(Photos provided by Visit Clearfield County)
CLEARFIELD – The Laurel Highlands were recently named a Top 10 destination in the USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice 2021 awards, with the region coming in at No. 8 of the Top 10 destinations.
Clearfield County and the Pennsylvania Wilds area also encompasses some of the most breathtaking views and helps create a positive economic impact, according to Visit Clearfield County Executive Director Josiah Jones.
“This time of the year is great with multiple fall festivals, allowing people to really explore the area a little more,” said Jones.
“It’s an economic booster for businesses – like our gas stations, local restaurants, vendors and storefronts – because people are spending a little more time here.
“The fall foliage and the festivals really do help our area.”
Susan Williams of the Clearfield County Recreation & Tourism and Curwensville Lake Authorities also mentioned the leisure activities that the area is perfect for during the fall months.
“I think our area can rival anywhere in the New England area,” she said, noting the plethora of opportunities for hiking, paddling, kayaking, camping and biking. “The views and the foliage that we have are just stunning.”
With so much to do and so much to see, it is a true luxury that many of the sights and activities are even free.
“We have a great opportunity here in Clearfield County for people to get away,” said Jones. “There is a lot of free and state-owned land.
“We are really the gateway of the PA Wilds and are fortunate to have so many highways here like Interstate 80 and Route 322 that can help bring people in from all over the state pretty easily.”
Jones particularly enjoys the drive along Route 879 through Clearfield to the Elk Country Visitor Center and traveling partly along the West Branch Susquehanna Byway.
“Aesthetically, it’s just so beautiful with no billboards and signage and it’s nice to see some people fishing and the beautiful leaves changing. It’s just so peaceful.”
For Williams, she enjoys her commute to Curwensville Lake each day and venturing into the Quehanna Wilds area. She also mentioned the elk viewing opportunities and called it a “key resource.”
“Being so close to the elk viewing area, as well as having elk in Clearfield County definitely brings in numerous campers to the lake and visitors to our area,” said Williams.
The state Department of Conservation & Natural Resources has opened up a position for the promotion of outdoor recreation to push it forward and make the commonwealth of Pennsylvania the full package for an outdoor destination, according to Jones.
A position that can help take outdoor recreation – statewide – to even bigger heights.
“We are in the center to anywhere and fall foliage says come visit,” said Williams. “There are lots of things to do and people do not need to drive far away to do them.
“The drives are great, but there are some amazing views on our local golf courses. The disc golf course at Curwensville Lake is just so beautiful and laid out lovely and has a lot of trees and color.
“It is another great way to view the foliage and a nice way to get some exercise in.”