Welcome to Lehigh Gorge State Park. This 4,548-acre park stretches 32 miles along the Lehigh River from the Francis E. Walter Dam in the north to Jim Thorpe in the south. Carved by the power of the Lehigh River, the park's deep gorge, steep walls and beautiful rock outcrops provide a scenic backdrop for viewing wildlife, waterfalls and outstanding landscapes.
Parking areas, restrooms, trailheads and boat launches provide easy access to the park at White Haven, Rockport and Glen Onoko.
One way to experience the park is through whitewater boating.
Rafters, kayakers and canoeists enjoy Class II and III rapids throughout the gorge. Licensed whitewater outfitters are available. Scheduled water releases from Francis E. Walter Dam normally provide adequate water levels.
The over 20-mile non-motorized Lehigh Gorge Trail provides hikers, bikers, wildlife watchers, hunters and anglers access to the park.
In winter, 15 miles are open to snowmobiles and more than 20 miles to cross-country skiers.
History enthusiasts will also find the park rich in resources. In the early 1800s, famed naturalist John James Audubon visited the gorge to paint birds. He heard the sounds of the crosscut saw as lumbermen fell huge trees and logs were floated as far south as Philadelphia.
By 1841, sawmills dotted the landscape between White Haven and Mauch Chunk (present-day Jim Thorpe) and provided lumber for mine supports and canal boats.
The discovery of anthracite coal nearby in 1791 fueled the need for a transportation system to haul coal and goods to markets in the south. Josiah White, co-founder of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, hired Edwin A. Douglas to construct the "Upper Grand Section" of the Lehigh Canal.
This slackwater navigation system overcame a 600-foot drop in elevation from White Haven to Mauch Chunk by using mules to pull canal boats through 29 locks and 20 dams. When a flood severely damaged the canal in 1862, it was abandoned in favor of more efficient railroads.
Where hundreds once labored, thousands now recreate. Remnants and reminders of these early industries dot the gorge. Wayside exhibits remind us of the past by highlighting historical events. Lehigh Jorge State Park is located in the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.