Pennsylvania Wilds Conservation Landscape
The 12.5-county Pennsylvania Wilds offers:
- Tremendous outdoor adventures
- Abundant wildlife
- Hundreds of miles of land and water trails
- Rich lumber and oil history
- Charming small towns
- Authentic experiences
The land mass of the northcentral Pennsylvania landscape covers 25 percent of the state and holds about 4 percent of its population. The amount of public land in the region -- more than 2 million acres -- is comparable to Yellowstone National Park.
Vision and Impacts of the PA Wilds
The vision of the Pennsylvania Wilds Conservation Landscape is to help revitalize rural communities through sustainable tourism development -- all while inspiring a stewardship ethic in residents and visitors.
Since being launched in 2003, the effort has had a significant and positive impact on both the businesses and communities in the region and partnerships have been a hallmark of this success.
The partnership has led to increases in the region related to:
- Overnight leisure travel
- Trip lengths
- State park attendance
- Small business start-ups
- Job creation
- Tax revenues in the region
The Pennsylvania Wilds has been a national model for similar efforts around the country.
Goals of the PA Wilds
The Pennsylvania Wilds has been guided by a group of 40 organizations representing federal, state, and county government; tourism and cultural interests; education, economic development and the private sector.
For more than a decade, the partners in the area have worked to:
- Ensure stewardship of the public lands and character of the region’s communities
- Support and grow private businesses such as accommodations, services, and locally-made products
- Promote the renewal of the region’s communities and appropriate community planning
- Invest in public infrastructure to enhance the visitor experience
The PA Wilds is a landscape rich in recreational and cultural assets including:
- The largest elk herd in the northeast
- Some of the darkest night skies in the country and a Dark Sky Preserve at Cherry Springs State Park
- Rich oil and lumber heritage
- Authentic small towns
- Elk Country Visitor Center -- operated in partnership with the Keystone Elk Country Alliance, located in Benezette
- The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle -- a 16-room eco-friendly nature inn voted one of the best in the country
- Elk Scenic Drive -- 23 viewing sites that provide parking and opportunities to view elk and other wildlife
- Pennsylvania Grand Canyon -- Leonard Harrison and Colton Point state parks, sit on either side of the Pine Creek Gorge, a 18-mile rugged area with depths in excess of 1,000 feet from the rim to Pine Creek
- Pine Creek Rail-Trail -- extends 62 miles south from Wellsboro Junction to Jersey Shore in the Tiadaghton State Forest along Pine Creek; the trail is used primarily for bicycling, walking, and cross-country skiing
- Kinzua Bridge State Park -- featuring a new visitor’s center and pedestrian walkway where visitors can stroll 600 feet out on the remaining support towers of the former longest and tallest railroad viaduct structure that was partially destroyed by a tornado
- 16,000 miles of waterways, including two National Wild & Scenic Rivers -- the Allegheny and the Clarion -- the West Branch of the Susquehanna, and many more
PA Wilds Conservation Shops
The PA Wilds Conservation Landscape is a 13-county region that is home to an impressive and diverse community of skilled artisans, craftspeople, and producers working across a variety of media.
Uplifting and celebrating these artisans and craftspeople throughout the region are PA Wilds Conservation Shops. Located at select state parks, Conservation Shops primarily feature locally-made products that reflect the region’s beauty, bounty, and rural traditions so visitors can “take home a piece of the PA Wilds.”
During checkout, shoppers may also choose to donate to the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation, which reinvests 100% of the proceeds to fund special projects in the state parks and forests in the PA Wilds.
The Conservation Shops are operated through a public-private partnership between the nonprofit PA Wilds Center and DCNR to help support the Center's mission in the PA Wilds Conservation Landscape.
Learn more about PA Wilds Conservation Shops located at:
- Kinzua Bridge State Park
- Leonard Harrison State Park