The sun rises early and begins baking the inside of a slightly stuffy tent filled with gentle smokiness: memories of countless campfires over the years. My son softly groans; rolls over and pulls blue eyeglasses from a nylon pouch fixed to the inside of the tent wall, pulls them down over his head and his world suddenly exists in high definition again. He presses palms toward the sky and widely yawns with closed eyes under a mop of thick brown hair sticking out in every-which way.
My daughter already has the tent unzipped and slips through a little girl-sized opening, disappearing into the adventurous outside. She pauses, glancing between the box of breakfast food and the bathrooms. I ask if she’d like bacon with breakfast, which makes her decision easier.
“Yes, please, Mama!” she chirps as she sprints toward the bath house.
The roller coasters haven’t yet started running and the campground still has that morning hush. Soft voices can’t compete with joyful birdsong. Soon, though, I know the quiet will be broken by shrieking voices, splashing pool water and the harsh clack-clack of the wooden Phoenix coaster rising from the ashes every few minutes.
The yearly tradition of going camping at Knoebels began for me at an early age. My family went with another family just about every year that I can remember. I have many fond memories of burnt marshmallows (just the way I like them), bicycling with new friends, zipping down the speed slide, and going on the Cosmotron ride with its loud music and strobe lights.
It’s a tradition we started carrying on in my own family. The first time my youngest child, now 5-years old, camped, she was still wearing diapers and chomping on a pacifier.
And we don’t do RV camping – we do tent camping. Back to nature. Small footprint. Campfire cooking.
So what makes Knoebels Amusement Resort such a special place?
Located in wooded Elysburg, PA, slightly east of the center of the state and under three hours’ drive time from Philadelphia, Knoebels promises a lifetime of memories in an amusement park that has free parking and free park entry.
Here are three reasons why you should consider a camping trip to Knoebels this year.
1. It’s affordable amusement park fun for the whole family. First off, entry to the park is free. You read that correctly – it is free. This means that if Nana wants to come up and visit for the afternoon and take the grandkids around the park, she doesn’t have to pay an entrance fee just for hanging out when she doesn’t plan on getting on any rides.
Every ride is individually priced and can be paid for with paper tickets that are sold in books, and those prices range from about $3.00 for the Phoenix roller coaster to $1.00 for Pony Carts, a kiddie ride for the wee adventurers. All day ride passes can be purchased for prices starting at $24.00 for those under 48 inches tall and $38.00 for those above 48 inches tall.
Picnic areas are free for all too. Bring your own food or grab a meal at one of the many concession stands throughout the park or a full-service restaurant .
Pro tip: The pierogies at the Round Stand and ice cream from nearby Old Mill is a must.
2. Knoebels Amusement Resort has a water park nestled between the campground and park rides. On a hot summer day, park guests won’t find a more refreshing way to cool off than spending a few hours swimming in the fresh mountain spring water at Crystal Pool.
With a variety of water slides – lazy tube and speed – a pool for accomplished swimmers and another just perfect for kids and those who aren’t yet swimming, the water park shows in another way why Knoebels is ideal for the whole family unit. The price to swim all day is only $5 (ages 2 through 11) and $7 (12 and over), making it an inexpensive way to spend a day.
Pro tip: The water at Crystal Pool is cold so don’t forget a plush beach towel and it’s important to keep your legs crossed when going down the speed slide or else OUCH.
3. The campground offers options for a variety of camping styles. As I mentioned above, we are a tent-camping family. It’s fun and easy to do on the cheap when there isn’t the added cost of fuel and a camper or RV. With that said, I realize there are many who prefer the rugged luxury of a pull-behind camper or a second home on wheels. Knoebels has everyone covered with spacious camp sites, electric hookup for lights (and charging electronic devices), a dumping station for RVs, and many platforms for a flat surface under a tent.
You’re never far from a bathroom, bath house, running water, and there are coin-operated washers and dryers.
Purchase wood by the bucket. Pack it yourself in the wood area near the camp office and haul it back to your site – just remember to return the bucket!
The camp store has pretty much everything you forgot to pack and now realize you need: bug spray and sunblock, paper plates and Spam, and obvious essentials like bacon that I can’t believe anyone could forget.
If you’re a church-goer, you might enjoy the non-denominational service on Sunday morning before heading back to your campsite and cracking open a beer or making a mojito to go with grilled fish tacos for lunch. No alcohol is allowed in the park but it is allowed at your site.
Standard campsites start at $46 per night.
Don’t have a tent or an RV and still want to spend a long weekend or longer at Knoebels? No problem! There are cabins and cottages available for rent.
Pro tip: This book teaches how to cook on a campfire or charcoal grill like you’ve been doing it for years. This is an affiliate link, so if you purchase the book I will receive a small amount of money. I love the book and I think you will, too!
Learn more about Knoebels Amusement Resort on its website.
Are you ready for a camping trip to Knoebels Amusement Resort yet?
Disclaimer: this post contains an affiliate link but it is not a sponsored post.