The 35-acre Sutherland State Recreation Area in Nebraska is centered around the Sutherland Reservoir, which offers 3,017 acres of swimming, boating, and fishing fun. There is a swimming and sunbathing beach close to each of the campgrounds where you can soak up some sun before heading back to your RV for the night. Bring your furry friend along too because the park has a three-acre fenced dog park for your pooch to enjoy.
The Sutherland Reservoir is part of the public power district’s hydropower system of Nebraska, which supplies the water for the Gerald Gentleman Power Plant. The dam here was completed in 1935 and was part of the hydroelectric and irrigation storage system. Although it is still used for power, the reservoir is more commonly used as a recreational area for the public.
But the park has more to offer than just the lake. You can also play some golf on the nine-hole golf course while you are here. They have courses for both beginners and those with more experience. Sutherland State Recreation Area also has a designated wildlife area for those who want to hunt and if you need some practice, they have trap shooting ranges for you to use. Whether you have come for the day or wish to stay for the whole week, you can find the perfect campsite in one of the three campgrounds surrounding the southern end of the lake.
RV Rentals in Sutherland State Recreation Area
Transportation in Sutherland State Recreation Area
Just two miles south of Sutherland, Nebraska, off Interstate 80 and the Great Plains Indian Highway (Hwy 25), you will find the scenic beauty of the Sutherland State Recreation Area. To get to Sutherland Reservoir from the I-80 exit head four miles south on Highway 25 and turn left at the entrance sign, which is on the southern end of the reservoir. If you are coming from the south, take Highway 34 off Interstate 6 to Highway 25.
Highway 25 can be a bit tricky if you are driving a large campervan or pulling a trailer due to the narrow and winding roads. During bad weather these roads may be especially dangerous with any kind of precipitation on the roads making them slick. Winter can be even more treacherous when there is snow or ice on the roads so check the street conditions before heading to the park. You should also watch out for wildlife that tend to wander out onto the road sometimes.
Inside Sutherland State Recreational Area, the narrow gravel roads are typically in good condition but there may be low hanging branches during the spring. Since the park is small, it is best to park the RV at the campsite and walk to wherever you are going.
Campgrounds and parking in Sutherland State Recreation Area
Campsites in Sutherland State Recreation Area
Westshore Area Campground
Just north of the Inlet Area Campground, you will find the Westshore Area Campground. This is a large section of wooded area along the banks of the Sutherland Reservoir that has primitive camping. The campground has 35 campsites with picnic tables and fire rings, but no pads. These are typically used for tents only but there are some where RVs are able to go. For more information, talk to the park ranger or another park employee at the camper registration office. There is also a handpump hydrant and vault latrine within walking distance. If you brought your boat, this area also has a boat ramp for your convenience. All sites are first-come, first-served so make sure you get there early during the warmer months. Pets are allowed as long as they are kept on a leash or otherwise restrained at all times.
Outlet Area Campground
Outlet Area Campground is on the southeastern corner of the lake. The beautiful wooded area has 25 campsites with picnic tables, fire rings, and a pad with enough space for most RVs or trailers. There are two handpump hydrants; one by the campground and the other by the boat ramp. The vault latrines are near the water pumps. All sites are first-come, first-served so make sure you get there early during the warmer months. Pets are allowed as long as they are kept on a leash or otherwise restrained at all times.
Inlet Area Campground
Inlet Area Campground is on the southwestern corner of the lake. This spacious campground has 25 campsites with picnic tables, fire rings, and a pad with enough space for most RVs or trailers. You can find a pressure hydrant nearby with potable water and a handpump hydrant just across the lake. There are two vault latrines; one next to each of the hydrants. The fishing pier is ADA-accessible and there is a fish cleaning station to clean whatever fish you catch so you can cook them for dinner. All sites are first-come, first-served so make sure you get there early during the warmer months. Pets are allowed as long as they are kept on a leash or otherwise restrained at all times.
Seasonal activities in Sutherland State Recreation Area
There are not many state parks with golf courses to use but the Sutherland State Recreation Area is unique. Right next to the reservoir you can find a nine-hole golf course with large greens and wide fairways. Whether you are an experienced golfer or are playing for the first time, you can enjoy the grass bunkers and rolling hills of the Oregon Trail Golf Course. The course ratings here are blue - 35.1/107 and white - 34.2/104. So don’t forget to pack the clubs in the camper before heading out.
Whether you have a big pontoon boat or a tiny raft, make sure you hook it up to the rig when you come to Sutherland Reservoir. There are three ramps and two boat docks available to the public and many kinds of water sports are enjoyed here. You can enjoy some skiing, wakeboarding, or just cruise around the lake and enjoy the beauty of it all. The average depth of the reservoir is about 25 feet with some areas as deep as 60 feet.
Don’t forget to put the fishing gear in the camper before you head to the park. White bass, walleye, striped bass, trout, smallmouth bass, and channel catfish can all be found in the reservoir. There are also a large number of bluegill, perch, sunfish, crawfish, and numerous species of turtles. There is an ADA-accessible pier and fish cleaning station by the Inlet Area Campground. The bass, crappie, perch, and trout prefer the clear rocky water around the dam while catfish and walleye are more likely to be caught on the bottom anywhere there is deep water.
If you enjoy watching the birds, Sutherland State Recreation Area has a large number of species to see. You can spot the American white pelican, cormorants, diving ducks, and wintering grebes. The elusive Ross’ gull, Thayer’s gull, and glaucous gull have all been spotted here as well. During the winter, many geese and other waterfowl visit due to the fact that the lake rarely freezes because of the power plant. If you come in the morning, you can usually spot raptors such as the bald eagle and red-tailed hawk.
Gather all your family and friends and pack them in the campervan before heading to Sutherland State Recreation Area for a picnic. Whether you want to BBQ, pack a lunch, or grab some grub from one of the restaurants in town, you will have plenty of choices of picnic areas. There are 17 picnic tables with 33 grills, which gives you many different atmospheres to choose from. Public vault toilets and latrines are available in many areas of the park as well as potable water pumps for your convenience.
Whether you enjoy hunting for pleasure or for eating, Sutherland State Recreation Area has plenty of hunting opportunities including many species of waterfowl, pheasant, and doves. During the fall, turkey, deer, and elk are numerous and provide many chances to bag a buck or gobbler. You can also find a plethora of rabbits, squirrels, and quails in the park. Be sure to check the Nebraska State Hunting rules for the proper dates and regulations and then you can pack your hunting gear in the rig and head for the park.