U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ John Redmond Reservoir is located in eastern Kansas, a few miles from the city of Burlington, Kansas. The reservoir is situated in Coffey County, east of the Flint Hills, on the Neosho River Valley. Built in 1958, and named after John Redmond, the publisher of the Burlington Daily Republican, the John Redmond Reservoir is surrounded by rolling hills and sweeping vistas of native prairie grass, wheat, and corn fields coupled with wooded areas of elm, black walnut, hickory, ash, hackberry, cottonwood and cedar in lower areas.
The reservoir provides flood control, water supply, wildlife management areas and recreational lands with activities under the oversight of the Corps of Engineers. Recreational activities are overseen by the Corps of Engineers as is the 1637 acre Otter Creek Wildlife Area on the southwest shore of the lake. The 18 463 acre Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge is adjacent to the reservoir and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Otter Creek Wildlife Area contains 200 acres of riparian land, 465 acres of agricultural land, and 970 acres of native grassland providing habitat for a variety of wildlife species in the region. There are three COE Parks with overnight camping for RV visitors at the reservoir, the Dam Site Park, Riverside East, and Riverside West Parks. Seven more recreational areas make a total of 10 COE recreational sites around the lake. Amenities at these recreation sites include hiking trails, boat ramps, and an off-road vehicle area. Other activities at and around the lake include fishing, hunting, and picnicking.
Nearby state parks Eisenhower State Park and Pomona State Park are a short drive away from John Redmond Reservoir. Need to rent an RV? Try Kansas RV Rentals.
The town of Burlington, Kansas provides service and amenities including gas, grocery, and hospital services. From Burlington, travel north on route 75 to Embankment Road or 15th Road and head east to reach the recreational lake access roads.
From the City of Emporia, RVers can head east on Interstate 35 then south on Route 75 to the lake access roads.
There are three RV campgrounds on the lake. Dam Site group campground is on the northeast end of the dam on the east shore, and Riverside East and West Campground parks are below the dam on either side of the Neosho River.
To get to the Dam Site from Burlington take US 75 north 3.5 miles then turn west on Embankment Road and continue .3 miles to the entrance.
Riverside East Campground can be reached 1.5 miles west on the Embankment Road and Riverside West Campground is 2.5 miles down the Embankment Road.
Campgrounds and recreation sites are well signed. The roads are all paved and Embankment Road runs over the dam. The dam crossing is wide enough to accommodate RV units and trailers and roads are well maintained.
Campground Roads are paved, but heavily treed, and sightlines and clearances may be limited. Take it slow and give yourself lots of room around corners and backing into sites.
Riverside West is located on the west bank of the Neosho River. Peak season, when campsites are reservable is from May through September, with first come first serve in the offseason. There are 36 campsites, some of which are along the waterfront, and one large reservable picnic shelter at this campground. There are sites available with electric and water hookups.
Facilities for outdoor activities at the campground include an accessible fishing dock, boat launch, playground, horseshoe pit, and hiking trails. Amenities at the campground include a dump station, flush toilets, and vault toilets. Sites are gravel surfaced and have picnic tables, fire rings, grills, and lantern poles. Some sites also have lean-to shelters. Pets are permitted on a leash. The campground is well treed, and sites have plenty of shade and privacy. Enjoy fishing, boating, water sports, hiking, and wildlife watching from this convenient, well-serviced campground.
The Riverside East campground is reservable from May through October, with first come first serve sites during the offseason. Riverside East has 52 campsites and two large picnic shelters which are reservable and ideal for large parties and family get-togethers.
This campground is more open, with excellent sightlines located on the east shore of the Neosho River. Amenities at individual campsites include campfire rings, electric hookups, lantern posts, grills, water hookups, and picnic tables. Campsites are gravel surfaced, and some have lean-to shelters. Amenities at the campground include a dump station, flush toilets, non-potable water supply, river access, showers, vault toilets, trailheads, and cable TV access.
The popular multi-use Hickory Creek Trail runs through the area and there is a 1.5-mile section of trail designated for hikers only, in the Riverside East section. Enjoy watersports, hiking, and wildlife watching from this riverside campground. An ATV area is located nearby at the Otter Creek Recreation Area. Note there is no ATVing in the Riverside East campground.
There are four reservable group campsites available at the Dam Site and a large picnic shelter. The Dam Site Campground is an ideal campground for large groups, families, and organizations planning a function or party. There is a sandy swimming beach, two playgrounds, and a boat ramp providing access to the water for plenty of recreational fun.
The campground is reservable during the peak season, and first come, first served during the offseason. Other amenities at the Dam Site include a boat dock and ramp, day-use area, fire rings, dump station, as well as drinking water, flush toilets and showers during the peak season. There are hiking and equestrian trails nearby, as well as off-road/ATV trails to the south at the Otter Creek Recreation Area. Electric and water hookups are available at sites as are picnic tables and lantern posts. Pets are permitted at the group's site but should remain on a leash.
Fishing enthusiasts will enjoy the large lake with multiple boat ramps at campsites and recreation areas to launch motorized and non-motorized fishing boats. There is also fishing from fishing docks at recreation areas and from areas along the shoreline. Be sure to have a valid fishing license for the State of Kansas and obey all rules and regulations. Fish species you will find in the lake include white crappie, walleye, white bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, and a variety of sunfish.
Several boat ramps around John Redmond Reservoir offer boaters access to the lake for motorized vessels. There are boat ramps at the Dam Site and Riverside West Campgrounds and at the Otter Creek Recreational Area, Strawn and Hartford Recreational areas. Boating regulations for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism and USACE must be adhered to while boating on the lake. Youth 12 years and under must wear a lifejacket at all times and life preserves must be on board for all passengers and operators. Watersports, fishing, and sightseeing while boating on the beautiful reservoir lake are all popular activities.
While picnic shelters are available at all three overnight camping areas, the group camping sites and picnic shelters at the Dam Site are especially popular for large groups looking to enjoy outdoor meals near the lake and camp overnight. With great views of the water below the dam, these sites can be reserved by companies, organizations, family reunions or private groups looking to enjoy a meal, games and water activities on the river, lake or at the Dam Site swim beach. Playgrounds and restrooms situated near the picnic shelters are convenient amenities for families enjoying a picnic at the reservoir or the river below the dam.
The Otter Creek Game Management area occupies 1472 acres on the reservoir and is managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism and the COE. Species available for harvest by hunters in the area include bobwhite quail, mourning dove, greater prairie chicken, cottontail rabbit, squirrel, white-tailed deer, and turkey. In addition, the Flint Hills National Wildlife refuge adjacent to the reservoir occupies 18500 acres and is open to the public for hunting during the appropriate seasons, with the exception of the area north of the Neosho River which is closed to the public from October 1 to December 31 annually.
The reservoir area has several trails winding along the water and through the surrounding hills and forested areas, with trailheads at the Dam Site and Riverside East campgrounds. The most well-known hiking trail in the area is the Hickory Creek Trail, a multi-use hiking, biking, and equestrian trail, with 11 miles of trail that crosses the creek in several locations. Additional crossings are planned to increase the length of the trail to around 20 miles. A 1.5-mile section in Riverside East Park is limited to hikers only.
There is a 240-acre area with a trail for dirt bikes, off-road, and all-terrain vehicles at the Otter Creek Recreation Area. The ATV Area can be accessed at the west end of the dam and is open from dawn to dusk. Ensure you have appropriate safety equipment including a helmet, long-sleeved shirt and pants, enclosed shoes, preferably boots, and any other protective equipment available. ATVs must be licensed for use in the park area. Fall terrain tends to be dryer than earlier in the year and provides firmer ground for ATVing activities.