Home » 2005 Cross Country Road Trip

Lake McConaughy State Park, NE

Friday, July 15, 2005 - 8:30am by Lolo
419 miles and 7 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


As of yet, I wasn't very original in my planning. Day 1 to the Flying J in Toledo, Day 2 to Lake Anita State Park in southwestern Iowa, and now here we were again at Lake McConaughy on Day 3. Kind of a deja vu of our 2003 trip, but sometimes you gotta stick with something that works.

Lake McConaughy camping on the beachLake McConaughy camping on the beachLake McConaughy was a great find for us on our 2001 trip. It's hardly off route when traveling west on Route 80, and it's really a very lovely stop. The lake is great--warm, aquamarine waters--and you can actually camp your RV right on the beach at the water's edge. We're always a little hesitant to drive in sand that is too soft and risk needing to be towed out, so we looked for a campsite further from the water on harder sand. Unfortunately, it was Friday afternoon, and being the popular vacation spot with Nebraskans that it was, we were unable to find anything good that we felt comfortable driving on. Not wanting to waste any more of the little time we had left that day hunting for a spot, we decided to camp at Little Thunder, one of the developed campgrounds on the asphalt. Also, it was very hot out, so this way we could have electricity and run the AC.

Tractor tracks for beachfront campingTractor tracks for beachfront campingAfter settling in, which consisted of plugging in the electric cord, we quickly headed down to the beach for a late afternoon dip. Andrew brought along his old 35mm camera since he had to shoot 5 rolls of black and white film as a summer assignment for his Photography class. I was really glad he had this assignment and that it timed with our trip. It really forced him to look at things that he probably wouldn't have really noticed before--like the patterns that tire tracks make in the sand or the texture of the sand along the water's edge.

In the meanwhile, Tommy was running along the beach and jumping happily into a pile of sand. Unfortunately, the pile covered some fish that people had filleted, and one of the bones pierced Tommy's big toe. There was blood everywhere. He quickly hopped the fairly long distance back to the motorhome where we were able to bandage it up and stop the bleeding. So much for his running that night. I just hoped that this wouldn't put him out of commission for too long.

As always, Lake McConaughy had been a great stop, but I was getting antsy to see something new.


Lake McConaughy camping on the beachLake McConaughy camping on the beachLake McConaughy, nicknamed "Big Mac," is the largest reservoir in Nebraska. It is located just a few miles off Interstate 80 near the Colorado border. The reservoir, which is over 20 miles long and 4 miles wide when at full capacity, was formed on the Platte River by the Kingsley Dam. The lake has over 100 mile of white-sand beaches along its shore line.

To Nebraskans, the main attraction of Lake McConaughy is water activities--swimming, boating, windsurfing, skiing, and world-class fishing. Trophy size catfish, walleye, stripers, bass, and trout have been caught in "Big Mac."

The park has 200 tent and RV sites. However, most people choose to primitive camp right on the beach at the water's edge. Camping is on a first-come first-serve basis.

Lake McConaughy State Park location map in "high definition"

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