Gobbler’s Knob Is an Interestingly Innocent Destination
It’s pretty quiet most of the time at Gobbler’s Knob, but it’s a mob scene one day a year. On the second day of February, the number of curious visitors goes from a trickle to a torrent.
Crowds inundate the place and scramble to get a good look at a famous furry rodent.
What’s the big deal about this oddly named little spot?
Let’s find out!
Where Is Gobbler’s Knob?
Gobbler’s Knob is a small woodsy park on the outskirts of Punxsutawney in north-central Pennsylvania. It’s about 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh and an easy half-hour drive off Interstate 80.
Located on Woodland Avenue, Gobbler’s Knob sits on a hilltop clearing a couple of miles southeast of town via U.S. Route 119.
Pro Tip: On your way to Punxsutawney, stop at some of these cool spots along I-80 with our Interstate 80 Road Trip Guide.
What Is Gobbler’s Knob Known For?
The name of this place might make you giggle, but Gobbler’s Knob is the home of Punxsutawney Phil.
He’s a real live groundhog who makes a highly anticipated prediction every February 2. This strange annual event gives Gobbler’s Knob the somewhat grandiose nickname of “the Weather Capital of the World.”
What’s the Purpose of Groundhog Day?
Is all of this starting to ring a bell? You might have seen Punxsutawney Phil on the news, accompanied by his human handler in a top hat and tails. Or maybe you’re familiar with the classic film “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell.
If the groundhog sees his shadow, we’re in for six more weeks of winter weather. If he doesn’t, spring is on the way. This means a sunny day on February 2 might actually be bad news for warm-weather fans.
The tradition isn’t rooted in actual science, however, and Phil isn’t always right. It’s a play on a European custom of observing the behavior of hedgehogs or badgers for insight into seasonal changes.
If they return to their burrow, the reasoning goes, we’re in for more cold weather.
Visiting Gobbler’s Knob on Groundhog Day
As many as 30,000 people flock to this locale on the special day, starting to arrive in the wee hours of the morning. The overflow crowd includes dozens of members of the media. Because of its whimsical nature, the occasion tends to attract international journalists, as well.
Typically, the Groundhog Day ceremony starts well before daybreak. At 3 a.m., shuttle buses start taking visitors to Gobbler’s Knob from three different locations in town. The last bus leaves at 6:30 a.m.
There’s a variety of entertainment, and a brief fireworks display before Punxsutawney Phil takes the stage just before 7:30. Expect a festive small-town atmosphere with a bonfire, souvenirs for sale, and a (cash-only) concession stand.
Front-row seats go to the so-called Inner Circle, members of a booster club who are Phil’s most ardent supporters.
Pro Tip: While traveling around Pennsylvania, take some time to visit the Poconos for some rest and relaxation. Need help planning your trip? We put together The Ultimate Poconos Camping Guide for 2021.
Other Awesome Things to Do in Punxsutawney
While Gobbler’s Knob pretty much hibernates the rest of the year, the famous groundhog maintains a tremendous presence around town. As you can imagine, the town goes all out to try and capitalize on Phil’s popularity year-round.
Keep your camera handy as you search out and savor these Phil-related activities.
See the Punxsutawney Phil Statues
You’ll find more than 30 six-foot “Phantastic Phil” statues around town with colorful and creative decorations.
It’s fun to see all the different themes that give each one a unique identity. “Get Your Phil of Roses” calls attention to the florist, for instance. “Philatelic Phil” delivers mail while “Freedom Phil” wears a U.S. flag and carries a torch.
Visit Phil’s Burrow
A formally dressed statue marks the location of the public library, and this is also Phil’s forever home. His handlers whisk him off to Gobbler’s Knob for the grand ceremony and return him here afterward.
From dawn to dusk, you can peer through a window at the rock structures that are his artificial “burrow.”
Visit the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center
This unique interactive science museum sits in the town’s century-old post office building. Visitors can learn about weather phenomena like tornadoes and thunderstorms and find out if there’s a connection between Phil folklore and actual science.
The approach here is fun and informative, and the hands-on demonstrations might just inspire the young weather-watchers in your family.
Head out on a Hiking Trail
The area surrounding Punxsutawney offers amazing scenic landscapes. This unique region has more than two million acres of pristine forest lands and more than a dozen state parks. Wildlife is abundant here, too.
You may even spot a groundhog in its natural habitat. The Punxsutawney Mahoning Shadow Trail is a 3.7-mile out-and-back paved route that runs along a creek.
It’s suitable for all levels and is good for cycling, too.
Where to Stay Near Gobbler’s Knob
We don’t expect you to hunker down until the groundhog emerges again, but feel free to settle in for a bit. There’s plenty more wilderness to explore in the area, and the town has more attractions to offer.
Our recommendation is a gorgeous 30-mile drive from Punxsutawney.
Dubois — Treasure Lake KOA
This sprawling facility on the water offers all the comforts you’d expect from KOA in a spectacular setting. There are 130 campsites with full hookups that can accommodate rigs up to 100 feet long. You’ll also find 20 cabins, some of which are big enough for a family or a group of friends.
There are two golf courses, a white-sand beach, an outdoor pool, playground, and volleyball and basketball courts.
A campground store offers pizza and ice cream along with firewood and propane.
Is a Trip to Gobbler’s Knob Worth It?
Are you planning to visit Gobbler’s Knob? We think it’s a fun place to visit any time of the year, but you can expect a crowd in early February. Dress warmly. It’s bound to be cold, whether Phil sees his shadow or not.
What are your favorite things to see and do in this lovely part of Pennsylvania?
Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA
To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).
You should give it a try!
As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.
Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site!
We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below: