About 40 miles from the Colorado border is a not so hidden gem full of beach camping, abundant shoreline, and endless summer fun. Lake McConaughy (locally referred to as Lake Mac) is eight miles Northeast of Ogallala, Nebraska. The water is cool with a greenish blue color and white sand similar to the Gulf of Mexico. At full storage, Lake Mac is twenty miles long, four miles wide, and 142 feet deep at the dam according to ilovelakemac.com.
We stayed at Lone Eagle Campground on the North side of the lake for 5 nights. Our spot had fullhook ups (water, electric, and sewer) but not all sites had sewer and some shared a water hydrant. All the spots were spacious with a fire ring and picnic table. We stayed in spot 25 and had a partial lake view. There were mowed walkways from the campground to the beach which was about 100 ft from our rig. People mostly stayed to their own groups and were gone most of the day playing on the water. There was a playground and bathrooms available.
At sunset the field behind us would fill with hundreds of dragon flies eating the evening bugs which was very helpful to keep the mosquitoes down. The evening also brought out dozens of frogs ranging in sizes and some as big as a baseball. The kids would gather as many as they could in budgets and them dump them out near the lake before bed.
Sunscreen is a must (of course) but so is bug spray!
Jeremiah got a tick, which luckily we found it shortly after it attached. We found 4 more crawling around in the trailer while we packed up. So ensure kids and dogs are sprayed down everyday. There is a lot of brush around the campground which is perfect spots for those pesky ticks. Check out the this website for tick information and removal.
Beach Camping Options
Beach Camping is available for a minimal cost and a lot of people choose this option. The sand is very soft and we sank up in to our mid shins in some spots so be warned. There are tractors for hire that can move your rig to and from the beach for around $20. I would highly recommend this option because if you get stuck its $300 to get out (or at least that is what we were told). Beach camping is on our bucket list but we were hesitant to try it at a place we have never been too. Maybe next time we will give it a try. It looked like a wonderful experience and everyone seemed to enjoy their time being so close to the water.
There are so many water activities to do including boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, and floating. We ended up purchasing two inflatable kayaks form a local person on Facebook Marketplace. We had a blast using them and even got Diesel in one a few times. The lake was pretty smooth and easy to maneuver the kayaks even with boats going by. The lake is so large that it didn't seem crowded when we there, maybe weekends are a different experience though.
We went to Big Mac Marina in Arthur Bay and rented a jet ski for 4 hours. It was the perfect duration for us as we took turns with the kids, and Steve and I went alone a few times too. The kids had a hay day and got more comfortable as the day went on. Their favorite thing was to jump off the jet ski and swim back to it while we were away from shore. The jet ski rental was priced comparable to what we have seen at other lakes, we spent $250 for the rental and about $40 in gas.
Tip: Call ahead to make rental reservation because there is a good chance they are already full.
Fishing is also big on the lake and while we didn't partake, we saw a lot of large fish near the surface while riding around on the jet ski. Overall there is so much to do on the water and you could easily fill a few days of fun for the family.
Weather our here is no joke, it comes in quickly and can be really bad. We had bad weather 3 nights out of the 5 while we there including hail and high winds. My sister-in-law has been at the lake with a tornado and campers ended up in the lake. So just be careful, watchful, and if weather comes get to safe location as quick as possible. During our time it was slightly humid and most days where in the upper 80s and lower 90s. Bring sunscreen and hats!
Overall Take Away
We will definitely be back but with friends next time. 5 nights was a little too long for us, 3 would have been ideal, but it may be different if we have others to hang out with. Next time we would like to try to stay at Little Thunder Campground which is closer to the dam. As a fulltime RV traveling family this was a great spot, fun to be so close to the water, the amenities were great and the large camp site was appreciated.