Exploring Knoebels – PA’s Largest Free-Admission Amusement Park

Exploring Knoebels the largest free-admission amusement park in Pennsylvania.

Knoebels Amusement Park near Elysburg, Pennsylvania is consistently ranked as one of the best amusement parks in the United States.

The Impulse is one of the rollercoasters at Knoebels in Elysburg.
The Impulse rollercoaster features a vertical lift hill, cobra roll, and a zero g roll.

And a big part of why this park is so popular is that so much of it is FREE to experience!

Knoebels is the largest free-admission amusement park in the United States.
Knoebels is the largest free-admission amusement park in the United States.

Parking – it’s free!

Free parking at Knoebels.
There is plenty of free parking.

Admission to the park – it’s free!

An early entrance to Knoebels which opened in 1926.
An early entrance to Knoebels, which opened in 1926.

The various museums and shows in the park – free!

Entrance to the Anthracite Mining Museum and Knoebels History Museum.
Entrance to the Anthracite Mining Museum and Knoebels History Museum, with free admission to both.

In fact, the only things you pay for at Knoebels are ride tickets, games, food and drinks (unless you chose to bring your own, which the park allows), and souvenirs.

One of several gift shops at Knoebels.
One of several gift shops.

History of Knoebels Amusement Park

Knoebels Amusement Park first opened on July 4, 1926 with a swimming pool, a steam-powered carousel, a few games, and a restaurant.

The Crystal Pool at Knoebels holds nearly 900,000 gallons of water.
The Crystal Pool holds nearly 900,000 gallons of water.

The park has expanded from those humble beginnings to now cover 45 acres, with more than 60 rides!

Knoebels Amusement Park features more than 60 rides.
The park features more than 60 rides, spread out over 45 acres.

What I’m going to share with you here are just some of the highlights, but there really is something for everyone to enjoy at Knoebels Amusement Park.

The Giant Ferris Wheel at Knoebels.
The Giant Ferris Wheel and the Downdraft.

The Best Rides at Knoebels

The rides are understandably the big draw for most people when visiting Knoebels, and the park breaks them down into three categories: kiddie, family, and thrill.

Experiencing the Giant Flume water ride at at Knoebels.
Experiencing the Giant Flume water ride on a summer afternoon.

Kiddie Rides at Knoebels

The Red Baron allows kids to pilot their own biplane up and down as they fly in circles.

The Red Baron is one of may "kiddie rides" at Knoebels.
The Red Baron is one of many popular “kiddie rides” at the park.

Knoebels’ smaller, antique wooden carousel is over 100 years old and features several exterior scenery panels depicting local landmarks.

One of two carousels at Knoebels.
The smaller of two carousels at the park.

In all, Knoebels rates 23 of it’s rides at the “kiddie” level.

The Flying Tigers kiddie ride at Knoebels.
The Flying Tigers kiddie ride.

Family Rides at Knoebels

Kozmo’s Kurves is a mini steel “kiddie coaster” that’s fun for the whole family.

Kosmos Kurves is one of the "family rollercoasters" at Knoebels.
Kosmos Kurves is a family-friendly mini rollercoaster.

The Antique Cars allows you to drive your own classic car through a scenic wooded area and underneath the Phoenix Roller Coaster.

The Antique Cars ride at Knoebels.
The Antique Cars ride.

In all, Knoebels rates 20 of it’s rides at the “family” level.

The Balloon Race ride at Knoebels.
The Balloon Race ride.

Thrill Rides at Knoebels

When most people think of thrill rides, they think of rollercoasters!

The Twister is one of the wooden rollercoasters at Knoebels.
The Twister is one of the wooden rollercoasters at the park.

Knoebels has six operating rollercoasters, including the Phoenix, a wooden coaster built in 1947 for an amusement park in Texas and relocated to Knoebels in 1985.

The Phoenix at Knoebels is a historic wooden rollercoaster built in 1947.
The Phoenix is a historic wooden rollercoaster built in 1947.

The Impulse is the newest rollercoaster at Knoebels, a steel coaster which opened in 2015.

The Impulse is the newest steel rollercoaster at Knoebels.
The Impulse is the newest steel rollercoaster at the park.

The StratosFear is a 148 foot tower that slowly takes you to the very top before your carriage is released into a free fall reaching speeds of up to 47 mph!

The Stratos-fear is one of the "thrill rides" at Knoebels.
The StratosFear is one of the “thrill rides” at the park.

The Giant Flume is a popular water ride on a hot day.

The Giant Flume at Knoebels.
The Giant Flume.

The Super Round-Up allows you to experience “centrifugal sensations” as this spinning wheel pins you against the wall.

The Super Round Up is one of the thrill rides at Knoebels.
The Super Round Up is one of the many “thrill rides” at the park.

In all, Knoebels rates 21 of it’s rides as “thrill rides”.

The Haunted Mansion at Knoebels.
The Haunted Mansion.

Non-Ride Attractions at Knoebels

There are plenty of outstanding non-ride attractions and displays at Knoebels as well.

Blacksmithing shop at Knoebels.
Blacksmithing shop in the Americana section of the park.

The Anthracite Mining Museum is Knoebels’ tribute to the local coal heritage, featuring genuine tools and artifacts from the mining days.

Inside the free Anthracite Mining Museum at Knoebels.
Inside the free Anthracite Mining Museum.

The Knoebels History Museum shows how the park evolved from 1926 until today.

Inside the Knoebels History Museum.
Inside the Knoebels History Museum.

The Knoebels Carousel Museum features over 50 carousel figures, scenery panels, chariot sides and other memorabilia from carousels dating back to 1870.

A lion that first appeared on a carousel in western PA in the late 1890s.
A lion that first appeared on a carousel in western PA in the late 1890s.

An interesting side note about the lion figure pictured above – it first appeared on a carousel at the Cascades Park in western PA in 1897, a now-abandoned amusement park that I previously wrote about HERE.

Origins of the lion on display in the Knoebels Carousel Museum.
Origins of the lion now on display in the Carousel Museum.

The Bald Eagle Habitat features a pair of bald eagles that cannot survive in the wild, but seem to be doing fine in their spacious enclosure at Knoebels.

A pair of bald eagles that live at Knoebels.
A pair of bald eagles that live in a special enclosure at the park.

And what tourist destination would be complete without gem mining!

Gemstone mining near the Anthracite Coal Mining Museum at Knoebels.
Gemstone mining near the Anthracite Mining Museum.

Food at Knoebels

Pizza, potatoes, pierogis, burgers, fries – there are no less than 34 locations within the park to grab great food at reasonable prices.

Potato cakes are one of the many food options at Knoebels.
Potato cakes are one of the many food options at the park.

Camping at Knoebels

If you like to “stay where you play”, Knoebels operates two campgrounds and also has rental cottages available – check their OFFICIAL WEBSITE for rates and availability.

Entrance to Knoebels Campground next to the amusement park.
Entrance to Knoebels Campground next to the amusement park.

Hours and Ride Prices at Knoebels

The hours of operation and prices vary by season – the most up-to-date information can be found at THIS LINK on Knoebels’ website.

The Paratrooper ride at Knoebels.
The Paratrooper.

Regardless of the season, I find the ride prices at Knobels to be VERY reasonable when compared to other amusement parks.

Ole Smokey steam locomotive at Knoebels.
Ole Smokey steam locomotive.

Directions to Knoebels

Knoebels is located at 391 Knoebels Blvd, Elysburg, PA 17824.

Directions to Knoebels Amusement Park near Elysburg Pennsylvania.
Map to Knoebels Amusement Park near Elysburg.

Final Thoughts

I can’t think of anything not to like about Knoebels – it’s a beautiful, well-run, reasonably-priced amusement park with many “freebies” that other parks charge a small fortune for.

The Italian Trapeze ride at Knoebels.
The Italian Trapeze.

If you’ve never visited Knoebels before, make this the year you do!

The Grand Carousel at Knoebels.
The Grand Carousel.

DelGrosso’s Amusement Park has been a central PA tradition for more than 100 years!

DelGrosso's Amusement Park is a free-admission park in Tipton Pennsylvania.
DelGrosso’s Amusement Park in Blair County.

Like Knoebels, parking and park admission are FREE at DelGrosso’s!

Some of the rides for older kids and adults at DelGrosso's Amusement Park in Blair County Pennsylvania.
Two of the many rides for older kids and adults at DelGrosso’s Amusement Park.

Laguna Splash is a fabulous water park attached to DelGrosso’s Amusement Park as well, for even more summer fun!

Looking out over Laguna Splash water park at DelGrosso's.
Looking out over Laguna Splash water park.

Idlewild Park is Pennsylvania’s longest-operating amusement park!

Idlewild Park is the oldest operating amusement park in Pennsylvania.
Idlewild Park is the longest-operating amusement park in Pennsylvania.

Idlewild Park as been named “Best Childrens’ Park” by Amusement Today, and “Best Park for Families” by the National Amusement Park Historical Association.

Exploring Idlewild Park in Westmoreland County Pennsylvania.
Some of the rides and attractions at Idlewild Park in Westmoreland County.

Nearby Attractions

Located 7 miles north of Knoebels, (but about as different an experience as can be!), you’ll find the Hooded Grave Cemetery, home to what may be the only two hooded graves that exist in the United States.

Exploring the Hooded Grave Cemetery in Columbia County PA
The Hooded Grave Cemetery in Columbia County.

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Rusty Glessner is a professional photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.