Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area

  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Canoe/Kayak
  • Fishing
  • Food Service
  • Hunting
  • Picnicking

Located in a picturesque valley of the Snake River 26 miles southwest of Valentine, Merritt Reservoir offers some of Nebraska’s best fishing, along with boating and camping. It is a deep lake with excellent inflow from the Snake River and Boardman Creek.

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Walleye, crappie and white bass have long been the favorites with anglers here, although lunker catfish can be found in the Snake River arm. The reservoir has two modern fish cleaning stations.

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.


All types of boating are permitted at Merritt. Ready access to the lake is available at public boat ramps in the Powder Horn, Main, Beed’s Landing and Snake River areas. There are five ramps and seven docks all together. Fuel is available nearby at the Merritt Trading Post.


The Merritt Trading Post is a privately owned resort just outside the state recreation area. It offers a restaurant, cabins, bait, groceries, fuel, cabins and boat rental.


Hunting is permitted in season at Merritt Reservoir beginning the day after Labor Day. Sharp-tails and prairie grouse are prime upland species. Both whitetails and mule deer along with wild turkey offer good action here. There is some excellent waterfowl hunting on the lake and on the sandhills lakes in the area.


Merritt offers 200 picnic tables, along with 190 grill and eight picnic shelters.


RV and tent camping

Merritt Reservoir offers numerous camping options over several campgrounds There are 38 sites with 20-, 30- and 50-amp electrical hookups and 18 standard sites without electricity in Cedar Bay Campground; 21 electrical sites with 50-amp hookups in Willow Cove; 10 electrical sites with 50-amp hookups in West Beeds; 10 electrical sites with 50-amp hookups in Beeds and 10 electrical sites with 50-amp hookups in Boardman. An additional 105 non-pad sites without electricity are scattered throughout the park. Water, modern restrooms and showers are available to campers, and there is a dump station on site. Additional camping spots are available at the Merritt Trading Post.

Download park map
Download Beeds Landing Campground map
Download Boardman Campground map
Download Cedar Cove Campground map
Download Willow Cove Campground map
Download Main Area map



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.


Nearby Attractions

Valentine National Wildlife Refuge

The nearby Valentine National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 72,000 acres in the heart of the Nebraska Sandhills. Lakes and marshes in the valleys and prairie grasses in the hills and meadows provide habitat for many kinds of wildlife. The refuge also provides excellent fishing opportunities. Learn more on the refuge website.

Contact Information

Address: Merritt Reservoir SRA | Valentine, NE 69201-1904
Phone: 402-389-0672

Email: Send email