Wildlife Watching at Parker Dam State Park
Parker Dam State Park and the surrounding Moshannon State Forest harbor deep forests where wildlife thrives in unbroken wilderness.
In conifer forests, look for ravens and black-throated green and Blackburnian warblers.
The shy ovenbird and American redstart make the deciduous forest their home.
Look for turkey in Abbot Hollow and 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.
Common Birds of Parker Dam State Park
The common birds brochure lists the birds most likely to be seen in the park and in which habitat:
Common Birds of Parker Dam State Park (PDF)
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 six to 8.5 feet in length. Adult males carry very large antlers that can be six feet long and weigh 30 pounds.
September and October are the best months to see elk. Big bulls bugle a high pitched whistle to attract cow elk.
Never approach elk, especially during the autumn rutting season.
The heart of the elk range is only a 50-minute drive from Parker Dam State Park. The Pennsylvania elk herd is more than 1,000 animals and is expanding its range into areas in or near Parker Dam State Park.
The Elk Country Visitor Center is a 30-minute drive away and features interactive displays and great elk viewing opportunities.
A second population of elk lies to the east in Sproul State Forest.
The eastern shoreline of this 20-acre lake has a mix of maples, cherries, oaks, and eastern hemlocks, which makes for gorgeous fall foliage.
A pathway from the campground to the swimming area travels over the breast of the earthen dam.
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 both areas to see if the forest is regrowing differently in the two areas.