Splash! Navigating the indoor water parks of the Poconos in winter

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Indoor water parks have taken on a whole new dimension in the last decade, and the Pocono Mountains are home to some of the country’s largest and best outfits. Big chains like Great Wolf Lodge and Kalahari operate resorts here, along with local stalwarts Camelback and Split Rock Resorts, which have transformed themselves from quaint lodges to year-round family entertainment centers. Here’s a guide to navigating them while the weather’s too cold and inhospitable for outdoor water play. Each one has its own personality.

Camelback Waterpark and Resort

The resort: Upscale, with a family-friendly feel. Scavenger hunts are held in the lobby and there are myriad dining options, from pizza to an all-you-can-eat buffet.

The water park: 125,000 square feet, 13 water slides, 7 pools including a lazy river, and a swim-up bar for grown-ups.

Notable: It’s the only ski resort in the Poconos with a water park, so it’s possible to hit the slopes and slides in a single day. It has the only combination water slide of its kind and one of the longest indoor water coaster slides in the world. The indoor/outdoor hot tub is a big attraction to the young and old.

 

Great Wolf Lodge

The resort: Its wild animal theme and whimsical suites with bunk beds tend to draw families with young children.

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The water park: 79,000 square feet, with tandem tube slides, a wave pool and a four-story treehouse fort.

Notable: The water park is for resort guests only. Don’t expect to see many adults without kids here. Even the spa is geared toward tots with an ice cream theme.

Kalahari Resort

The resort: This African-themed resort caters to both families and couples, offering standard rooms, suites with bunk beds, and honeymoon suites with heart-shaped tubs.

Kalahari

Water park: At 220,000-square foot, it’s the largest in the Poconos (and maybe America), with a huge water coaster and two lazy rivers, one of which is designed especially for the under-48-inches set. The rides have adventurous names like Cheetah Race, Barreling Baboon, and Wild Wildebeest, but are generally kid-friendly.

Notable: The variety of rides and levels appeal to guests all ages, but especially those with young children. Its two indoor/outdoor whirlpools, and Tiko’s Watering Hole, its large toddler area, both garner raves from families.

Split Rock Resorts

The resort: There are two parts to this long-running inn — the original lodge, which sits by Lake Harmony, and the newer resort, which is about a mile away and home to  the water park, a cinema and bowling alley. It’s more convenient to stay in the resort rather than the lodge if you plan to visit the water park.

Water park: This is the smallest water park of the bunch at 53,000 square feet. It has three slides, a wave pool, and a play structure and only operates full-time in the summer.

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Noteable: The water park is always open to the public and not included in the resort rate. It gets consistent praise for its easy-to-navigate setting and lack of overcrowding.

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