Last week, Beatrice published an article about places you could go with a tank of gas for a short getaway or vacation close to home. Gas prices haven’t gone down, so the theme is still valid. Here it goes:
I focused on Indian Cave State Park last week. We are blessed in this part of the state with many areas where we can enjoy outdoor recreation in that format of a gas tank I wanted to use. This week I’ll cover a couple of areas closer to home that you don’t hear much about, but are worth investigating.
Alexandria Lakes State Recreation Area is about 50 miles west of Beatrice. It is secluded and peaceful, encompassing 55 acres of land with two lakes totaling 46 acres of water. There are many mature trees providing plenty of shade for summer days. Both lakes are designated as no wake lakes, making them perfect for canoes and kayaks. You can use an electric trolling motor to get around or your oars/paddles. I like to drift my canoe at sunset while laying bait under a sliding bobber setup. The scenery and sunsets are beautiful! There is a boat ramp/launch area at Lake #1.
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The lakes were recently renovated and offer excellent fishing opportunities. Largemouth bass is probably what most anglers look for on their visit, but crappie and catfish are probably a close second. There are plenty of hungry bluegills and red-eared sunfish to keep the kids entertained.
Alexandria State Recreation Area offers Electric Plus, Electric and Basic campgrounds. There are 40 sites with 30-amp electrical hookup, five sites with 50-amp electrical hookup, and eight sites without electricity. The campground has potable water, modern restrooms, a playground for younger campers, and a dump and fill station for RVers. All camping is on a first-come, first-served basis. The camper must register and deposit their overnight camping fees near the park entrance in a locked, elevated box. Self-service envelopes, check or cash only provided. I’ve only done a few light truck camps here but would like to bring my RV here one day.
You will need a park entry permit and it will cost $31 for an annual permit or $6 for a daily permit. Campgrounds are $15 for a basic campground, $25 a night for an electric campground, and $35 a night for electric plus campgrounds.
If hunting is one of your hobbies, there is a Wildlife Management Area adjacent to the Alexandria State Recreation Area. There are just over 1,200 acres that offer the opportunity to hunt deer, pigeons, pheasants, quail, rabbits, squirrels, and turkeys in season.
Iron Horse Trail Lake is near DuBois in Pawnee County. It is an NRD lake, so it is rarely mentioned in the NGPC literature. The dam on this lake was built as a flood control structure in the South Fork Creek watershed. It was NRD’s first public recreation area built and opened in 1985. The lake and park were renovated in 2011. There are 360 acres to enjoy with 85 acres of lake. Visiting or camping here will require a vehicle permit from the Nebraska Natural Resources District. That costs $15.
Iron Horse Lake is a fun place to fish. There are a variety of fish species to catch. I remember a trip where I caught a very nice walleye under the spillway.
The lake is designated as a no wake area, but all boats can be put in the water. There are docks to provide better access to angles and there is also an ADA handicapped accessible dock. The lake has a boat ramp, dock, and island to tie up boats, which is a unique feature. I’ve been on a jon boat, but most of my time on the water has been in a canoe. One particular regulation you should be aware of is that live baitfish are not allowed.
There are 11 campsites with RV pads and electrical hookups. There are no water hookups or a dump station. It’s $16/night. Another nine pads are available without hookups and there is no fee for those or the tent camping areas. There are two primitive toilets.
Drinking water is available. Other campground amenities include a playground, picnic shelters and tables, charcoal grills, and fire rings. If you want to venture outside of camp, you can enjoy nature trails, a sandy beach, a swimming area, and a sand volleyball court.
Make sure you enjoy your time outdoors and hopefully you won’t break your budget.