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view of the pothole at Archbald Pothole State Park

Viewing platform at Archbald Pothole State Park. Photo: Clint, Wikimedia

Although it is less than 150 acres in size, Archbald Pothole State Park is one of the most intriguing public recreational spaces in the Pennsylvania state park system.

Located at an elevation of 1,211 feet, in the northeastern part of the Keystone State, its main drawcard is the fascinating Archbald Pothole.

An enchanting, natural geologic feature that was formed around 15,000 years ago, during the Wisconsin Glacial Period. Which has been attracting interested visitors ever since it was discovered in 1884.

As well as this main focal point, the park also has a nice walking trail and is a popular spot for hiking and birding.

There is no accommodation onsite, although plenty of campgrounds reside within 30 miles of it, while the historic town of Scranton is just a 20 minute drive away.

About the pothole

The pothole was discovered by a coal miner called Patrick Mahon, whilst extending a mine shaft.

Elliptical in shape, the pothole is believed to be the biggest in the world.

About 38 feet deep, its diameter is 42 feet by 42 feet at its largest point, although it does narrow the further down it goes, to a minimum of 17 feet by 14 feet at the bottom .

Overall the pothole has a volume of around 18,600 cubic feet and could hold some 140,000 gallons of water. To fill it up, it would take 35 fire truck tankers to do so.

Cutting through layers of shale, coal and sandstone, the pothole was formed as a result of glacial meltwater.

Seasons and Hours

The park is open from the second Friday or April to the third Saturday of November.

Its day use areas open from dawn and close at dusk.

Getting There

Archbald Pothole State Park lies within easy driving distance of Philadelphia, New York, Trenton, Wilmington and Baltimore. All of which are between a 2.5 to 3.5 hour’s drive away.

The park itself is located about a 20 minute drive north of downtown Scranton.

You’ll find it in Lackawanna County, along Business Route 6, in between Blakely and Mayfield. Its coordinates are 41.513005, -75.575616.

Easily reached from Interstate 81, to get to the park you will need to take exit 191A to Business US 6 east towards Carbondale.

If you do this, the main entrance to the park will be six miles to your right. The pothole is very easy to spot as it is situated right next to the parking area.

Activities

Understandably, most visitors to the park come here to see the pothole. However there are a couple of other activities you can do during your time at Archbald.

These include the following:

Hiking at Archbald Pothole State Park

If you are wanting to explore the park on foot, there is a small loop trail which will enable you to do so.

Starting at the wayside, it follows the picturesque route of a former coal mine tram road which will take you past jagged rock ledges and through a dense forest.

Birding at Archbald Pothole State Park

Birding is a popular activity at the park, especially on the hiking trail, so be sure to bring your binoculars with you.

Some of the species of birds you can spot include blue jays, red winged blackbirds and American robin.

Nature & Wildlife

The park is home to a range of wildlife including the occasional deer, as well as turkey, squirrels, eastern newt and eastern chipmunks.

Hunting at Archbald Pothole State Park

During the established season, over 100 acres of Archbald Pothole State Park are designated for limited hunting, trapping and the training of dogs.

Common game species you can snare include deer, squirrel and turkey.

As with most state parks in Pennsylvania, the hunting of woodchucks, which you might know better as groundhogs, is not allowed.

Dog training is prohibited any time, outside of the period, of the day after Labor Day until 31st March.

If you intend to hunt in the park, be mindful that you will need a valid licence to do so. Also you will need to abide by the rules and regulations of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Other Nearby Attractions

After visiting the park, other nearby attractions you might want to check out include the Hickory Run State Park. Which features 14 acres of jumbled stone that were formed in the last glacial period by severe weather.

The Seven Tubs Natural Area is another point of interest, as it’s bedrock showcases a series of potholes called the ‘whirlpool valley’ which formed as a result of erosion by glacial meltwater.

Tannersville Cranberry Bog, is somewhere else you might want to visit too. A scenic 150-acre wetland, it boasts a stunning range of rare orchids and other carnivorous plants.

Pets at Archbald Pothole State Park

For clarification about whether it is recommended to bring pets to the park please contact its main office.

Camping at Archbald Pothole State Park

Whilst there are no overnight accommodation options within Archbald Pothole State Park itself, there are several campgrounds within a 30 mile radius of it.

These include the Frances Slocum State Park in Luzerne County, Promised Land State Park in Pike County, Varden Conservation Area in Wayne County and the Lackawanna State Park in Lackawanna County, among others.

Between them, they offer a good selection of camping options for RV, trailer and tent sites. Which range from those which come with full hookups for electric, water and sewer, to those that are primitive.

You will also find plenty of accommodation options in the city of Scranton, which is just a 25 minute drive away.

Park Location

Archbald Pothole State Park
960 Scranton Carbondale Hwy
Archbald, PA 18403
Phone: 570.945.3239

Website

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing the main attraction at Archbald Pothole State Park: