PARKER DAM STATE PARK
This rustic, remote park in the heart of Moshannon State Forest is almost entirely wooded and offers picturesque areas of forest and swamp meadows, pine plantations and mixed hardwoods. The CCC Interpretive Center interprets the Civilian Conservation Corps. Parker Dam is a good base to explore the surrounding state forest.
The 968-acre Parker Dam State Park offers old-fashioned charm and character. A scenic lake, rustic cabins, quaint campground and unbounded forest make Parker Dam an ideal spot for a relaxing vacation. For wilderness explorers, Parker Dam provides a gateway to the vast expanses of the Moshannon State Forest. You can walk through a tornado ravaged woods, backpack into the 50,000-acre Quehanna Wilderness, mountain bike to your heart's content or enjoy quiet solitude searching for elusive Pennsylvania elk.
Parker Lake: The eastern shoreline of this 20-acre lake has a mix of maples, cherries, oaks and eastern hemlocks which makes the fall foliage gorgeous. A pathway from the campground to the swimming area travels over the breast of the earthen dam.
Windstorm Preserve: The tornado of 1985 blew a swath of destruction across Parker Dam State Park. The forest to the west of Mud Run Road has been left in a natural state. Note the large, bare tree trunks still standing in testimony to the power of the storm. The Trail of New Giants runs through this area. On the east side of Mud Run Road fallen trees have been salvaged and removed. Explore the two areas to see if the forest regrows differently in the two areas.
Viewing Wildlife: Parker Dam State Park and the surrounding Moshannon State Forest harbor deep forests where wildlife thrives in unbroken wilderness. Look for black-throated green and blackburnian warblers and ravens in conifer forests. The shy ovenbird and American redstart make the deciduous forest their home. Look for turkey in Abbot Hollow, along Laurel Ridge and Mud Run roads. Evenings are great for wildlife watching. White-tailed deer feed by the park office, ball field or near picnic pavilion seven. A drive on Tyler Road might yield a coyote or fox. Look for the elusive bobcat, free-ranging elk or porcupine in the tornado blowdown area in the evening. Watch for beaver on Mud Run, Abbot Run or on the campground side of the lake. Please do not feed wildlife and observe from a safe distance.
Pennsylvania Elk Herd: Elk (Wapiti) are about four times larger than white-tailed deer. Elk may weigh from 400 to 1,000 pounds and vary from 6 to 8 ? feet in length. Adult males carry very large antlers that can be six feet long and weigh 30 pounds. September and October is the best time to see elk. Big bulls bugle a high pitched whistle to attract cow elk. Never approach elk, but especially during the autumn rutting season.
The heart of the elk range is only a 40-minute drive from Parker Dam State Park. An elk-viewing platform is in State Game Lands 311 between Benezette and Grant PA. A second population of elk lies to the east in Sproul State Forest. Parker Dam is in the elk range and wild elk may be observed in the woodlands and fields.
Located in peaceful woods, the 16 rustic cabins rent year-round. The cabins sleep 4, 6 or 8 people. All cabins are heated with a wall-mounted gas heater, with the option of additional heating using wood-burning fireplace inserts. Each cabin has bunk beds, mattresses, gas cooking stove, refrigerator, table and chairs. Renters must provide their own bedding, cookware, tableware and firewood. In the summer season, cabins only rent by the week. In the off season the minimum rental is two-days. Advance reservations are recommended.
The camping area is above the eastern edge of the lake. Open from the second Friday in April through mid-December, it offers partially shaded campsites with open grassy areas and some entirely forested sites. The campground has modern restrooms with showers and a sanitary dump station. Electric hookups are available at 80 of 110 campsites. The maximum stay is 14 days during the summer season and 21 days during the off-season. Campers must vacate the park for 48 hours between stays.
Organized Group Tenting: The combined capacity of the three organized group tenting areas is 80 people. Two areas hold 20 people each and one area holds 40 people. These open, grassy areas are in the northern end of the park at the intersection of Mud Run and Tyler roads.
These reservable, organized group tenting areas contain non-flush toilets, water hydrants, picnic tables and fire rings. For a fee organized groups can use the campground showers.
The swimming area in Parker Lake features a beautiful sand beach and is open from Memorial Day until September 30 unless otherwise posted. Open swim hours are 8 a.m. to dusk daily. The maximum water depth is five feet at the far buoy line. Another buoy line marks the two feet depth line for younger swimmers.
Electric powered and non-powered boats are permitted on 20-acre Parker Lake. Motorboats must display a boat registration from any state. Non-powered boats must display one of the following: boat registration from any state; launching permit or mooring permit from Pennsylvania State Parks that are available at most state park offices; launch use permit from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Courtesy mooring spaces are available for overnight guests. A seasonal boat concession rents paddleboats, canoes and rowboats from Memorial Day to Labor Day.