#3 — site 36. at the end of a road, on the water, huge, only site we saw with a constructed tent platform.

#2 — site 21. huge, on the water, secluded. the best part about this site is that the area behind the site drops down to the water, and then there’s a shelf right by the water. so you can sit by the water, and no one can see you. spectacular.

and the #1 site — #37. the huge site drops down from the road, so you are hidden from everyone else. and you have an enormous peninsula you share only with site 36, with water views on three sides.

there you go — our subjective opinions, explained. what do you think? leave a comment if you disagree, or have experiences to share.