State Recreation Area
54876 852 Rd. | Pierce, NE 68767
Use caution and avoid exposure to the water at Willow Creek Reservoir as high levels of harmful algal blooms, also known as toxic blue-green algae, were measured there. People and pets should avoid swallowing water. Camping, day-use activities and recreational boating and fishing are still permitted. The lake will remain on Health Alert until a new sample tests at safe levels. Find the most recent water quality results here.
Located 1 ½ miles southwest of Pierce, scenic Willow Creek State Recreation Area draws its name from the meandering stream that feeds the Elkhorn River in northeast Nebraska. The 1,633-acre area includes a 700-acre flood control reservoir with excellent fishing opportunities. The area also boasts picnicking, camping, boating and an 8-mile limestone hike/bike trail.
The main body of the lake is open to all boating, as well as to water skiing. The wooded west end of the lake (about half the lake surface) is restricted to no-wake boating.
Anglers will find crappie, bluegill, bass, catfish, walleye, northern pike and wipers, among other species. Seven rock jetties provide angler access.
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 Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant boat ramps and docks, among other features in reservoirs, lakes, streams and rivers statewide. Lake contour maps are available for some lakes, as well.
Parts of Willow Creek are open to hunting, in season, beginning the first Tuesday after Labor Day and closing April 1. Species available include pheasant, quail, mourning dove, rabbit, squirrel and a variety of waterfowl. Deer hunting is permitted but is restricted to archery only. Rifles, handguns and shotgun slugs may not be used on the area.
Mature trees and plenty of scenery make Willow Creek a fine day-use spot. Picnickers will find dozens of tables and grills, as well as six shelters, two of which have electricity.
Willow Creek has one swimming beach. No lifeguards are on duty.
Willow Creek offers an 8-mile limestone hike/bike trail with a 2-mile connector trail to Pierce. While horses are not permitted on the limestone trail, a 10-mile mowed horse trail is available, as well. Park roads also may be used by horseback riders.
Willow Creek State Recreation Area offers Electric Plus, Electric, Basic, Equestrian Electric Plus and Equestrian Basic camping.
Willow Way Campground includes 165 campsites with electricity and numerous Basic campsites for those that do not need electricity. Additional amenities include picnic tables, fire ring/grills, drinking water, dump and fill station, modern restrooms, showers and laundry. The dump and fill station is located in the town of Pierce, about 5 miles from the lake. Willow Creek SRA campers can find the dump and fill station next to the Pierce County Courthouse.
Reservations may be made for half of the campsites at Willow Creek SRA and the remainder are available first-come, first-served. Those camping first-come, first-served 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.
Equestrian camping consists of 10 Electric Plus campsites, which are each 100 feet long. Each pad is accompanied by a 50-foot pen and 50-amp electrical hookup. For those equestrian campers that do not need electricity there are Basic Equestrian sites with two barbless pens available. Horse sites may be reserved.
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.
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.
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.