Public Dam Tours

Hour-long FREE public tours will depart from the pagoda overlook at the dam at the following dates and times:

  • June 1-2, 7 and 9 at 10 a.m.,10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 12:30 p.m., and 6 p.m.
  • June 3-5 at 10 a.m.,10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., and 12:30 p.m.
  • June 8 at 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 11 a.m.
  • June 14, 21, and 28 at 10 a.m.
  • July 12, 19, and 26 at 10 a.m.
  • Every Friday in August at 10 a.m.

To register for a tour, visit beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 23, 2024. Tour space is limited to 15 people per tour. Walk-up tours are not available due to the limited size of the facilities.

Participants are asked to arrive and check in at least 15 minutes before departure. All participants must provide government-issued photo identification (driver’s license, passport, school ID, etc.). Visitors aged 15 and younger are not required to have identification but must be accompanied by an adult 18 or older on the tour. 

Cameras, cell phones, handbags, backpacks, briefcases, etc., will not be permitted on the tour, and storage of these items is also not provided. Photography and video recording are strictly prohibited inside the dam facilities. Visitors not in compliance with this policy may be removed from the tour.

Tour participants must be able to negotiate more than 120 stairs and walk upwards of 300 yards. Children of any walking age are permitted – for safety precautions, visitors may not carry children on the tour.

About Raystown Lake and Dam History

Raystown Lake is the largest lake located entirely in Pennsylvania, constructed and managed by USACE for flood risk management, hydroelectric power, recreation, and fish and wildlife conservation and mitigation. It sits in the Allegheny Mountains, within the distinctive “ridge and valley” portion of the Appalachian Mountains. The Alleghenies are a product of shifting continental plates and millions of years of erosion. This topography naturally encourages the channeling of runoff from rain.

The watershed (or drainage area) for the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River and Raystown Lake is 963 square miles, or about three times the size of Huntingdon County.

The original construction of the dam was completed in 1911, creating the first Raystown Lake which was shallow and only about a quarter the size of the 28-mile-long lake in existence today. The original 45-foot-tall dam is still in place at the bottom of the lake near mile marker 2, just upstream of the current 225-foot-tall dam.

The original dam’s purpose was electric power generation.  However, after a major flood in 1936 which devastated most of the Juniata & Susquehannock River valleys, the public identified a need for the construction of a new and larger dam.

The Raystown Dam and Lake you see today was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1962. It would take nearly ten years before the dam was completed. In 1974, then Vice-President Gerald R. Ford—the only president ever to work as a park ranger—dedicated the new dam.

At a cost of $76 million, Raystown practically made up the difference before it was even completed. In 1972, Hurricane Agnes struck the construction site. Despite the dam being at only 58% completion, taxpayers were saved $60 million in flood damage.

In 1993, Raystown reached its highest elevation to date at 802.29 feet, or 15.5 feet above normal pool. In the 30+ years since Raystown started operating, communities have been saved from $314 million in potential flood damage costs.

Raystown Lake draws over a million visitors annually and generates an estimated $19 million in related sales. The Seven Points Recreation Area alone is the top grossing park in all of the 4,000+ recreation areas operated by the USACE.

Visitors come to enjoy panoramic views of 8,300 surface acres of clear water surrounded by 21,000 acres of forested mountain slopes, access to excellent public recreation facilities, and fishing and hunting opportunities. From camping and boating, to hiking and mountain biking, to striped bass fishing and whitetail deer hunting, and everything in between - Raystown offers something for everyone.

Raystown Dam Proposal and History