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Overview

Luxury and wilderness exist side-by-side in the gentle peaks and valleys of the Laurel Highlands. A destination for city-weary Pittsburghers, Pennsylvania’s southern outpost of the Allegheny Mountains was the site of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, private reserve of Andrew Carnegie and his wealthy cohorts in the late 1880s. The South Fork dam held back Lake Conemaugh; when it burst in May 1889, the downstream city of Johnstown was swept away. In Johnstown today, a fine museum commemorates one of the biggest disasters in U.S. history.

The highlands are home to several scenic state parks, historic sites, an old-fashioned ...

Luxury and wilderness exist side-by-side in the gentle peaks and valleys of the Laurel Highlands. A destination for city-weary Pittsburghers, Pennsylvania’s southern outpost of the Allegheny Mountains was the site of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, private reserve of Andrew Carnegie and his wealthy cohorts in the late 1880s. The South Fork dam held back Lake Conemaugh; when it burst in May 1889, the downstream city of Johnstown was swept away. In Johnstown today, a fine museum commemorates one of the biggest disasters in U.S. history.

The highlands are home to several scenic state parks, historic sites, an old-fashioned amusement park, ski-and-golf resorts and top-level spas (one has been known to host a recent U.S. president). The village of Ohiopyle sits within the dramatic Youghiogheny Gorge (yuck-a-GAIN-ee); its 14-mile-long white-water river is a popular destination for rafters. Close by, two Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes grace this beautiful rural area, covered by pink, white and red mountain laurel each spring.

Joanne Miller
About the Expert

Joanne Miller is the author of several Moon guidebooks, including Pennsylvania Handbook, Chesapeake Bay Handbook, and Maryland/Delaware Handbook.

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Joanne Miller for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    The highlands are special year round: in spring, come to see mountain laurel cover the landscape; in summer, enjoy hiking and rafting; autumn is a must for the spectacular foliage display.