Raystown Lake, the largest lake entirely within Pennsylvania‘s borders, is Central Pennsylvania’s biggest outdoor playground yet it remains somewhat of a hidden gem.
There are lots of ways to enjoy the lake and here’s a list of ideas to get you started.
Take a Cruise on the Proud Mary Showboat
Enjoy the spectacular vistas as you leisurely sail around the lake on the Proud Mary. The showboat runs daily sightseeing cruises, dinner cruises, and private event charters.
Guests can choose to sit on the upper deck for an unobstructed view or on the enclosed lower deck where there’s also a small snack bar. On dinner cruises, the buffet is set up on this deck as well.
Sightseeing cruises last about 1 1/2 hours. As the boat sets sail, guests will enjoy narration with fun facts about the lake, its history, and its legends. Music is piped in for the background atmosphere during the last half of the 5-mile ride.
Rent a Houseboat
The hardest part about renting a houseboat might be deciding which one to rent. They range in size (from 4-10 guests) and amenities(some include a hot tub and water slide). There are also dog-friendly options!
All Seven Points Marina houseboats are equipped with a gas grill, patio furniture, large cooler, A/C and heat. Kitchens are equipped with pots, pans, dishes, glassware, etc. Houseboats also have a full bath with showers, and holding tanks for fresh and waste water.
If you’ve never driven a boat before… don’t worry, they’ll teach you everything you need to know to have a great experience on Raystown Lake.
Take a High-Speed Pontoon Boat Ride
Rent a pontoon by the hour or day or arrange for a sightseeing tour of the lake through Seven Points Marina.
Our guide not only showed off lots of pretty lake views, he told us all about the underwater city of Aitch, Sheep Rock Shelter, and the legend of Pennysylvania’s Lochness Monster.
For the most serene and tranquil kayaking experience, take a late afternoon/sunset ride when the water is calm and the boat traffic is quiet.
Paddle around the bays and coves and be sure to go under the Sheep Rock Cliffs overhang.
Arrange a kayak or SUP board rental through Rothrock Outfitters.
Visit a Scenic Overlook
There are several wonderful vantage points from which to view the lake’s beauty.
- Raystown Lake Visitor Center Overlook
- Ridenour Overlook – View the lake and the dam from this overlook on Henderson Hollow Road.
- Hawn’s Overlook – Park and walk 300 feet to this sunset-perfect lookout point.
- Raystown Lake Dam – Check out the view from the pagoda at the top and from the spillway at the bottom where you may spot bald eagles.
Stay at Lake Raystown Resort
Central Pennsylvania’s Raystown Lake is full of family fun and outdoor adventure and one of the best places to stay is at Lake Raystown Resort.
Its relaxing waterfront location, variety of accommodation options, and numerous resort activities make it the perfect place to enjoy the lake.
- Lodge – I stayed in one of the hotel-like lodge rooms, each of which enjoys a view of the lake through a wooded hillside. Amenities include a kitchenette, refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker and Wifi service. The lodge is located near the conference center.
- Villas – With waterfront or lake views, these are the most luxurious of Raystown Lake Resort’s accommodation options.
- Bungalows – Condo-style beachfront bungalows are located steps from the resort’s beach.
- Hemlock Cabins – A unique cliffside location and wide porch overlooking the lake.
- Pine Cabins – These rustic log cabins are the closest to the lake.
- Cottages – Sleep up to seven in these cozy cottages with master bedroom, loft and two pull-out sofas.
- Yurts – Circular, framed tent-like structures located in more private areas. The yurts offer respite from rain, bugs and extreme temperatures but the skylight view of the starry skies keeps you connected to the outdoors as you fall asleep. The bathhouse is in a separate building.
- Campsites – Tent and RV sites include water, electric (30 or 50 amp service), wireless internet and cable hook-ups, fire ring and a picnic table.
Raystown Lake Legends and Lore
To fully appreciate the magic and mystique of Raystown Lake, its fun to learn about the lake’s legends.
It all began with a town called Aitch, the remains of which lie on the northwestern shore of Raystown Lake. Legend has it that the town was flooded when the current (and second) dam was built by the Army Corps of Engineers, drowning the residents and submerging the entire town below the waters of the lake. It was flooded, but the idea that people drowned is absurd, of course. Nearly as absurd as the legend of Raystown Ray.
Raystown Ray is Pennsylvania’s Lochness Monster. People have reportedly seen a large serpent-like creature in Raystown Lake and this sea monster has been named “Raystown Ray”, certainly not a very scary name but some people also believe he’s a shy vegetarian, soooo…
Raystown Lake Resources
RAYSTOWN LAKE VISITOR CENTER
6993 Seven Points Road, Suite 2
Hesston, PA 16647
PROUD MARY SHOWBOAT
Hours: Call for specific times. Cruises run from Memorial Day through early November.
Address: 3101 Chipmunk Crossing
Entriken PA 16638
SEVEN POINTS MARINA
5922 Seven Points Marina Drive
Tip: Don’t miss the fish feeding station at the marina.
5922 Seven Points Marina Drive
Hesston, PA 16657
LAKE RAYSTOWN RESORT
3101 Chipmunk Crossing
Entriken PA 16638