Most of Nebraska’s scenery is prairie, with acres and acres, miles upon miles of farmland, dotted with small towns, elevation rising as you continue west toward Colorado and Wyoming. But white sand beaches? Yes! Locals have been flocking to the white sand beaches of Lake McConaughy for generations, but “Lake Mac” is also outdoor adventures, scenic diversity, and a whole lot of family adventures.
Discover Lake McConaughy, Nebraska
Nearly everything about Lake McConaughy is big. With 35,700 surface acres and over 100 miles of shoreline, and yes, “Lake Mac” features amazing white sand beaches! The largest lake in Nebraska, Lake McConaughy is 20 miles long, four miles wide and 142 feet deep at the dam. The dam is among the largest of its type in the world, and the fish grow to trophy proportions, accounting for several state records.
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The lake culture is fun and relaxing, and perfect for families, whether you’re into roughing it in a tent, camping in an RV, or you prefer walls and a softer bed in a cabin or motel.
Built on the edge of the Nebraska Sandhills just 8 miles northeast of Ogallala, you’ll be dipping your toes and dropping your fishing line in the lake with its more than 100 miles of shoreline.
Lake Mac is All About the Beaches
Discover miles and miles of BIG Beach fun on the white sand beaches, and a Lake Mac vacation will bring a new family fun tradition to your travels. I grew up in the Midwest (in western Iowa), and I’m so bummed that my first visit to Lake Mac was until last year on Fourth of July weekend!
These signature white-sandy beaches attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Many travelers take a road trip with their families, coming from Nebraska and surrounding states of Iowa, Wyoming, and Colorado.
Families gravitate toward Lake Mac’s Martin Bay Campground on the north shore with its a combination of clean, find sand perfect for a swimming beach. Clusters of trees slightly inland offer shade from hot summer sun. This area also features a ramp (usable during low-water season) with easy access to the cool waters of Lake Mac for boaters, sailing enthusiasts, and water skiers. But with 100 miles of shoreline, vacationers have so many choices to get to those beaches.
Family Friendly Things to Do in Lake Mac
Cool, clear, deep waters, and yes, we said, 100 miles of shoreline give Lake Mac a solid reputation for boating and jet skiing. (Bring your own or rentals available.)
Catch some rays on the beach, fire up the grill for a family barbecue. Step up the adrenalin with a family parasailing adventure. and enjoy the view 500 feet above Lake McConaughy.
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World-class fishing is also a draw, and something the whole family can do. Pick your spot on the shoreline and fish for rainbow trout, catfish, walleye, white and striped bass. Maybe you’ll even reel in the big one — bigger than the current state record at Lake Mac of 16 lbs. 2 oz.
Where to Stay at Lake Mac
This popular lake and camping destination is managed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, so it’s as simple as going online to book your campsite. Families make Lake Mac a tradition, so reserve your spot well in advance. We recommend Cedarvue Campground with its mature trees, proximity to the lake, beach and boat ramp. Prefer four walls? North Shore Lodge features cabins accommodating up to 10 people, rates start at $50. Or you can venture to Ogallala for more traditional motel rooms. Or id you are lucky like we were and took advantage of friends who have lake houses.
Things to Do in Nearby Lake McConaughy, Nebraska
A drive through the immense, rolling hills, mixed-grass prairie of SandHills Journey Scenic Byway is worth the time. Follow in the wagon tracks (literally) of pioneers at Windlass Hill at Ash Hollow State Park. Walk past the old sod house on the wagon-wheel-scarred path to the top. A drive north will take you to the Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge . For a dining adventure, at the I-80 exit 145, take the family
For a dining adventure, at the I-80 exit 145, take the family Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge in downtown Paxton, an 880-yeartradition of great burgers and fine steaks, but the real draw is the more than 200 big game trophies and countless mementos of Ole’s worldwide safaris.