Marissa Klinger and Kenny Marlow were on a camping trip at Bald Eagle State Park in Centre County.
At the park, the couple bought a passport book to Pennsylvania’s state parks and forest system. The small book includes information about the state’s public lands and space to track visits to each area.
“We’re like, you know, we’re gonna fill this,” said Klinger. “So that’s where, kind of where it all started from.”
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In July 2022, the couple began their journey to visit each of the 124 state parks in Pennsylvania. Klinger and Marlow wrapped up their adventure this October. They visited parks on the weekends and during vacations from work, sometimes hitting more than one park or state forest in a trip.
Life didn’t stop while they were on their journey. They got engaged while camping at Parker Dam State Park in Clearfield County. They also got a puppy during their journey and named him Kooser, after Kooser State Park in Somerset County.
“There’s so much that people don’t understand that there is to do in Pennsylvania and there’s so many different things you can see,” said Klinger. “You can go to Lake Erie, to Presque Isle State Park, there’s a beach there, you can go to the mountains in Clinton [and] Potter counties.”
Throughout the 124 state parks and state forests, they towed a travel trailer on their truck. The couple from Lavelle brought along kayaks and fishing gear.
Klinger traveled across the Kinzua Bridge in McKean County before it was knocked down by a tornado in 2003 and before it was a state park.
“That was really cool to get to see that again,” she said.
Klinger doesn’t have anything negative to say about any of the parks but said it’s apparent how frequently a park is visited by how well it’s maintained.
“You could probably find something for everybody,” she said. “Some state parks have golf courses, some have disc golf … There’s hiking, swimming pools, there’s natural areas.”
The couple, who are both 25, wrapped up their journey with a full passport book at their home state park, Tuscarora State Park in Schuylkill County.
“A highlight we would say is we found a lot of places that we like and a lot of places that we’re not going to stop going back to,” she said. “We have 10 camping trips at state parks already scheduled for next year.”