Ricketts Glen State Park is a Pennsylvania state park on 13,050 acres (5,280 ha) in Columbia, Luzerne, and Sullivan counties in Pennsylvania in the United States. Ricketts Glen is a National Natural Landmark known for its old-growth forest and 24 named waterfalls along Kitchen Creek, which flows down the Allegheny Front escarpment from the Allegheny Plateau to the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians. The park is near the borough of Benton on Pennsylvania Route 118 and Pennsylvania Route 487, and is in five townships: Sugarloaf in Columbia County, Fairmount and Ross in Luzerne County, and Colley and Davidson in Sullivan County.
Ricketts Glen’s land was once home to Native Americans. From 1822 to 1827, a turnpike was built along the course of PA 487 in what is now the park, where two squatters harvested cherry trees to make bed frames from about 1830 to 1860. The park’s waterfalls were one of the main attractions for a hotel from 1873 to 1903; the park is named for the hotel’s proprietor, R. Bruce Ricketts, who built the trail along the waterfalls. By the 1890s Ricketts owned or controlled over 80,000 acres (320 km2; 120 sq mi) and made his fortune clearcutting almost all of that land, including much of what is now the park; however he preserved about 2,000 acres (810 ha) of virgin forest in the creek’s three glens. The sawmill was at the village of Ricketts, which was mostly north of the park. After his death in 1918, Ricketts’ heirs began selling land to the state for Pennsylvania State Game Lands.
Plans to make Ricketts Glen a national park in the 1930s were ended by budget issues and the Second World War; Pennsylvania began purchasing the land in 1942 and fully opened Ricketts Glen State Park in 1944. The Benton Air Force Station, a Cold War radar installation in the park, operated from 1951 to 1975 and still serves as airport radar for nearby Wilkes-Barre and as the Red Rock Job Corps Center. Improvements since the creation of the state park include a new dam for the 245-acre (99 ha) Lake Jean, the breaching of two other dams Ricketts built, trail modifications, and a fire tower. In 1999 Hurricane Floyd briefly closed the park and downed thousands of trees; helicopter logging protected the ecosystem while harvesting lumber worth nearly $7 million, some of which paid for a new park office in 2001.
The park offers hiking, ten cabins, camping (one of the two camping areas is on a peninsula in the lake), horseback riding, and hunting. Lake Jean is used for swimming, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. In winter there is cross-country skiing, ice fishing on the lake, and ice climbing on the frozen falls. The Glens Natural Area has eight named waterfalls in Glen Leigh and ten in Ganoga Glen, these come together at Waters Meet; downstream in Ricketts Glen there are four to six named waterfalls. The park has four rock formations from the Devonian and Carboniferous periods, and is home to a wide variety of plants and animals. It was named an Important Bird Area by the Pennsylvania Audubon Society and is an Important Mammal Area too. Ricketts Glen State Park was chosen by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and its Bureau of State Parks as one of “25 Must-See Pennsylvania State Parks”.