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Camping & Lodging
All cabins and similar facilities are privately owned. Nebraska Game and Parks does not offer cabin rentals at the State Recreation Area.
Camping facilities are both private and public. Click here for a list of several privately owned campgrounds.
What makes camping in the Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area unique?
Unlike most state SRAs, you may primitive camp just about anywhere that’s available! If you are within the boundaries of the State Recreation Area, you may camp in the treeline surrounding the high water mark of the lake, on the beach, along the waterline, and most places in between.
What you need to know:
All vehicles inside the State Recreation Area must display Nebraska Park Entry Permits.
Beginning in 2017, there is a separate permit for vehicles licensed outside of Nebraska, in addition to the one for vehicles licensed in Nebraska. Each of these permits is available in annual, duplicate annual and daily formats.
The permits, and their fees are: vehicles licensed in Nebraska – annual, $30; duplicate annual, $15; daily, $6; vehicles licensed outside of Nebraska – annual, $45; duplicate annual, $22.50; daily, $8.
Permits are available at the park headquarters near the south end of Kingsley Dam, many area businesses, and entrance booths during peak hours. Or you can buy them online before making your trip at https://ngpc-permits.ne.gov/NGPC-PS/faces/public/welcome
There is also a separate camping fee for anyone camping inside the State Recreation Area in addition to your park permit. Fees are $35/night for a full service pad with water, sewer and electric, $25/night for an electric only campground, and $10/night for “primitive” camping (no electrical hook-ups) everywhere else, either on the beach or the grassy areas. (October 15 through May 1, off-season rates are $18/night for electric only and $8/night for primitive camping.)
The primitive fee allows for 1 camping unit (tent/camper/vehicle). An additional tent for underage children is permitted. However 2 tents occupied by adults would require 2 primitive camping fees.
You can pay for camping via self-pay stations (“iron rangers”) located at each modern campground and at all park entrances, and at Entrance Booths during peak summer hours. Half of all modern campground pads are available by reservation only at http://nebraskastateparks.reserveamerica.com/
Beach camping is one of the most unique features of Lake McConaughy. Water levels permitting, you can pull your camper or RV on the beach, rent an RV, or pitch a tent. In years with high water levels, Game and Parks provides additional mowed areas for camping. These areas qualify as “primitive” camping and are subject to the $10/night fee. Also be aware that changing water levels and drying sand can provide a challenge to vehicle traffic on the beach. 4×4 is a necessity, and some private concessions also offer towing service.
Need a shower? Pay showers are available at Lone Eagle, Little Thunder, Cedar Vue, and Lake Ogallala Campgrounds in addition to the stand-alone shower building near the Arthur Bay entrance to the State Recreation Area.
Remember to share the shoreline with the many bird species that make their home at Lake McConaughy, especially the endangered least tern and threatened piping plover. Visitors are asked to avoid marked or fenced off nesting areas of beach, obey all signs, and keep all pets on leashes. For more information, see the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District website.