In addition to environmental restoration and flood control benefits, the Lake Wanahoo/Sand Creek Watershed Project offers public recreation, including fishing, no-wake boating, tent and RV camping, hiking/biking, picnicking, and more. The Lake Wanahoo State Recreation Area, managed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, opened on April 28, 2012.
The area takes its name from Wanahoo Park, a popular recreation area that operated in the Wahoo area through the mid-1960s (see pictures and a history of Wanahoo Park here).
Rules & Regulations
- Entrance to the park requires a state park permit from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
- Permits can be purchased from these local vendors: Wahoo Bait and Tackle, Security Home Bank in Malmo, State Bank of Colon, and Commercial State Bank in Cedar Bluffs. Permits are also available for online purchase from Game and Parks here, or at the NRD office (Monday-Friday, 8 am-4:30 pm).
- Vehicles should stay on the hard surfaces, as seeded grass has not become established.
- No camping reservations are available; all RV and tent camping sites are first-come, first-served. Camping fees are:
- Gravel pads (with electricity) - $17/night
- Grass pads (with electricity) - $13/night
- Tent sites - $7/night
- Boating is no-wake with a 5 mph speed limit. The boat ramp can accomodate up to three boats at a time.
- Catch and Release is required for all Northern Pike.
- All Largemouth Bass less than 21 inches in length must be released.
- No live bait fish allowed.
- All other Nebraska state park regulations apply.
The 1,777-acre recreation area straddles the 662-acre Lake Wanahoo, with camping and boating access on the west side and a day use area on the east.
A rocked hiking/biking trail winds throughout the park, linking the east and west side recreation areas over a breakwater levee one mile north of the dam. Mowed trails north of the levee provide access to undeveloped areas set aside for wildlife habitat.
Camping & Boating
The camping area on the west side offers 74 camper pads, 60 tent camping sites and a shower house. All camper pads are equipped with electrical hookups and 50 of them are hard surfaced, with the remainder on grass. All tent sites will have fire rings and picnic tables.
The camping area also offers easy access to a large boat ramp that's wide enough to accommodate three boats at a time. Boating at the lake will be no-wake only.
The day use area on the east side of the lake is a great location for groups both big and small, with two large picnic shelters and two smaller ones, all offering scenic views of the lake.
Both the camping and day use areas provide excellent fishing access, with a total of seven fishing jetties. One jetty on each side has an attached handicapped pier.
Numerous habitat structures and shoreline protection features were designed into the lake to provide a high-quality fishery. The lake is stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, blue catfish, crappie, northern pike, and walleye.
Limited hunting opportunities will continue to be available at Lake Wanahoo through the popular PATH Program, where adults can schedule a time to mentor a youth hunter at designated hunting sites north of the recreation area. Get more details here.
The four-lane Highway 77 bypass will run across the dam. The Nebraska Department of Roads will let the project for bids in the second half of 2013 for a possible 2014 construction date.