R.B. Winter State Park Pennsylvania
Camp Pennsylvania: I’m talking with Mike Crowley today. He’s the Park Manager at Raymond B. Winter State Park. Mike, why don’t you get us started with telling us about how long that Park has been there and maybe giving us a little bit of history about it?
Mike Crowley: Well, I think that this Park officially, or unofficially, started in 1933, during the Civil Conservation Core days. There was a camp that was setup in 1933, and the CCC built their first dam. Create Halfway Lake in the Park in 1933, so I guess that was pretty much the start of the State Park and it was the CCC camp for a number of years, until that was disbanded and then it was just a recreational area within the forest district. And then, shortly after that, we kind of created State Parks, and so while it was Halfway State Park, and then, in 1950-is, it was renamed R.B. Winter State Park to honor the forester who really took over this area, because it had been clear-cut and kind of just devastated over in the early 1900s. And so, they replanted trees and really that was the start of this whole conservation effort, and so it just kind of really took off from there.
CP: Sure. Now, what types of camping do you offer there?
Mike Crowley: We have 61 campsites. So, it’s everything from you can just come in with your car and then we’ve got two sites where you can walk like 30 yards back into the woods and there’s a nice site all set up there for you to RV camping, which has electric hook-ups and then there is water for you to fill up your RV as you enter the Park.
Mike Crowley: And then we do have three camping cottages, which would allow people to – basically it’s like a walled tent. So, a one-room, small cabin that has bunk beds and a table and some electric heat if you needed it. And a porch with a picnic table out on front. So, for those that are not comfortable with sleeping on the ground, there are beds in there for you for that aspect of it.
CP: Oh, okay, cool. What are the most popular activities for guests there?
Mike Crowley: Our lake is probably the focus with the beach. However, the water rarely gets above 60 degrees. It is artesian spring-fed.
CP: No one’s hopping in it.
Mike Crowley: It’s got to be really hot outside for adults to go in. Kids don’t seem to mind it, but the adults kind of. Unless it’s 90 degrees, you don’t see too many adults in there. So, we have that. Basically, just picnicking, and then I would say our trail system. We are pretty much a trailhead for everything. The Midstate Trail goes through the Park, which is 250 miles long.
CP: Oh, wow.
Mike Crowley: We have several backpackers. Day hikers. Mountain bikers. In the winter, we have cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice-skating, and the campground is a big turn on.
CP: Sure. What are some other attractions in and around that area outside of the Park that you might recommend checking out?
Mike Crowley: There’s really a lot to do in this area. There are a lot of different Amish communities, so there’s a lot of different Amish shops to kind of get a feel for Amish baked goods or handmade materials, whether it’s leatherwork or woodworking. There’s an artisan route in this area, so there’s just a lot of different things that are handmade in this area as well as antiquing. (Unclear 4:45.8) River is right down the road. There are some really great wineries. There are just a lot of different features that are in this area. Penn State is right down the road.
CP: Fun. Two more questions for you, Mike. If you were going to spend just one hour at R.B. Winter State Park, how would you spend your time there?
Mike Crowley: I think it would just be walking around the lake. I mean it is a small lake, but it is very beautiful. There’s a nice little trail that goes around it, and you can get a real quick hike and go to the overlook, which you’d get your workout, but it would just be relaxing and just hanging out in the woods and listening to the birds, and just checking out wildlife.
CP: Sure. And last question: if you were going to spend just one night at R.B. Winter State Park, which site would you stay at and why?
Mike Crowley: I would stay at Site 29. It’s one of our walk-in sites, so it’s just really neat. You can’t see any other sites and it just makes you feel as though you are in the middle of the woods, but you are very close to the other sites and the shower house, and you have all the creature comforts there, but it makes you feel like you’re much further out.
CP: All right, perfect. Well, thank you for that tip on the campsite and thank you, Mike, for taking some time out of your day to chat with us about R.B. Winter State Park in Pennsylvania.
Mike Crowley: Great, thank you.