The Kinzua Bridge State Park was named “Best in Culture” by the American Bus Association, and more than 150,000 visitors in the first seven months of the year show that the public agrees.
Linda Devlin, executive director of the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau, expressed her excitement at the designation on Thursday.
“The staff at Kinzua Bridge State Park have been doing a wonderful job in creating and presenting interesting and experiential programs both for motorcoach groups and students,” Devlin said. “The amazing asset of the Kinzua Sky Walk attracts the motorcoach groups, but it is the programming presented by the staff which earned Kinzua Bridge State Park the designation of ‘2019 Best of the Best’ by the American Bus Association’s Destinations magazine.”
The state park was chosen out of nearly 100 entries from throughout the United States and was one of only 22 chosen in the culture category. ABA will showcase Kinzua Bridge State Park in the September/October issue of Destinations magazine, a guide to North American group travel destinations.
The park is in good company. Others named in the culture category included the B.B. King Museum in Indianola, Miss., Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., The Biltmore in Asheville, N.C., the Gettysburg Heritage Center and the New York City Ballet.
And what a time of year for the designation to come — just in time for the magnificent fall foliage display visible from the Sky Walk.
Devlin explained the number of visitors in September and October is always higher.
“In 2018, September and October, 79,865 visitors signed the visitor’s book at the Kinzua Bridge State Park,” she said.
And she’s looking for that number to be higher this year. “I would say over 80,000 during the two months this year, as visitation continues to increase.”
The Kinzua Sky Walk is just one of the many attractions near the Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania’s only national forest, which encompasses more than 513,000 acres of public lands for hiking, mountain biking, hunting, fishing and camping.
“The unique and exhilarating experience of peering hundreds of feet down into the valley through glass on the skywalk at Kinzua Bridge State Park in McKean County is drawing in growing numbers of visitors from across the country and world, and accolades,” added Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn.
Dunn led Gov. Tom Wolf and first lady Frances Wolf on a tour of the new visitor center and park in 2017. While the governor went out on the Sky Walk, the first lady was a bit more hesitant of the more-than-200-foot-tall structure.
In 2011, DCNR created a skywalk utilizing six of the remaining towers of the historic Kinzua Viaduct after most of the structure was toppled by a tornado in 2003. This gave visitors a view of the Kinzua Creek Valley Gorge below. In 2014, the Kinzua Skywalk was named one of the Top 10 Skywalks in the world.
“Nearly 10 million travelers visit our national and state park sites each year,” said Carrie Fisher Lepore, deputy secretary of the Office of Marketing, Tourism and Film for the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. “Pennsylvania’s greater-than-great outdoors boasts endless one-of-a-kind experiences, and Kinzua Bridge State Park is a true gem of the state.”