Gifford Pinchot State Park Camping Trip (Campground Review)

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Gifford Pinchot Camping Trip 2015

Back in October, Ken and I went on a camping trip. I had been wanting to do a lakefront camping trip, and this spot definitely delivered!

We camped at Gifford Pinchot State Park in Pennsylvania, just outside of Harrisburg, PA. It was about a 3 hour drive from the Washington, DC area.

In this post, I’ll give a review of the campgrounds.

We booked site 116 in Loop A. We were able to make a site-specific reservation. Based on the campground map on Gifford Pinchot’s website, it appeared that that site had about the biggest unobstructed view of the lake.

What do you think? Does this count enough as lakefront for you! It sure did for us!

Lakefront campsite at Gifford Pinchot State Park in Pennsylvania Lakefront campsite at Gifford Pinchot State Park Lakefront campsite at Gifford Pinchot State Park

We arrived at night, so we couldn’t get any photos of the site empty since it was so dark. We took a picture instead after we had packed up to leave!

Site 116 at Gifford Pinchot State Park

The tent sites themselves were relatively close together, although probably not quite as close as what they were at Westmoreland State Park.

Campsites at Loop A Campsites at Loop A

Site 116 was about a 90 second walk to the restrooms.

The site itself was a little odd. There was a big slope from the parking spot to the picnic table and fire ring. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it did create some problems about where to set up the tent so that it wasn’t too close to the fire ring (which was not moveable), and there were also many elevated tree roots in the “bottom” area, which would’ve made sleeping pretty uncomfortable if we had set up the tent on tree roots. We ended up setting up the tent right next to the car. We couldn’t put up our rainfly because it was so close to the parking spot pavement. That wasn’t a huge deal, but just something to consider.

Site 116

If we went camping here again, I think I’d pick site 115 instead.

The restrooms and showers were a little rundown, but they were clean for the most part.

Restrooms at campsite Loop A Restrooms at campsite

The showers had a separate changing stall which was nice. Ken said the men’s room had the same thing. Water pressure and hot water were both great.

Restrooms at campsite Restrooms at campsite Restrooms at campsite Restrooms at campsite

There were two utility sinks outside the restroom building, which were great for washing dishes.

Utility sinks

One thing that was kinda weird was that there’s no option to turn on the lights in the restroom after 10AM. Even though it is daylight outside, the restroom building was still pretty dark inside.

The campground was also home to a lovely little beach area.

Beach at Gifford Pinchot State Park campsite Beach at Gifford Pinchot State Park campsite

The beach was very close to our site. In fact, we’d pass it on our walk to the restrooms.

Overall, this was a great campsite.

I’ll give an overview of what else we did during our camping weekend in the next few posts, but in the meantime, check out this foggy lake morning from our site!

Foggy lake sunrise

Gifford Pinchot State Park Camping Trip, Part 2

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Gifford Pinchot Camping Trip 2015

Our camping trip weekend was a bit different than our previous camping trips in that, well, we didn’t actually spend much time in the actual park! Usually we’d take time to hike trails (I use the word “hike” very loosely here since I’m no adventurer!) and stop by the visitor’s center, but we just ran out of time on this trip. We spent most of our time at fun sites nearby.

Pennsylvania Railroad Museum

One of those fantastic sites was the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum in Strasburg, PA.

Outside the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum

This place was FANTASTIC. Interesting from a historical perspective, but also a photographer’s dream! The trains were stunning and so varied.

Pennsylvania Railroad Museum Review in Strasburg

I’ll let the photos do most of the talking here.

Pennsylvania Railroad Museum Review Pennsylvania Railroad Museum Review Pennsylvania Railroad Museum Review Pennsylvania Railroad Museum Review Pennsylvania Railroad Museum Review Pennsylvania Railroad Museum Review Pennsylvania Railroad Museum Review

There was even an outdoor display of trains at the museum.

Outdoor train display at Pennsylvania Railroad Museum Outdoor train display at Pennsylvania Railroad Museum Outdoor train display at Pennsylvania Railroad Museum Outdoor train display at Pennsylvania Railroad Museum Outdoor train display at Pennsylvania Railroad Museum

And back inside, we discovered that there were stairs to a catwalk-type area where you could view the trains from above!

Trains from above at museum Trains from above at museum

And there was one train that had an area underneath that you could walk under and see the train from below.

Looking underneath train Looking underneath train

I know that there are true, genuine, “train people” in this world. I’m not one of them, but this was a fantastic spot for a visit. Highly recommend.

Pennsylvania Railroad Museum Pennsylvania Railroad Museum Pennsylvania Railroad Museum Pennsylvania Railroad Museum

For what it’s worth, there were also train rides you can take, but Ken and I didn’t do any of those.

Informal Covered Bridges Tour

I knew that covered bridges were fairly famous in this Lancaster County area, so we decided to take a drive around some of them one morning. The Discover Lancaster website had several covered bridge itinerary suggestions, and we just picked one and went with it.

Covered bridges in Lancaster County Covered bridges in Lancaster County Covered bridges in Lancaster County

I had a temporary moment of panic as we went to drive across one of the bridges. I drive a big, old, SUV. I saw the sign that said weight limit of 3 tons. Plus, my car was filled with all sorts of extra stuff for the camping trip. I literally have no idea how much an average car weighs. 3 tons seems like a lot, right? I think? Maybe? I started thinking about that scene in Bettlejuice where they drive off the covered bridge.

So, googling from my iPhone ensued. “How much does a Ford Explorer weigh.” I found that all the estimates were well under the 3 ton limit, and we were safe to drive across it. Although maybe I drove a little extra fast because I was still a little paranoid.

Covered bridges in Lancaster County Covered bridges in Lancaster County Covered bridges in Lancaster County Covered bridges in Lancaster County Covered bridges in Lancaster County

Around Gifford Pinchot Park

Okay, maybe we did get to look around the park a little bit, but not much! We drove to the other campground loop and walked around that area.

Gifford Pinchot State Park Gifford Pinchot State Park

We could see our campground from across the lake:

Gifford Pinchot State Park Gifford Pinchot State Park Gifford Pinchot State Park

And that was it for our fall camping trip! It was a busy weekend and very fun, with great weather.

Have you gone on any camping trips recently?