State Recreation Area
1475 Highway 61N | Ogallala, NE 69153-5930
Fire safety alert
Use extreme caution with campfires. Fires must be maintained and attended at all times. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation keeping everyone safe. Fireworks are prohibited at Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala.
Nearly everything about Lake McConaughy is big. At 30,000 surface acres it is Nebraska’s largest reservoir, its dam is among the largest of its type in the world and its fish grow to trophy proportions, accounting for several state records. Even its nickname, “Big Mac,” reflects its size.
Located eight miles northeast of Ogallala, Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area is known to most Nebraskans and residents of neighboring states as a great place for outdoor recreation. Lake Mac’s white sand beaches and clear waters are a favorite with campers, boaters, wind surfers, swimmers, water skiers, picnickers, scuba divers, hunters, anglers and others seeking outdoor fun.
To create a safer, family-friendly environment, all camping at Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala state recreation areas is by advance reservation only during peak season, May 20 to Sept. 10. Campground reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance and beach camping reservations 30 days in advance of your stay. All camping is first-come, first-served Sept. 11 to May 19.
Fishing has long been a favorite activity at Lake McConaughy, with its cool, clear, deep waters. Game fish species include walleye, channel catfish, Northern pike, wiper, smallmouth and white bass, among others. The area has three fish cleaning stations located at Martin Bay, Otter Creek and Cedar View. The area offers several boat ramps with docks, depending upon water level. Contact the Visitor’s Center for ramp availability. Fuel and boat rental are available from vendors around the lake. Depth and temperature information is available on the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District website.
Lake McConaughy is a prime destination for water recreation whether you enjoy water skiing and tubing, sail boating, or parasailing. Bring your own boat or personal watercraft or rent one from a private outfitter. Boat ramps are available at locations around the lake, depending on water levels. Contact the Visitor Center for ramp availability. Private dock mooring fee is $200.
If wind curtails your water fun, remember Lake Ogallala, located below the dam, is often sheltered from the wind. Some of Lake Mac’s bays also remain calm on windy afternoons.
View water levels and lake temperature information at cnppid.com.
The area’s white sand beaches make it a popular destination for swimmers and those who want to hang out on the shore and soak up the sun. Swimming is allowed at beach areas unless otherwise posted. Lifeguards are not on duty.
Large designated walk-in, beach day-use areas are located near Martin Bay, Arthur Bay, Sandy Beach and Cedar View entrances, and small walk-in day-use areas are located within each designated beach camping area at Lake McConaughy that are perfect for those visitors looking for open beaches and water to play for the day. Vehicles and overnight camping are prohibited in these areas.
Other designated walk-in, day-use areas are located around the lake for hiking, bird watching, hunting and fishing access. Vehicles and overnight camping is prohibited in these areas.
Most of Lake McConaughy SRA is open to hunting the Tuesday following Labor Day during designated hunting seasons. View the Public Access Atlas for information about public hunting grounds in Nebraska.
Opportunities for small game, turkey, mule and whitetail deer, waterfowl and upland species are abound in the area.
Nearby Clear Creek is a traditional wildlife management area open to hunting, trapping and fishing within the appropriate seasons. This area encompasses more than 3,200 acres of riparian woodlands, wetlands, river channel, lake bed and upland grasslands, and offers excellent deer, turkey, pheasant and dove hunting. Those willing to put in the effort to hike to the river can be rewarded with excellent waterfowl hunting. This area borders Lake McConaughy SRA and is available for public access year-round.
The Special Hunting Area (SHA) of Clear Creek consists of about 300 acres, which includes 10 four-person pit blinds, and is open to hunting for waterfowl and other game species until the Monday before Thanksgiving. At that point, the area is open only to those who are assigned a blind through a drawing held each morning at the Clear Creek check station.
The Lake McConaughy Visitor and Water Interpretive Center is one-quarter mile south of Kingsley Dam on Highway 61. The Visitor Center makes a great first stop upon arrival as it houses the park office, gift shop and public restrooms and offers a beautiful view of the lake. Nebraska park entry permits, camping registrations, fishing and hunting licenses and more helpful information to enhance your visit are all available here. The Center also houses two 1,000-gallon aquariums as well as interactive educational exhibits depicting the story of water in Nebraska and the history, hydrology and geology of the North Platte River Valley and Lake McConaughy. Learn about the construction of Kingsley Dam made from original photos and 8mm footage in the Ethel S. Abbott Theater. The Visitor and Water Interpretive Center are open to the public during peak season from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and during non-peak season from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
Lake McConaughy hosts a variety of special events throughout the year. Check ilovelakemac.com or contact the Visitor Center for up to date special event information.
Dining, snacks, groceries, boat rental, bait and other sundries are available at the following concession areas (call for details, exact location and hours):
For more information on lake businesses, visit www.ilovelakemac.com.
Located on the east side of Kingsley Dam and massive Lake McConaughy, Lake Ogallala is known as “the little lake.” Chilled by the massive surface of Lake McConaughy, Lake Ogallala is a well-known fishing destination, particularly renowned for its fast-growing and feisty rainbow trout.
Keith County and the City of Ogallala offer a wonderful variety of attractions in the Lake McConaughy Area. Ogallala, better known as Nebraska’s Cowboy Capital, is home to several Western-themed places of interest, including Boot Hill, the Mansion on the Hill museum, and the Petrified Wood & Art Gallery. For more information on local attractions, visit ILoveLakeMac.com.
Ash Hollow State Historical Park is a must-see when visiting Lake McConaughy. Ash Hollow is west of the Lake on Highway 26 or 92 and was an important stopping point on the Oregon/California Trail. Ruts of covered wagons carrying westbound immigrants on the Overland Trail can still be seen, and prehistoric cave dwellings have been preserved. Ash Hollow’s Visitor Center offers displays and information on the area’s rich history. The grounds at Ash Hollow offer over 2-miles of scenic hiking trails and a designated area for equestrian riding.
During peak season, May 20 to Sept. 10, all overnight camping requires an advanced reservation at Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala state recreation areas. The reservation system allows for campground reservations up to 180 days in advance and beach camping reservations 30 days in advance of your stay. Reservations can be made online, on a mobile app or by phone at 308-284-8800 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. everyday.
All overnight camping on designated camping beaches and in campgrounds are first-come, first-served Sept. 11 to May 14.
Located near the Martin Bay Entrance off Highway 61, this area features grass sites, with some being available for tents only and all have a picnic table and ground grill. 40 Basic sites with water available as well as a flush restroom facility is available within the campground. A shower facility is located nearby at the Martin Bay day-use area.
Located between the Martin Bay and Arthur Bay Entrances on Shoreline Road, this area features hard surfaced roads and pads with 8 Full Service sites and 34 Electric Plus sites, water available throughout the area and a restroom and shower facility.
Located between the Arthur Bay and Sandy Beach Entrances on Shoreline Road, this area features hard surfaced roads and 84 Full Service sites with water and sewer available at each site. A restroom and shower facility is also located in the area.
Located near the Sandy Beach Entrance off Highway 92, this area features grass sites, with some being available for tents only and all have a picnic table and ground grill. There are 16 Basic sites with water available as well as a primitive restroom within the campground. A shower and flush restroom facility is located nearby at Lone Eagle Campground.
Located at the west end of Lake McConaughy off Highway 92, this area features hard surfaced roads and 85 Electric Plus sites and 17 Basic sites. Water is available at nearly every camp site throughout the area and a shower and restroom facility is located in the center of the campground.
Located near the Spring Park Entrance off Highway 92, this area features grass sites, with some being available for tents only. Visitors looking for a remote camping experience with few amenities will enjoy Spring Park. There are 14 Basic campsites with a primitive restroom. No water is available in this area but can be found at the nearby Cedar View area. Camping at this area will remain first come, first served.
Located near Otter Creek Lodge concession, this campground is a remote area, but is located near the concession and boat ramps. There are10 Basic sites with water available at the nearby fish cleaning station as well as primitive restrooms. Camping at this area will remain first come, first served.
Camping at these areas will be by advanced reservation only, 30 days in advance of arrival during peak season. Reservations can be made online, on a mobile app or by phone at 308-284-8800 during business hours at 8 a.m. Mountain Time.
With entrances at Martin Bay, Arthur Bay and Sandy Beach, Shoreline Road has 16 designated beach camping areas with over 950 campsites available, depending on water levels.
Located past the Cedar View Campground, this area hosts 1 large designated beach camping area with 40 campsites available, depending on water levels.
Reservable beach camping during peak season is not site-specific. However, a maximum number of campsites will be allowed per designated beach camping area during the peak season. When that capacity is reached on any given day, no more reservations will be available for that day in that area.
Depending on water levels, 17 zoned beach camping areas will be available between the Shoreline Road and Cedar View areas with approximately 1,000 non-designated beach campsites.
Beach campsite reservations can be made, at the earliest, 30 days prior to the arrival date for non-designated campsites in beach camping areas. Same-day reservations may be made online until 5 p.m. Mountain Time, if campsites remain available. We again encourage visitors to book an overnight campsite before leaving home.
For the beach campsites, the 30 days allows Park Staff to estimate water levels, which is the critical factor in determining how much space will be available. The North Platte River system water levels are difficult to predict and having a shorter reservation window will help prevent cancellations due to high water levels.
Remember to share the shoreline with the many bird species that make their home at Lake McConaughy, especially the endangered Interior Least Tern and threatened Piping Plover that make their nests along the shoreline. Visitors (and their dogs) are reminded to give them a wide berth. Visitors must avoid marked or fenced-off nesting areas of beach, obey all signs and keep all pets on leashes.
The visitor center meeting room and theater are available to rent. Visit our pricing page for details.
In 2016, the Nebraska Game and Parks Board of Commissioners approved a 20-year management plan for Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala with input from local stakeholders and the general public.
Reservations are accepted for cabins, lodge rooms, and group lodges up to one year in advance of the arrival date. Reservations for camping are accepted up to 180 days in advance of arrival date. The Reservation Call Center hours are Monday-Friday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (CT) and closed on holidays.
A park entry permit is required to visit state parks and may be purchased at the park, statewide Game and Parks offices and permit vendors, or in advance of your arrival online. View those fees, as well as attraction and amenity pricing.
Our 76 gorgeous state park and recreations areas host a plethora of events throughout the year. From bird hikes to kayak races, Living History events to family outdoor days, our parks host something fun for every outdoor enthusiast.