National Park Service & Route 6 Roadtrip
Wendy Royal August 20, 2016
I can think of no better way to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS) than by hitting the road to visit some of these national treasures.
No matter when you plan your road trip, the journey is amazing on Pennsylvania’s US Route 6. This National Recreational Trail boasts 6 NPS sites as well other natural and historic landmarks that are both breathtaking and educational.
Heading from west to east, our NPS Roadtrip begins in the Oil Heritage Region of Crawford and Venango Counties where oil was first discovered in the United States. Okay, this is a wee bit off Route 6, but definitely worth the deviation.
A visit to the Drake Well Museum and the Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad in Titusville are a must. The story of the birth of the oil industry and the cities that seemed to emerge from nowhere is preserved and shared at the museum.
The Drake Well Museum. Titusville, Crawford County, PA Photo by the Drake Well Museum
Take a ride on the Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad nearby. The three-hour excursion will take you through the valley that changed the world.
Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad, Titusville, Crawford County, PA Photo by PA Route 6 Tourist Assn.
The next stop on our Route 6 #NPS100 Roadtrip is the North Country Trail which intersects Route 6 between in McKean County in the Allegheny National Forest. This designated National Scenic Trail traverses seven states and connects visitors with pristine and unspoiled forests.
The North Country Trail in the Allegheny National Forest, McKean County, PA. Photo by the NPS
From here you will have a long stretch of highway until our next stop. You will travel through Denton Hill, Lyman Run and Colton Point State Parks. It’s in the quaint town of Wellsboro where you will find the Pine Creek Gorge, also known as the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. Though not a National Park Service site, a 12-mile stretch of the gorge was given the distinction as a National Natural Landmark by the NPS in 1968 . The view from the West Rim at Colton Point is one of the most spectacular vistas in the state.
Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton is a monument to the steam locomotive and a bygone era. Not only will you learn about the history of the iron horse and those who worked on them but you will have the opportunity to take a ride.
Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton, PA Photo courtesy of the NPS
The Lackawanna Valley Heritage Area is a national and state designated heritage area that celebrates northeastern PA’s contribution to the growth of our nation. Lumber, rail and coal are all industries that helped fuel and make country prosperous in mid to late 1800’s. At historic site throughout the area, you will learn about the immigrant workers who settled here. Take a ride down into a coal mine and see what conditions were like for those who worked the mines.
Scranton Iron Furnaces, Lackawanna Valley Heritage Area, Scranton, PA. Photo courtesy of the PA Anthracite Heritage Museum
The Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River offers miles of boating and fishing on the last major undammed river in the eastern United States. The area also boasts Sites like Grey Towers National Historic Landmark, the ancestral home of Gifford Pinchot first chief of the US Forest Service and two-time Governor of Pennsylvania. Visitors who tour the Milford, Pike County estate learn about the lives of the Pinchot family and Gifford Pinchot’s work through conservation education.
Raymondskill Falls at Dingmans Falls Visitors Center, Dingmans Ferry, Pike County, PA Photo courtesy of Route 6 Visitors Assn.
The last National Park Service site on our US Route 6 road trip is Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area. Not only does this park cover 40 miles of the middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River, it also contains 27 miles of the Appalachian Trail where spectacular views of the gap can be seen from Mt. Minsi. Water recreation, lifeguarded beaches, great hiking and beautiful waterfalls are just a few of the reasons visitors come to the Delaware Water Gap each year. Thought the gap itself is south of Route 6 an access point to the Delaware River is in Milford.
Mt. Minsi (PA) on the left ad Mt. Tammany (NJ) on the right are divided by the Delaware River creating the Delaware Water Gap, Delaware Water Gap, Monroe County, PA Photo by James Hicks, courtesy of NPS