Located in the heart of the thickly forested Allegheny Plateau, Pennsylvania’s Parker Dam State Park offers spectacular sylvan views and a multitude of recreational activities. Hiking, mountain biking, picnicking, water recreation, and hunting are all big draws here. Winter offerings include skiing, snowmobiling, and ice skating. One of the park's crown jewels is the beautiful Parker Lake, named after William Parker, who built the park's dam. A day-use area and boat launch allow for easy access to the lake's cool placid waters, and anglers will find no shortage of peaceful spots to fish from the shore.
Parker Dam occupies nearly 1,000 acres in rural Clearfield County. It is surrounded by the sizable Moshannon State Forest. Moshannon itself occupies tens of thousands of rugged forested acres and is crisscrossed by miles of trails suitable for hiking, mountain biking, and backpacking; the forest also includes the scenic and remote Quehanna Wild Area. Still, more trails are available at nearby Sinnemahoning State Park and S.B. Elliot State Park. If you're looking for additional adventure, there are plenty of great options close by.
Parker Dam State Park is open daily from sunrise to sunset for visitors. A sizable modern campground has over 100 RV and trailer sites, and it offers excellent amenities and some full-hookup spots. Other options for overnight stays include the park’s cabins and its primitive group campground. Reservations can be taken at all of these, and they're highly recommended during peak season. Memorial Day to Labor Day marks the busiest camping season at the park.
Parker Dam State Park is located just a few miles off of I-80, which cuts east-west across central Pennsylvania. The roads from I-80 to the park are paved but rural. In some sections, they can be somewhat winding and narrow, so be sure to take things slow if you're in a large rig or pulling a long trailer. The park's roads are a mix of paved and gravel, though they're all well maintained.
Weather hazards include rain, which the area gets plenty of, and snow and ice. The latter can make rural roads especially treacherous. Be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out. If you need to resupply, the nearest sizable town is Clearfield, about 25 minutes to the south.
Parking at the main campground is a mix of pull-through and back-in sites. As long as your rig is under the 40-foot length limit, you should have no trouble maneuvering in.
Additional parking is also available at the day-use/beach area. If you're looking to head deeper into Moshannon State Forest or the Quehanna Wild Area, you may want to just bring your personal vehicle, as parking for large rigs is more limited.
Visit the Treasure Lake area, just 20 minutes from Dubois, PA, for its regionally renowned beaches and golf courses. For more adventure, travel just an hour north and explore miles of mountain biking and hiking trails in the Allegheny National Forest.
The DuBois/Treasure Lake KOA is big rig friendly with sites up to 100 feet long. The campground offers partly shaded sites with water and electric hookups (both 30-amp and 50-amp service are available). Unwind at the pool, work up a sweat at the basketball court, or grab some grub at the campground’s snack bar. Firewood and propane are available for sale on-site.
Located on a verdant patch of land just to the east of Parker Lake, you'll find Parker Dam State Park's main RV campground. Oaks, maples, basswoods, birches, and other stately trees provide at least partial shade to most sites here, all of which are also surrounded by well-kept lawns.
In total, the campground sports over 100 sites suitable for RVs and trailers. These include 22 full-hookup sites, with electric, water, and sewer, 60 electric only sites, and 23 primitive sites without hookups (but which are still large enough to accommodate rigs and trailers).
The grounds also have a sanitary dump station, several freshwater spigots, two modern restrooms with showers, a coin-operated laundry facility, and two playgrounds. Both back-in and pull-through sites are available.
A few ADA-compliant and pet-friendly sites are available too. Only one camping unit is allowed per campsite. Maximum RV length is 40 feet, and the maximum occupancy is five persons per site.
Staying at the main campground provides easy, walking access to Parker Lake, the park amphitheater, and several hiking and mountain biking trails.
The campground is open from the second week of April until the end of December every year. Peak season lasts Memorial Day to Labor Day. The limit of stay is 14 consecutive days during the peak season and 21 days during the off-season. Reservations, which can be made up to 11 months ahead of time, are highly recommended and can be made by calling the park’s toll-free number or by booking online.
Unreserved sites at Parker Dam can be claimed on a first-come, first-served basis. Given the park's popularity, especially during late spring and summer, reservations are highly recommended!
Planning a group event or family get-together? Parker Dam has two beautiful, quiet group camping areas that are set away from the main campground. Wide grassy areas offer plenty of space for tent camping - the park's two group camps can accommodate 20 and 50 guests, respectively.
Amenities here at the group camps are primitive. There are no electric or water hookups available; there are, however, several vault toilets, a few potable water spigots, plus fire rings and picnic tables. Group camping areas can be reserved online, through the same website as the park's main RV campground.
Tenting or overnighting in your RV are not the only lodging options at Parker Dam. In addition to its modern campgrounds, the park also sports 17 charming cabins. These can be found to the west of Parker Lake, along a short spur road. The cabins are well-spaced and set far from the campground, offering solitude and peaceful a peaceful sylvan atmosphere.
Sixteen of the park's cabins are designated as "rustic." These offer bunk beds, gas stoves, fridges, and some basic furniture. Guests need to provide their own bedding, firewood, and cooking supplies. Rustic cabins sleep between four and eight guests, depending on the individual cabin.
The park also offers one larger, slightly more furnished cabin. The unique, octagonal Tyler Cabin has a small kitchen, a beautiful stone fireplace, and can accommodate up to eleven guests.
None of the park's cabins has its own restrooms, but all offer easy, walking-distance access to shared restrooms. Any of the park's cabins can be booked online. Certain minimum stay requirements apply, depending on the booking season.
Parker Dam State Park and the surrounding Moshannon State Forest are home to a diverse array of wildlife. Visitors with careful eyes and ears may spot ovenbirds, ruffed grouse, cerulean warblers, chestnut-sided warblers, and wild turkeys, among many other species. Mammalian denizens include white-tailed deer, muskrat, raccoon, red fox, and black bears. Make sure to pack your binoculars in your motorhome.
Winter snows need not put a damper on your fun at Parker Dam. The park offers opportunities to partake in snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and sledding. The roughly 1.5-mile Snow Trail opens for snowmobilers and skiers every year from December until April. Beaver Dam, Skunk, CCC, and Souders Trails also permit cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Near the swimming beach, a small ice-skating area opens once the ice is thick enough. The park's sledding run and sledding hill are both popular with families.
Parker Dam's game-rich woodlands make hunting a popular off-season activity here. Popular game species include deer, grouse, bear, rabbit, squirrel, and turkey.
Hunting is permitted on 807 acres of the park during specific times of the year. In addition to hunting, the park also permits trapping and hunting dog training. Dog training is permitted only from Labor Day to the end of March. There are also hunting opportunities in the surrounding Moshannon State Forest.
Over 13 miles of hiking trails snake through the lush woods and over the rolling hills of Parker Dam State Park. Some paths skirt the edge of beautiful Parker Lake, while others traverse hollows and cross babbling creeks. Several different habitat types are on display, ranging from young, regrowing woodlands (which can be seen along the Abbott Hollow Trail, the site of a devastating 1985 tornado) to mature hardwood forests.
A few hiking trails from the park head into the beautiful and rugged Moshannon State Forest, which includes portions of the 50,000-acre Quehanna Wild Area.
Parker Dam State Park makes a splendid picnic spot. The park's lunching spot options range from small picnic tables to large pavilions. Picnic tables are laid out in the park’s woods, near the main campground. Complimentary charcoal grills are provided. Restrooms and drinking water are within walking distance.
There are also seven picnic pavilions, all large enough for groups of up to 75 people. Five out of seven pavilions offer electricity. These pavilions are reservable, and if not already reserved, they are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The 20-acre Parker Lake serves as Parker Dam State Park’s recreational hub. There are many options to choose from when it comes to having fun on the water. Fishing, boating, and swimming are all popular here.
RV campers visiting the park from Memorial Day to Labor Day can rent boats, canoes, and kayaks from the park’s concession store for a nominal fee. Only electric motors are permitted in the waters (no gasoline). A sandy beach on Parker Lake, open from late May through mid-September, welcomes campers to either sunbath or take a dip in the water. Fishing opportunities, meanwhile, abound year-round. The lake is well-stocked with a variety of gamefish including trout, bluegill, largemouth bass, and catfish. Before you cast your line, make sure you have a valid Pennsylvania state fishing license!