Parker Dam State Park during The Rut

Dave Moz

Jul 15, 2021
Campground name and location: Parker Dam State Park

Date of stay: Sat. Sept 24 to Tues, Sept 27
Spot number: 26
Web site:

Parker Dam State Park is a smallish park located in Penfield, Clearfield County, PA. With only 968 acres, the lack of size is made up for how impressive it is. One of the main attractions to staying here is the proximity to Benezett and PA’s largest elk herd.

The Excellent:
The campground –
Well maintained sites with enough room for our pup, sun/rain tent, and more. We did an atypical site set up facing our door to the back of the site and the woods right there so we couldn’t see most of our neighbors.
Being a little off season for most campers but on season for elk watchers, the grounds were mostly full on the weekend but cleared out for Monday and Tuesday.
We mainly stuck to the campground and didn’t explore the full park except for some fishing in the smaller lake and behind the spillway. Only managed to get a few pan fish but still had fun.
Rest rooms were very well maintained. The one closest to use was through a small trail behind our site. Very easy to get to and not noticeable from the site either. They have a great dish washing area and also an enclosed space with washers and dryers.
Camper set for rain.jpg

The other campers –
Even when full, it never got very loud during the day and was positively silent at night as far as other campers. Talked to a few people who were very helpful giving info about where to see elk (since it was our first trip there) and some places to stop.
Huge thanks to the one RV’er who helped us out while we were tearing down. Had a problem with one of the side lifts not coming down all the way and he gave us some straps to secure it tightly for the trip home.

Location -
Easy to get to off of I-80. It’s about 30 minutes to the Elk County Visitor Center. Some folks might prefer staying closer to the ‘prime locations’ for elk viewing. For us, half the fun was the drive to and from ECVC and Winslow Hill because we made a game out of spotting elk and deer during our drive.
It’s also less than an hour to Punxsutawney if you want to visit Phil.
One warning, there are no gas stations or anything else right off the exit from I-80. So, if you need gas, stop someplace before exiting.

Local Restaurants –
Absolutely loved Rose’s Hilltop Diner in Weedville. Stopped for breakfast one morning because it was raining and I was lazy. Excellent fresh breakfast. Also filled with locals so you know it has to be good.
Elk Life right down from the ECVC was excellent as well. Fresh food with elk on the menu and tasty ice cream. Made 2 stops here during our short trip. Also has a cute (and reasonable) souvenir shop.
Enjoyed Applewood BBQ & Grill (about 10 minutes) but have had much better BBQ.

The Elk –
Experiencing The Rut was the main reason we made the trek to PDSP. And we were not disappointed. There is a ton of info about where to see elk in the area so I won’t go into detail on that.
Spots we hit:
Elk Country Visitor Center – Main area to see elk. Lots of parking and a visitor center with gift shop. Saw the most elk here from 5pm to closing (7:30ish when it got to dark).
Hicks Run Wildlife Viewing Area – Only walked here once and didn’t see any. We did see tracks and scat. Also heard bugling in distance.
Winslow Hill Elk Viewing Area – Went here after dark because it is open 24 hours and has very little light pollution. Since it was the new moon, the sky was absolutely filled with stars. We saw nebulas, shooting stars, planets, and even the international space station.


The Good:
Fishing –
The lake isn’t as big as it looks on maps. Also, there is one long section that you can’t fish at because of the beach and the boat launch. It’s an easy walk from the campground to the lake with some well-marked trails (but we drove because of the weather.)

The Meh:
I really can’t think of any meh’s on this trip other than our pop-up having some issues.

Star Rating: 4.5 stars
fishing.jpg Rainbow.jpg
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