I love finding a little diamond in the rough and that is exactly what Ohiopyle State Park area in Laurel Highlands is. One afternoon we were looking for something to do in the Midwest area to go and adventure at but we were coming up short on ideas. It seemed anything worth going to was a long distance away or we had already done it. None of us were up for a long drive and we only had a short amount of time for the trip. I vaguely remembered someone mentioning an area called Ohiopyle to me a NOLS First Aid class that I had taken Rachel to and decided to look it up. As we  quickly read over the area and the things one could do there we were instantly intrigued and we decided on the whim to go on an outdoor adventure in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania.

Ohiopyle State Park Visitor Center

Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania is a small little town with some quaint shops, little eateries, bike rental locations, and white water rafting trips. (and a lot more!)  We did not have time to walk the town and window shop due to time constraints but we will go back sometime to do that. One spot we did visit was the Ohiopyle Visitor Center, which I would recommend you do first if you can. It gets your feet wet about the area, with things to do and the history of Ohiopyle. We enjoyed viewing the falls and the wildflowers on the grounds at the center. You can spend 45-60 minutes at the visitor center as you contemplate what you would want to do for your adventurous day.

We only had one night and 2 half days in the area and we packed as much in as we could with our limited time.

Day 1:

The Gleason family always loves to fit in some history of an area we are visiting and what a treat to find Fort Necessity National Battlefield. We are National Park junkies and can NEVER get enough of what they have to offer. Did you know George Washington was part of this little fort? That route 40 began here? That the stage was being set for the Revolutionary War? If you answered no, you’re not alone, we did not either!

There are 3 historical areas here that you can see, the main museum and fort area, Mount Washington Tavern and Braddocks Gravesite. It took us a good 2 hours to do everything because we hiked a small hill from the fort area to Mount Washington Inn.

After the National Battlefield, we went to the natural waterslide area in Ohiopyle State Park for the rest of the day.

NATURAL WATERSLIDES!

Admittedly, I was kind of wondering what kind of grandma goes down things like this. The kids ran off and threw themselves into the fun, however, I stood back and observed for a bit. I think the kids came 1,000 times in 5 minutes begging me to try it. I took a deep breath, grabbed the kids by the hand and went for it. I have not had that much fun in forever.

PRO-Tip: Make sure to have water shoes. You can find my favorite style at this link to REI.

When evening was coming we honestly did not want to leave the slides but it was dinner time and the type one diabetic had run out of snacks. This area is WAY AWESOME and we HIGHLY recommend you make it here sometime in your life. (BUCKETLIST IT!)

There is NOTHING like riding nature made rock water slides and enjoying the outdoors at the same time!
Place to Stay

Lodging in the area of Ohiopyle is at a premium and since we were last-minute visitors we ended up in a little town called Uniontown, PA. It was quite nice with lots of local joints to eat and hotels to stay at. Fortunately we were able to get a room at the Hilton Garden Inn which was conveniently located off of the highway, plus there were ample restaurants nearby and a mall for evening entertainment.

We were so tired after our afternoon of adventure we went to Panera Bread for dinner since it was fast and yummy. Matt and I were too exhausted after playing in nature to go out for anything more after dinner. BUT THOSE KIDS had to swim in the pool for a bit before bed 🙂

The rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn were very nice and clean, with a great pool area and a cold continental breakfast that was included. However, they did have an option to add hot items for extra $$. I would definitely stay here again.

Day 2

We knew we wanted to be home before 9:00 pm so we were up and moving pretty quickly. After breakfast, we hopped into the car and headed to Braddock’s gravesite. This was an interesting area and it was sobering to see where the road came through and how difficult the move west was for many who have gone before us. Roads seem all too common now but imagining what these people encountered before us was thought-provoking.

After the Broderick site we honestly did not know what we wanted to do next because there was soooo much to choose from.

We love hiking and the peninsula was calling but we had a diabetes issue we were dealing with so we needed something less strenuous. This health thing also made it so we could not go white water rafting with the family, much to the kids dismay.

After some dilberation, we chose to go biking on the Great Allegheny Passage. This is a well-maintained trail that is level and easily used by a family.

PRO TIP: As a family, decide how far you want to go out and then remember you have to turn around and head back to Ohiopyle.

Our family went about 4 miles out and 4 miles back. The main objective was to go over both low and high bridges which offer amazing views of the area.

How We Found a Reputable Outfitter

How do you find a reputable bike rental place? Adventure hub? Whitewater Rafting guides? We did not have much time to research and I had been given a coupon book from PA Welcome Center when we were on US 70, so we looked there. The rate I found was $15.00 for the whole day with a company called Wilderness-Voyagers.

These guys are a little hard to find but we really enjoyed using them as our outfitter. The employees were helpful and gave us the best rates possible.

Wilderness-Voyagers stood out because they have plenty of parking, their own bathhouse and awesome store with lots of goodies! I spoke with Tracy while I was there and she said that at their location, “They are more about quality than quantity” and we could see that as well.

I would also suggest getting a Laurel Highlands Visitor Guide because it will give you some great ideas about the area and important information. It’s a must-have for ready travel ideas and tips for your trip to the Laurel Highlands. You can check out the link or contact them at 800-333-5661 for more information.

Sadly, our time in Ohiopyle had to come to an end, but we look forward to returning there very soon and finishing out what they have to offer, backcountry hiking, rafting and so much more! #bucketlist of things to do there. You have to take an outdoor adventure in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania!

Happy Adventuring!
Brandy

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not buy these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your outdoor goals.

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