People in Nebraska love their outdoor water recreation. Miles of sandy beaches, rivers, lakes, camp grounds, wetlands, riparian forest, prairie trails, bicycling trails, clean air and spacious skies create a cornucopia of outdoor fun for families, couples and singles. They enjoy camping, bird watching, fishing, hunting, swimming, kite flying, boating, bicycling, hiking, water skiing, wind surfing, kayaking, canoeing and beach volleyball.
After the construction of Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation’s irrigation and hydro power project in 1935, people living on the arid prairie became aware of the marvelous recreational assets that water afforded them. Water released by Central from Lake McConaughy for irrigation or power generation passes 50 miles down the North Platte River to Central’s diversion dam, and then to Central’s Supply Canal, which runs 75.5 miles on the south side of the Platte River Valley. Along its passage, the Supply Canal forms 26 small lakes that offer recreation and fun for residents and tourists in every season.
|Central by the Numbers|
|11||Areas for recreational vehicles|
|450||number of RV pads|
|Countless||sites suitable for primitive camping|
|26||small lakes in the Central supply system available for public use|
|35,688||surface acres of water stored in lakes and reservoirs on the Central Supply system|
|#2||Lake McConahaughy is second most popular tourism site in Nebraska with Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha being #1|
|#3||a survey by Budget Vacation magazine reports Lake McConahaughy as the third most recommended camping site in their article, “27 Perfect Places to Go Camping.”|
|180,000||people visited Lake McConahaughy this 4th of July|
|3,000||people visited eagle viewing sites in 2014|
|120||eagles roosting below Kingsley Dam during winter of 2014 and equal numbers at the J2 hydro plant|
|11||miles of hike/bike trail around Johnson Lake|
|300||species of birds seen around Lake McConahaughy|
|10,000||acres controlled by Platte River Recovery Implementation Program and made available for public use|
Central’s canals, lakes and campgrounds are available for public use. RV camping grounds are managed by the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission. Please see their web page for reservations.
For more information about Central’s recreation resources, please see their website.
Designated land along the Platte River can also be used for hunting, fishing, bird watching and mushroom hunting. The Platte River Recovery Implementation Program provides the public the opportunity to use selected portions of the 10,000 acres controlled by the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program during times when targeted species are not present. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission developed a website that allows the public to access and sign up for dates available on these pristine conservation sites located along the Platte River. Permission slips must be in hand to access land and enforcement is a priority.
“Sitting in our trailer right now on the sand at Lake McConaughy in Nebraska. 20 feet from the water. This may be the best camping locale ever!” —Kristi Urynowicz Boddy
(Courtesy vicki watkins/Flickr)