The unusual availability of cultural resources and recreation opportunities attract visitors to Conemaugh Dam. Since power boating is prohibited, the lake has maintained a rich natural environment which is unique to the region.
At the dam, visitors will find an information center, picnic pavilions, a playground and a nature trail. Corps rangers conduct tours through the dam that take visitors 30 feet below the bottom of the river. The information center contains exhibits devoted to floods and the construction of the dam. Other exhibits explore the industrial and transportation history of Conemaugh Valley.
Bow Ridge Area offers a loop trail that runs along the edge of a bluff overlooking the lake, a disabled accessible area for hunters, and a car-top boat launching area for disabled access only. Another disabled accessible area is Virginia Farms. Permits for Bow Ridge may be obtained at the park office. Adjacent to the Dam Recreation Area, historical development is currently underway with the construction of the West- Penn Trail and the Tunnel View Historic Site.
The riverside trail includes a walk along the Main Line Canal that once connected Philadelphia to Pittsburgh (1834-1854). Overlooks along the trail will provide views of the historic canal and railroad structures, a canal tunnel and aqueduct dating from 1830, two railroad tunnels and three railroad bridges. This historic site is maintained by the Indiana County Parks Department.
Stricter environmental regulation on the Conemaugh River has resulted in improved fishing. Previously, discharges from inactive coal mines caused a decline in water quality. The reservoir water quality has substantially improved, which fosters a growing fish population.
Upriver from the dam, 6,756 acres of reservoir land is leased to the Pennsylvania Game Commission for use as public hunting ground. Located at the tailwaters of the dam is a canoe launching ramp used by those who take the scenic trip downriver to Saltsburg and beyond.
Boat with caution! Be especially aware of the existence of underwater obstructions. In addition, floating debris may be at or near the lake surface as a result of fluctuating lake levels. Boaters and skiers should be watchful for these hazards; because of these floating and underwater hazards, diving is discouraged.
The fire potential is generally high during the recreation season. Help prevent forest fires by obeying the No Open Fire regulation in effect.
When boating, the best protection against drowning is to wear your PFD. U.S. Coast Guard approved PFDs are required, by regulation, if you are less than 13 years of age, a non-swimmer, are on a boat less than 16 feet in length or are in a canoe, kayak or paddleboard. Know the rules before you go out on the water.
Be considerate of those in canoes or fishing at anchor. There are several shallow areas upstream of the boat launch. Please use caution. Alcohol and Boating Don't Mix! Don't drink while operating a boat. Alcohol is involved in at least 50 percent of all drownings and a major cause of death in recreational boating accidents. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited on all Corps of Engineers lake lands and waters! Be alert to changing weather/ lake conditions, storms can come on very quickly. If lightning is spotted, head for shore immediately and seek out a safe location.
Use a wading stick to check for sudden drop-offs in the water and for extra balance. Federal rules and regulations concerning the use of this lake are set forth in Title 36, Chapter III, of the Code of Federal Regulations and are on display in public areas of this lake.