As Nebraska’s state parks prepare for the fall season, some are adjusting their activity hours because of a limited workforce.
As schools return to session and park staffing levels become more limited, park managers must reduce hours of operation and services. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission encourages its patrons to call ahead before visiting a park to check on activity times and availability to ensure a great park experience.
At 2,158 acres, Lake Minatare SRA is the Panhandle’s largest body of water, attracting thousands of anglers, campers, water skiers and swimmers each year. Lake Minatare boasts excellent outdoor recreation opportunities, while irrigating thousands of acres in the North Platte Valley. It’s surrounded by notable historic and recreational sites such as North Platte National Wildlife Refuge, Chimney Rock National Historic Site, Scotts Bluff National Monument and Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area. Lake Minatare SRA is closed to public access from October 15 to January 15.
In spring, rising water levels offer anglers excellent opportunities to catch panfish, bass, pike and walleyes in shallow water. Fishing shifts towards the main body of the reservoir during the summer when trolling and drifting can be productive for walleyes and channel catfish. Also during the summer, schools of white bass feed on baitfish near the surface early and late in the day. After the area reopens in mid-January, ice-fishing for yellow perch and walleyes can be productive. Fish Cleaning Stations are located at Lake View, West Wind and Butte View areas.
For more information on fishing opportunities here and at parks across the state, visit the interactive public fishing areas map. This map provides detailed information on available species, regulations, public boat ramps, fish cleaning stations and ADA-accessible boat ramps and docks, among other features in reservoirs, lakes, streams and rivers statewide. Lake contour maps are available for some lakes, as well.
Boaters will find three ramps with courtesy docks located around the lake, which has plenty of running room for power boating, water skiing and sailing.
Non-Motorized boating is a popular activity at the lake and adjacent Winter’s Creek Reservoir due to their tree lined backwaters, secluded coves and beautiful vistas. Kayaks are available for rent from the Park Office on a first-come, first-served basis, for a fee.
A designated swimming beach is located at Sunrise Beach day use area and offers swimmers nearby picnic facilities and primitive restrooms. No lifeguard is on duty and swimming is at your own risk. Water surfaces may be zoned to prohibit certain activities. Where zones are established, posted rules must be observed.
Lake Minatare’s landmark lighthouse was a beacon of hope during the dark days of the Great Depression, when many Americans were jobless. It was built entirely of native stone between 1937 and 1939 by the Veterans Conservation Corps Camp BR-1. The structure stands 55 feet tall and was intended to serve as a combination shelter house and observation tower. Many decades later, it still stands watch over the area. Open to the public, the historic tower continues to offer a spectacular view of the lake and picturesque river valley.
Scout’s Cabin, located at Scout’s Rest Area on the north side of Lake Minatare, was constructed between 1937 and 1938 by the VCC and is available for public use. The cabin offers a functioning fireplace, electrical outlets and lighting. It can accommodate up to 50 people and is available for ½ day and full day rental. Please contact the Park Office for pricing and to make your reservation.
Sunrise Beach day use area hosts a large outdoor shelter with fireplace and accepts reservations at no cost.
With nine additional shelters and dozens of picnic tables and fire grates, Lake Minatare SRA is a popular place for families and groups to dine outdoors.
Lake Minatare SRA offers campers Electric Plus, Basic and Primitive campsites throughout several campgrounds.
Lake View Campground offers 52 Electric Plus sites, half of which are available for reservation up to one year in advance. Shower facilities and water are available at both the east and west portions of the campground. A laundry facility is located near the park office.
Butte View Campground offers 49 Electric Plus sites, half of which are available for reservation up to one year in advance. Shower facilities and water are available in the campground.
West Wind Campground offers 20 Basic sites, all of which are first-come, first-served. Water and primitive restrooms are available. A shower facility is located nearby at Lake View Campground.
An RV Dump and Fill Station is located off Stonegate Road on the western side of Lake Minatare SRA.
Numerous non-designated Primitive sites are available around the park including areas at West Wind, South Gate, Lake View, Scout’s Rest and Butte View. Some beach sites are available, depending upon water level.
Camping reservations are available for half of the campsites in Lake View and Butte View campgrounds. All other camping is all first-come, first-served and campers register their nightly camping fees in a raised, locked box called an Iron Ranger. Self-service envelopes are provided at each Iron Ranger station. Check or cash only. Iron Rangers are generally located near the park entrance or in the campground area. On-site camping informational signs are provided to help guide campers with the self-registration process.
A park entry permit is required and may be purchased at the park, statewide Game and Parks offices and permit vendors or in advance of your arrival online.VIEW ALL PARK FEES
Lake Minatare is just minutes from the Scotts Bluff National Monument, Chimney Rock National Historic Site, Bridgeport State Recreation Area and many other natural wonders and public lands of the Wildcat Hills and North Platte Valley.
Central to these attractions is the Scottsbluff-Gering area, providing big-city amenities to the scenic region.
Just south of Gering is the Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area and Nature Center, another popular attraction for park-goers.
Address: Lake Minatare SRA | PO Box 188 | Minatare, NE 69356-0188
Email: Send email