On Tuesday night, at the 14th Annual Parks and Forests Awards Banquet the staff of R. B. Winter State Park were presented with the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation Park of the Year Award!
If you were unable to attend the banquet read you can read the write-up from the award ceremony below.
The Park of the Year Award is designed to recognize a park for their exemplary or innovative work in any or all of the following: customer service; education, programming (e.g., events), or recreation; stewardship of the natural, cultural, or historic assets; and/or accommodation of special needs of visitors.
Raymond B. Winter State Park is a picturesque state park that encompasses 695 acres at the western edge of Union County. The park is rich in history and is surrounded by thousands of acres of Bald Eagle State Forest. This is a visitor-friendly park that has boundless recreational opportunities and a staff focused on customer service.
The park was purchased in 1905, and some recreational amenities were constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), along with a dam that created Halfway Lake, the focal point of the park. The lake is stocked with trout and is filled by spring-fed mountain streams. The lake features a 300-foot white sand beach popular with visitors wanting to escape the heat of the Susquehanna Valley. A total of 8.58 miles of hiking trails and a 61-site campground also entice the more than 137,000 annual visitors. The park is also complexed with Ravensburg, Sand Bridge and McCalls Dam state parks.
In late May of 2019, a microburst snapped off hundreds of trees in the park, closing the trails and even destroying buildings, but because of the hard-working staff and the help of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps the storm damage was quickly cleaned up and the park made ready for visitors.
Speaking of visitors, the park plays host to family reunions, school groups, college groups, and others, being conveniently located in the Susquehanna Valley. Park staff can be seen about the park, making all visitors feel welcomed and addressing needs.
This winter the park once again experienced storm damage, bringing down numerous trees that resulted in multi-day power outages. Again the staff quickly got to work on the cleanup process. More recently, the park decided to advance their volunteer program by working with PPFF to start a new friends group. Together they are working to improve the park and host programs, such as the snowless 2023 winter festival.
We applaud the park (and their friends) for being stewards of this iconic park, R.B. Winter State Park.