Side Trip: Lake McConaughy Recreation Area/Lake Ogallala | State and Area News


*Tourists taking the most direct route to Scotts Bluff National Monument will travel directly to Nebraska’s #1 outdoor attraction.

* Lake McConaughy filled after the 1935-1941 construction of the Kingsley Dam, the hub of the Tri-County Project providing irrigation to farmers in Gosper, Phelps, and Kearney counties in south-central Nebraska.

* Lake Ogallala, below Kingsley, fills the ‘borrow pit’ of what was the second largest earth dam in the world when completed. The Lake McConaughy Water and Visitor Interpretive Center, just south of the dam, tells the story of Kingsley’s construction.

* Also called “Big Mac” or “Lake Mac”, Nebraska’s largest lake has attracted some 1.9 million visitors a year in recent times.

* Most visitor facilities are along the North Rim. Tourists bound for Scottsbluff-Gering should continue west on Nebraska Highway 92.

* Location (dam): Nebraska Highway 61, 6 miles northeast of Ogallala (goes over the dam)

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* Namesakes: Charles W. McConaughy (1859-1941) of Holdrege and George P. Kingsley (1864-1929) of Minden, co-organizers of Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District

* Dimensions: 22 miles long; 3 miles wide at widest point; 142 feet deep near the dam

* Admission: Valid vehicle license for Nebraska gaming and parks required in commission-operated areas; permit fee: annual, $30 for Nebraska residents, $45 for non-residents; per day, $6 for residents, $8 for non-residents

* Camping: Reservations required from May 21; call 308-284-8800 or visit

* Other Ogallala attractions: Front Street, Mansion on the Hill, Boot Hill, Petrified Wood Gallery (visit

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