The Lewis & Clark State Recreation Area draws its name from the Lewis & Clark expedition, who stopped to camp near here during their journey to explore the area of the Louisiana Purchase in the early 1800s. It is an active park that sits near the shores of the Lewis & Clark Lake, and it provides many different ways in which you can interact with nature. The reservoir lake is about seven miles north of the town of Crofton, NE and straddles the Nebraska and South Dakota border. It is nearly 16 miles long, three miles wide, and reaches depths of 45 feet in some areas, providing many opportunities for fishing, boating, and even hunting. The marina, which is open during the summer months, offers snacks, groceries, firewood, and fishing supplies.
Those who enjoy bird watching will want to bring their binoculars along in the campervan. Bald Eagles tend to gather in this area, particularly in the winter when the constant stream of flowing water by the dam provides adequate fishing opportunities during times when the majority of the open water has frozen over. The main campground is the Weigand Campground, with 95 campsites, a marina, two boat ramps, a volleyball court, horseshoe pit, and a playground. The nearby Burbach campground has 97 additional sites suitable for RVs up to 50 feet long.
The Lewis & Clark Lake State Recreation Area is on the southern side of Lewis & Clark Lake, a 16-mile long reservoir lake that straddles the border between Nebraska and South Dakota. It is just 12 miles from the tiny town of Crofton, NE, and a hair over 15 miles from the slightly larger city of Yankton, SD. You will be driving along Nebraska Highway 121 to reach the campground from either the east or the south, a well-paved road with wide shoulders. From the west, there are a few tight turns that may be difficult to traverse in a big-rig, but these can be avoided by traveling south down Highway 81, then navigating northwards on Highway 121 from Crofton. Most GPS maps will recommend that you take 121 to Nebraska 54C Recreation Road, a scenic drive which has several twists and turns. If you wish to avoid the more winding roads, you can take 894 Road to 549 Avenue, then drive north towards the marina. From the west, you can either take the scenic but winding route along Park Road and Nebraska 54C Recreation Road, or you can take a less circuitous route by utilizing NE Road 12 to either NE-54D or to Highway 121.
The park headquarters are located near the Weigand Campground, as are the resort motel and a few modern cabins. Here you will find 95 campsites, all with either 30- or 50-amp electrical hookups, fire rings, and picnic tables, as well as a few tent only sites. Fifty-one of these sites are available for reservation. The sites at the Weigand Campground are level, most are well-shaded by the trees in the area, and many of them are right on the edge of the water. This area also boasts a well-stocked marina, open during the summer months, a picnic shelter, volleyball court, horseshoe pit, and playground to help keep everyone entertained and busy. Pets are welcome at the Lewis & Clark State Recreation area , but must be on a six-foot or shorter leash at all times. Generator use is allowed except during quiet hours, from 10 PM until 6 AM each day.
The Burbach Campground sits right next to the Weigand campground and hosts an additional 97 campsites. Of these sites, 32 are available for reservations.. The majority of the sites in this area have either 30 or 50-watt electrical hookups, but the 12 sites at the southern-most loop of the Burbach Campground have no hookups at all. The sites in this area are level, well-maintained, and well-shaded, with fire rings and picnic tables. There are three pay showers available, as well as several spots with fresh drinking water scattered throughout this campground. Pets are welcome at the Lewis & Clark State Recreation area but must be on a six-foot or shorter leash at all times. Generator use is allowed except during quiet hours, from 10 PM until 6 AM each day.
About half of the campsites at each campground are set aside on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you are planning on visiting the Lewis & Clark Lake State Recreation Area in northeastern Nebraska, you will want to bring your fishing gear in your camper as well. Quality fishing can be found in the Lewis & Clark Lake for many different species, including largemouth, smallmouth, and white bass, walleye, bluegill, crappie, and channel catfish. The bass fishing is particularly good around the marinas and along the rocky shorelines. There are several jetties that were installed around the Weigand-Burbach area of the park specifically to improve the habitat and fishing in the area. There is a fish cleaning area available nearby the lake so that you can clean your fish before returning to your RV campsite.
Lewis & Clark Lake State Recreation Area has both traditional hiking trails as well as a paved trail suitable for bicycle riding, so if you are a cycling enthusiast you will want to be sure that your bicycle is in the campervan. While hiking or biking the 4.5 miles of trails that wind through this lush and vibrant state park, you are likely to spot an assortment of wildlife, including squirrels, chipmunks, wild turkey, deer, and coyotes. This state park is also known for the abundance of raptors that hunt here, particularly bald eagles.
Boating is also a popular activity on the Lewis & Clark Lake, and personal watercraft, high-powered speedboats, and pontoons, are all welcome on this lake. There are a large number of docks and four ramps near the Weigand Marina. The marina, open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, offers full amenities for boaters, including 24-hour gasoline and a pump-out station. Make sure that you check the rules and regulations that are posted for boaters. Zebra mussels, which are known to clog water intakes and damage motorized boats over time, have been found in the lake, and many of the rules are in place in order to prevent the spread of this aquatic invasive species. Be aware that the area of Gavin’s Point that is designated as the Tailwaters area, boats must maintain a speed of 5 mph or lower.
There are around 4.5 miles of trails at Lewis & Clark Lake State Recreation Area that are suitable for horseback riding as well as hiking and biking. The trails start near a primitive equestrian camping area complete with corrals, picnic areas, and restrooms, as well as water for both you and your equine companion. The trails and take you up into the colorful and picturesque hills of Nebraska and provide a stunning view of Lewis & Clark Lake.
Hunting is allowed starting the week after Labor Day in all areas but the Weigand-Burbach campground areas. The Lewis & Clark Lake State Recreation Area offers opportunities to hunt big game, particularly white-tailed deer, as well as upland game, such as pheasant, wild turkey, cottontail rabbits, squirrels, and quail. Lewis & Clark Lake is also popular with hunters who prefer hunting waterfowl as there are numerous species of ducks and geese that are attracted to the bulrushes and cattails, particularly in the late fall and early winter months.
Many birds congregate at the Lewis & Clark Lake State Recreation Area each year, particularly in the spring and fall. Waterfowl, by the thousands, are attracted to Lewis & Clark Lake, including Harlequin, Long-tailed, Red-breasted Mergansers, and all three species of Scoter Ducks. Ross’s Gulls, Least Terns, Piping Plovers, Pomarine Jaegers, and Black-legged Kittiwakes are often spotted from the dam. Occasionally, rarer gulls, such as Bonaparte, Thayer, Sabine, and Mew Gulls, stop this area as well, particularly between October and December. Bald Eagles also congregate near the dam, especially in the frozen winter months between December and February.