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Conowingo Reservoir, PA/MD: Complete Guide

Conowingo Reservoir spans two states and offers a wide selection of activities, including boating and swimming. It's known for incredible fishing and is popular with wildlife photographers.
itiswild.com Conowingo Reservoir Guide
Kid looking through the coin-operated binocular at Hawk Point in Susquehannock State Park, Drumore, Pennsylvania, a popular tourist attraction
Source: dreamstime

The Conowingo Reservoir is a section of the Susquehanna River that flows from the Holtwood Dam to the Conowingo Dam. 

The reservoir spans a length of approximately 14 miles, with a little more than nine miles in Pennsylvania and five miles in Maryland. 

The areas immediately south of Holtwood Dam have a river-like quality, with significant rocks near the surface that require care for navigation in that section. 

Many creeks offer quiet locations for anglers to try their luck while fishing. 

Two Men on a Small Fishing Boat on the Susquehanna River Near Historic Lock 12 in Pennsylvania
Source: dreamstime


Those who drive along US Highway 1 between Darlington and Rising Sun in northern Maryland cross a narrow bridge atop Conowingo Dam. 

This art deco dam was commissioned by the Philadelphia Electric Company in 1925. Construction began in March 1926 and finished within 21 months. 

The dam is named for the former settlement of Conowingo that once sat along the eastern shore of the Susquehanna River by Conowingo Creek. The town was submerged as the dam’s floodgates closed in January 1928.

The final hydroelectric dam on the Susquehanna, this was Maryland’s first impoundment along this vital waterway. 

At the time the dam entered service, it provided the second-largest output of hydroelectric power in the United States after Niagara Falls. 

An Island Made of Rock in the Susquehanna River Viewed From the Norman Wood Bridge
Source: dreamstime


Shared by both Pennsylvania and Maryland, this impounded section of the Susquehanna River is a popular fishing destination, with state parks, trails, and other outdoor recreation opportunities that attract visitors from these states and much of the Mid-Atlantic region.


  • Swimming within the Conowingo Reservoir generally does not occur from the shoreline, though no restrictions prohibit a dip in the water.
  • Conowingo Swimming Pool on Conowingo Road, near the Dam, offers community swimming opportunities. (Late May through September)


  • Boating is permitted on the lake, including sailboats.
  • Jet skis and other personal watercraft are permitted.
  • Water skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing are allowed on Conowingo Reservoir.
  • Gas engines are permitted on the lake.
  • Certain watercraft will require a Pennsylvania or Maryland registration sticker.
  • Boaters should always check for dam updates at the Holtwood Dam and Conowingo Dam from the National Weather Service.


  • Canoeing and kayaking are permitted on Conowingo Reservoir.
  • Certain watercraft may require a Pennsylvania or Maryland registration sticker.
  • Trailer parking is available at many sites.


  • Residents of Maryland and Pennsylvania who possess a valid fishing license may fish within the boundaries of the Conowingo Reservoir of both states without the need to purchase a license from the other state from the water’s edge.
  • This reciprocal agreement between the states does not include shore fishing or fishing in the tributaries.
  • This is one of the best places in Maryland to fish for smallmouth bass.
  • Largemouth bass are abundant throughout the reservoir and grow to impressive sizes.
  • Black and white crappie numbers have declined in recent years, but these species are still found in Conowingo Reservoir.
  • The best fishing in the Conowingo Reservoir occurs from a vessel since opportunities for casting a line from the shore are limited.
  • Anglers should check regular fishing reports released by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. 


Tourists Enjoying the view at the Pinnacle Overlook in Kelly`s Run Nature Preserve in late fall
Source: dreamstime


American bald eagle swooping down to grab a fish in conowingo dam
Source: dreamstime


  • Conowingo Dam is popular with nature photographers and birding enthusiasts. 
  • Dozens visit the dam area on weekends.
  • Common species include Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, American Black Vultures, Common Goldeneyes, and many more.
  • The best time to spot Bald Eagles hunting for fish is between October and February.

Access points

  • Broad Creek Public Landing, Darlington, Maryland
  • Conowingo Creek Landing, Conowingo, Maryland
  • Dorsey Park Access, Delta, Pennsylvania
  • Glen Cove Marina, Darlington, Maryland
  • Line Bridge Landing Fishing Access, Maryland
  • Muddy Creek Access, Airville, Pennsylvania
  • Peach Bottom Marina Access, Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania

Lake Guides:

Lakes in Pennsylvania:

Lakes in Maryland:

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