Loyalhanna River Kayaking – Ohiopyle State Park, PA

OHIOPYLE, Pa. (March 6, 2024) – Ohiopyle has long been known as one of the best places for outdoor adventure in the Eastern United States. Now, the charming Fayette County borough, surrounded by Ohiopyle State Park, can earn a new title: Best Small Town in the Northeast.

A panel of experts and USA Today’s 10Best editors has selected Ohiopyle as a Readers’ Choice Awards nominee. Individuals have a chance to support Ohiopyle  – one of 20 locations eligible for the 2024 Best Small Town in the Northeast award – by voting daily online through Monday, April 1 at https://10best.usatoday.com/awards/travel/best-small-town-in-the-northeast-2024/ohiopyle-pennsylvania/.

2022 Photo Contest Winner, Clare Kaczmarek at Ohiopyle State Park

With its idyllic location along the banks of the Youghiogheny River and encompassed by the lush embrace of Ohiopyle State Park, the town offers a perfect blend of tranquility and excitement for visitors and residents alike. From cascading waterfalls to winding hiking trails, Ohiopyle beckons adventurers to explore its captivating landscapes and discover the wonders of the great outdoors in the Laurel Highlands.

“The significance of Ohiopyle and Ohiopyle State Park in the Laurel Highlands runs deeper than most visitors will ever realize,” said Ann Nemanic, executive director of GO Laurel Highlands. “As Pennsylvania’s largest state park, Ohiopyle is a destination for any outdoor enthusiast. Whitewater rafting, an abundance of hiking trails, unique native fauna, waterfalls, and a hub for cyclists on the Great Allegheny Passage all mesh in over 20,000 acres of natural beauty. Native Americans named and respected the ‘white, frothy water’ that so many enjoy today. Ohiopyle is a four-season destination and provides all the amenities one would want nestled in a picturesque river/trail town. Come for a visit; we can assure you this will not be a one-and-done experience.”

A family takes a selfie in front of a waterfall.

With a population of 37 according to the 2021 census, Ohiopyle certainly fits the “small town” category, but Mayor Mark McCarty says the number of year-round residents is probably closer to a dozen. Ohiopyle’s nomination isn’t surprising to McCarty, who has called the borough home since the state park was dedicated in 1971 and has served as mayor for decades.

“I realized it was a wonderful small town more than 50 years ago,” he said. “I left Pittsburgh and ran away to the mountains and never looked back.”

The Youghiogheny River runs through the heart of town, with the 20-foot drop of Ohiopyle Falls visible from Main Street and four outfitter services offering whitewater rafting trips on the river, ranging from family-friendly floats to wet-and-wild adventures. Kayaking, fishing and swimming are also popular activities in the Yough, which recently was nominated as Pennsylvania’s river of the year.

DTN - ROS - Ohiopyle Trading Post & River Tours - "B"

Over the years, the town’s popularity has grown along with the outdoor activities available in it. Backpackers flock to the borough to access the trailhead of the 70-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, while cyclists riding the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage – which USA Today readers named one of the nation’s top recreational trails – pedal above Main Street on the Ohiopyle Low Bridge.

“The tourism has picked up, especially with the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail through town,” said Jessica Kruse, Ohiopyle borough council president. “There’s been an increase in lodging in town that means more people can stay. They used to come for day trips. Now, with so many opportunities, there are longer stays – weekend stays, three-day stays and even weeklong stays.”

Mountain biking, Ohiopyle State Park

Ohiopyle State Park attracts more than one million visitors per year, with the adventurous testing their nerve at the Meadow Run Natural Waterslides while waterfall lovers gather at Cucumber Falls, an Instagrammable 30-foot bridal waterfall that is just yards from a parking lot.

“Outdoor recreation drives the businesses in Ohiopyle,” McCarty said. “They’re all based on accommodating the visitor that comes to Ohiopyle.”


Outdoor adventures aren’t the only reason to visit Ohiopyle. It’s also a popular spot for architecture lovers. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is 3 1/2 miles north of town, while Kentuck Knob, another home designed by the architectural genius, lies two miles to the west.

The popularity of Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands has been showcased multiple times by USA Today 10Best, which provides users with original, unbiased, and experiential travel content of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the U.S. and around the world. Its staff is made up of a collection of local travel experts that specialize in the region or city they write about. Keystone State Park was named the Best Destination for Fall Foliage in the U.S., and the Foggy Goggle at Seven Springs Mountain Resort was chosen the Best Apres-Ski Bar in North America. Ohiopyle outfitter Wilderness Voyageurs was voted one of the 10 Best Whitewater Rafting Tours last year, and Greensburg’s El Diablo Brewing Co. was one of the nation’s top new breweries in recently concluded voting.

Lower Yough Rafting

Kruse sees Ohiopyle’s recognition from USA Today as a chance to bring even more positive attention to the tiny borough.

“This nomination is a reflection of our community’s dedication, our town’s natural beauty and our collective spirit,” Kruse said. “Our town’s nomination is a remarkable opportunity for us to come together as a community and showcase the qualities that make Ohiopyle an outstanding place to live and visit.”

Great Allegheny Passage Fall

About Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands
A magnificent mountainous region, the Laurel Highlands is an outdoors lover’s paradise that spans 3,000 square miles in southwestern Pennsylvania. Located just an hour east of Pittsburgh, the beautiful four-season destination offers spectacular natural scenery, outstanding skiing, hiking, biking and golfing opportunities, historic sites and attractions, family activities and world-class resorts. Notable destinations within the region include four architectural masterpieces by Frank Lloyd Wright – Fallingwater®, Kentuck Knob, Mäntylä and Duncan House – as well as Nemacolin, Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Flight 93 National Memorial, Idlewild and Soak Zone, whitewater rafting in Ohiopyle State Park and much more.

Located within 200 miles of the major metropolitan areas of Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Washington D.C., Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands can be easily accessed from exits 67, 75, 91 and 110 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Visitors to the Laurel Highlands can find information online at GoLaurelHighlands.com. Established in 1958, GO Laurel Highlands, formerly known as Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, is the official destination marketing organization for Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland counties in southwestern Pennsylvania.