Geography of Cambria County, Pennsylvania

By | March 11, 2024

Cambria County, located in the southwestern part of Pennsylvania, is a region of diverse landscapes, characterized by its rugged mountains, lush forests, and winding rivers. Covering approximately 694 square miles, Cambria County is part of the Allegheny Plateau region of the United States, known for its natural beauty and rich industrial history. In this comprehensive overview, we’ll delve into the geography, including climate, rivers, lakes, and more, of Cambria County.┬áCheck picktrue for climate in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.


Cambria County lies within the Appalachian Mountains, a vast mountain range that stretches from Alabama to Newfoundland. The county’s topography is defined by its rugged terrain, with steep valleys and ridges carved by erosion over millions of years. Elevations in Cambria County range from around 1,000 feet in the river valleys to over 2,000 feet in the mountainous areas to the east.


Cambria County experiences a humid continental climate with four distinct seasons, characterized by cold winters and warm summers. The region is known for its variable weather patterns and occasional severe storms.

Winters in Cambria County are cold and snowy, with average high temperatures in the 30s and 40s Fahrenheit. Average low temperatures can dip into the teens or even single digits, and snowfall is common during the winter months, with the county receiving an average of around 50 inches of snow annually.

Summers in Cambria County are warm and humid, with average high temperatures in the 70s and 80s Fahrenheit. However, temperatures can occasionally reach into the 90s or higher during periods of intense heat. Thunderstorms are frequent during the summer months, bringing heavy rain, lightning, and strong winds to the area.

Rivers and Lakes:

Cambria County is traversed by several major rivers and streams, which play a vital role in the region’s geography and ecology. The Conemaugh River, one of the primary waterways in the county, flows from east to west, draining much of the central and northern parts of the county. The Conemaugh River provides important habitat for fish and wildlife and serves as a popular destination for fishing, boating, and kayaking.

In addition to the Conemaugh River, Cambria County is also home to several smaller rivers and streams, many of which feed into the Conemaugh or other nearby waterways. These waterways provide habitat for a variety of aquatic species and offer recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike.

While Cambria County does not contain any natural lakes, it is home to several man-made reservoirs and ponds, primarily used for irrigation, flood control, and recreational purposes. These bodies of water provide valuable habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife and offer opportunities for fishing, boating, and birdwatching.

Natural Features:

Cambria County is characterized by its diverse array of natural features, including forests, mountains, and waterfalls. The county is covered in dense woodlands, primarily consisting of hardwoods such as oak, maple, and hickory, as well as evergreen species like pine and hemlock. These forests provide habitat for a variety of wildlife, including deer, bears, and songbirds, and offer opportunities for hiking, hunting, and nature observation.

The county is also home to several mountain ranges, including the Laurel Highlands to the east and the Allegheny Front to the west. These mountains provide stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and offer opportunities for outdoor recreation such as hiking, camping, and rock climbing.

Cambria County is dotted with numerous waterfalls, particularly in the upland areas to the east. Ohiopyle State Park, located in the southeastern part of the county, features several picturesque waterfalls along the Youghiogheny River, including the famous Ohiopyle Falls. Other notable waterfalls in the area include Buttermilk Falls, Cucumber Falls, and Jonathan Run Falls, each offering its own unique beauty and charm.

Human Geography:

Cambria County is home to several communities, including the city of Johnstown, the county seat and largest city in the area. Johnstown serves as a cultural, economic, and transportation hub for the region, with a vibrant downtown area, historic sites, and a diverse array of shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions.

Outside of Johnstown, Cambria County is dotted with small towns and rural communities, where residents enjoy a close-knit way of life surrounded by the natural beauty of the countryside. These communities host a variety of events and festivals throughout the year, celebrating the county’s rich history, culture, and outdoor heritage.

The economy of Cambria County is diverse, with manufacturing, healthcare, and education playing significant roles alongside agriculture, tourism, and natural resource extraction. The county’s abundant natural resources, including coal, timber, and natural gas, have long been the foundation of its economy, providing jobs and economic opportunities for residents.

Overall, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, offers a unique blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and small-town charm. From its rugged mountains to its winding rivers, the county’s geography reflects both the challenges and opportunities of life in the Appalachian region of the northeastern United States.