The Unfortunate Outcome of Holy Land USA
Any attraction named Holy Land USA is sure to draw believers and skeptics alike.
But will you enjoy it? And what’s the best camping and hiking nearby?
Let’s follow the giant cross and see what’s there!
Where Is Holy Land USA?
Holy Land USA is in Waterbury, Connecticut. Known as the “Brass City” for its roots in metallurgy, Waterbury is now home to over 100,000 residents.
The city is divided into 25 neighborhoods, most of which are grouped by ethnicity.
About Holy Land USA
John Baptist Greco, a Waterbury lawyer, and devout Catholic had the idea for Holy Land USA in the 1950s. He envisioned an attraction that brought the Bible to life through displays and other tributes. Holy Land USA featured dioramas of the Garden of Eden and other Biblical events. Also, Greco included various tributes to the life and work of Jesus.
Holy Land USA’s most notable element was the 56-foot steel cross that could easily be seen from afar. Town residents joked that “the sign required such voltage, people would think Jesus died from electrocution.”
Unfortunately, the park fell into disrepair, and in 1984 it closed for repairs.
In 2010, Holy Land USA returned to media attention after 16-year-old Chloe Ottman was strangled beneath the cross by her friend, Francisco Cruz. Of course, this brought bad press to the park. Waterbury police assured citizens that while people sometimes trespassed on the park grounds, the murder was an isolated crime.
Since then, the park has been undergoing extensive cleaning and renovation. Currently, the plan is for it to reopen in 2022.
Pro Tip: Holiness not really your thing? If you’re no saint, check out the Seven Gates of Hell in Pennsylvania.
Can I Visit Holy Land USA?
Not yet. The attraction has been closed for renovation since 1984. A hopeful update in December 2020 said the park had been cleaned up and rebuilt but was not ready to reopen.
You may, however, be able to schedule a prayer service, Mass, or other religious events on the property. To do so, you must contact them by email or phone.
You can take a walk around Holyland Loop.
At only half a mile, this paved trail is best for seeing the town’s scenic views, many of which feature Holyland USA’s giant cross.
What is the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida?
The Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida, has a similar mission of creating exhibits recreating Bible life. However, the two attractions aren’t related. Marvin Rosenthal, a Russian Jew, became a Baptist pastor and started the Holy Land Experience.
Trinity Broadcasting Network currently owns the park, which has 43 exhibits.
Unfortunately, no one knows the fate of the Holy Land Experience, which has been closed and silent on social media for a year.
In April 2021, the park opened for two days with free admission. However, reporters stated that this was necessary to retain the park’s tax-exempt status and may not be indicative of the experience’s future.
Pro Tip: Heading down to Florida to explore the Holy Land Experience? Check out these 7 Best RV Parks in Orlando, Florida.
Best Hikes Near Holy Land USA
Hop Brook Lake
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains Hop Brook Lake primarily for the dam there. The park features pavilions for picnics plus disc golf and volleyball.
There are four short trails around the lake, each under a mile, and it’s easy enough to combine them for a longer hike.
The COA charges a fee of $1 for walk-ins and $4 for cars.
Sleeping Giant Tower Trail
There are 26 trails in the Sleeping Giant State Park. The most popular is the Tower Trail, a 3.1 out-and-back trail in a forest setting. It’s suitable for all skill levels, and even the ascent up Mount Carmel isn’t very steep.
The main attraction on the Tower trail is, well, a tower. A four-story observation tower, built in 1936 and on the National Register of Historic Places, crowns the peak and offers impressive views.
For a harder trail, the difficult-rated Sleeping Giant Head Blue and Violet Loop Trail. You’ll be rewarded with abundant wildflowers. In addition, many of the paths intersect, offering a diverse selection for all skill levels.
Best Camping Near Holy Land USA
Bear Creek Campground
The Bear Creek Campground has 50 sites with mixed pads and offers tent camping. All sites are pull-through, and visitors rated the campground as being clean and suitable for children. 50 and 30-Amp sites are available.
While the price tag is a bit steep at $40-$60 per night, there aren’t many other options around.
Cozy Hills Campground
Reviewers comment on the helpful staff and well-maintained campground. There are a lot of outdoor activities here like fishing, basketball, and horseshoes. They also have a game room, book exchange, and general store for indoor recreation.
Is a Holy Land USA Road Trip Worth It?
A profoundly religious man created holy Land USA; so, whatever your belief system, it’s nice to know the park is rooted in sincerity and not commercialism.
It’s anyone’s guess what the renovations are and how the park will have changed. Although, the 56-foot cross will surely remain, looking out from Holy Land USA over the old observation tower and all the vivid wildflowers.
When the park reopens, probably in 2022, there will be a lot more to see. If you can hold out until then, you won’t have to content yourself with a faraway glimpse of the cross. Do you plan to put Holy Land USA on your bucket list?
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