On the hunt for something to do outdoors this summer? If you’re looking for a slightly bigger adventure than a picnic, consider visiting a National Park. There are two parks close to Pittsburgh, and both of them have plenty to offer.
Shenandoah National Park in Virginia is just about 4 hours southeast of the city, but it’s worth the trip. It’s a sizable park with plenty of cabins for rent as well as more rugged camping options. The Shenandoah Valley offers gorgeous views that can be enjoyed on foot, horseback, or even from the comfort of your car driving along Skyline Drive. With Washington, D.C. just 75 miles away, you’ll definitely want to make it a longer trip to take in all the sights.
If you want to stay closer to home, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is just 2 hours west of the city, between Cleveland and Akron, OH. Entrance to the park is free, and if you want to spend a night or two, you can choose between camping or staying in a hotel just outside the park. Camping is $20 per night in the primitive campsites. Those open for the summer season Memorial Day weekend and stay open through October 31st.
The list of outdoor activities available at the park are pretty standard: biking, hiking, boating, fishing, bird watching, horseback riding, and golfing. Probably the neatest thing at the park is the train, which runs in winter as well as summer.
Now, if you’re serious about our National Parks and want to spend time touring them in earnest, the $80 annual pass pays for itself if you’re visiting at least 4-5 parks during that year. The pass admits 1 vehicle, so all you have to do is load up your family and your gear and hit the road. While the annual pass doesn’t cover camping or additional activities, finding cheap or even free campsites is easy in and around national parks.