Lake McConaughy, Nebraska, USA

Also known as:  Big Mac

Lake McConaughy, commonly called Big Mac, is Nebraska’s largest reservoir with 30,500 acres and 76 shoreline miles. Lake McConaughy is conveniently located near Interstate 80 in southwestern Nebraska’s Prairie Lakes region near the city of Ogallala, the county seat of Keith County. Although Big Mac was created to serve as an irrigation reservoir and hydroelectric plant for southwest Nebraska, the lake is a major recreation destination for fishing, boating, sailing, – READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Lake McConaughy! Article topics include:

Looking for Lake McConaughy cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore more of our favorite travel partners.

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Lake McConaughy! Article topics include:

Looking for Lake McConaughy cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore more of our favorite travel partners.

All About Lake McConaughy

Lake Locations: USA - Midwest - Nebraska - Prairie Lakes -

Lake McConaughy, commonly called Big Mac, is Nebraska’s largest reservoir with 30,500 acres and 76 shoreline miles. Lake McConaughy is conveniently located near Interstate 80 in southwestern Nebraska’s Prairie Lakes region near the city of Ogallala, the county seat of Keith County. Although Big Mac was created to serve as an irrigation reservoir and hydroelectric plant for southwest Nebraska, the lake is a major recreation destination for fishing, boating, sailing, windsurfing, water sports, camping and hunting.

The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District created Lake McConaughy by impounding the North Platte River. The Kinsley Dam was built between 1936 and 1941 as part of the New Deal Project. Kinsley Dam is one of the world’s largest earthen dams, 3.1 miles long and 162 feet high. Today, Big Mac provides irrigation water to more than 220,000 acres along the Platte and North Platte Rivers and hydropower to Nebraska homes, farms, and industries. At normal conservation pool, Lake McConaughy covers 30,500 acres; at full capacity the lake’s surface increases to 35,700 acres.

Lake McConaughy is a recreational gem known for its sandy beaches and diverse terrain. The eastern portion of Big Mac is dominated by the Kinsley Dam, where waters can reach depths of 135 feet. The wetland areas at the west end are shallow where the North Platte River enters the lake. Grassy sand hills and sandy beaches lined with cottonwood trees span the north shore. Steep cliffs sculpted by wind and water border the lake’s southern shore near the dam, gradually decreasing in height to sandy grassland similar to the north shore. Most development, lake access, and recreation areas are located on Lake McConaughy’s north and south shores. Most private housing and a golf course are located on the south shore.

Lake McConaughy is Nebraska’s best walleye fishery. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission estimates that there are more than 320,000 walleye at the legal size of 15 inches or longer. Record walleye reach up to 29 inches. Other Big Mac species include hook wipers, white bass, catfish, and northern pike. Lake Ogallala, located on the other side of the Kinsley Dam, is Nebraska’s premier trout fishery. Anglers reel in brown and rainbow trout measuring 20 inches or more.

Almost all of the property owned by the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District is leased to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) for recreation and wildlife management. The lake’s shoreline is open to the public for camping, except during nesting season for some bird species. The Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area operates three campgrounds on the north shore: Cedar Vue, Lone Eagle, and Little Thunder. A park entry permit is required. The Lake McConaughy Visitors Center and Water Interpretive Center, located near the dam on a bluff overlooking the lake, include a freshwater aquarium, theater, and a Big Mac community room for meetings and receptions. The Clear Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) encompasses more than 6,200 wetland acres at the west end of the lake. Thousands of waterfowl, shorebirds, and sandhill cranes visit the WMA annually, a popular destination for nature lovers and bird watchers. Hunters seek deer, geese, ducks, turkey, and other wildlife at public hunting areas within the WMA.

Drought has significantly impacted the North Platte River and Lake McConaughy since the turn of the century. At normal conservation pool, the lake level of Big Mac is 3,265 feet above sea level. Levels dipped below 3,200 feet in 2004-2005, but have been recovering since that time. Because of Lake McConaughy’s large size and depth, anglers, boaters, campers, and wildlife enthusiasts continue to enjoy Big Mac’s recreational opportunities.

Things to Do at Lake McConaughy

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish Species Found at Lake McConaughy

  • Bass
  • Catfish
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • White Bass

All About Lake McConaughy

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake McConaughy

The Lake McConaughy map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.


More Ways to Book a Lake McConaughy Vacation

While our interactive map above is perfect for comparing LAKENAME rental homes (with VRBO) and nearby hotels (with Booking.com), there might be times when you need to expand your search with a different type of accommodation. Here are some other LAKNAME lodging partners you might want to explore:

Check TripAdvisor
Explore RV Rentals
Find a Campspot
View All Resources

Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission. Read our full disclosure policy here.


More Sites to Book a Lake McConaughy Vacation

Our interactive lodging map shown above is perfect for comparing LAKENAME VRBO rental homes and nearby Booking.com hotels, there are times when you need to expand your search for different types of accommodation. Here are some other LAKNAME lodging partners you can explore:

Check TripAdvisor
Explore RV Rentals
Find a Campspot
View All Resources

Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission. Read our disclosure policy here.


More Sites to Book a Lake McConaughy Vacation

Our interactive lodging map shown above is perfect for comparing LAKENAME VRBO rental homes and nearby Booking.com hotels, there are times when you need to expand your search for different types of accommodation. Here are some other LAKNAME lodging partners you can explore:

Check TripAdvisor
Explore RV Rentals
Find a Campspot
View All Resources

Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission. Read our disclosure policy here.


Recommended Sites to Book a Lake McConaughy Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Lake McConaughy lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.
ALL TRAVEL RESOURCES

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District

Surface Area: 30,500 acres

Shoreline Length: 76 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 3,265 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 3,200 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 3,270 feet

Maximum Depth: 135 feet

Water Volume: 1,756,300 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1941

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

More Lake McConaughy news from LakeLubbers.com

  • Advertise your vacation rental property or local business: DETAILS HERE
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  • New Lake McConaughy photos coming soon!
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  • Share this Lake McConaughy article with your fellow LakeLubbers:

Do you have a vacation rental property at Lake McConaughy? Coming in 2022, LakeLubbers will have an opportunity for you to showcase your listing and put it in front of thousands of lake lovers searching our site for homes, condos or townhomes to rent for their upcoming lake trip this season.

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LakeLubbers previously offered visitors the ability to create accounts and participate in lake forums. When we overhauled the site’s content management system in 2021 we had to disable those features. We’re evaluating options and welcome your comments and feedback here.

We also encourage you to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook and Instagram!

Click here to advertise your Lake McConaughy vacation rental or local business.

The former Lake McConaughy forum is closed. Find out why here.

New Lake McConaughy photo gallery is coming soon.

Please share this article with your fellow lake lovers!

Spread the word! Share our Lake McConaughy article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

Explore local Lake McConaughy vacation rentals and hotel accommodations using our interactive map. Clicking on listings below will allow you to compare nearby properties, best rates and availability for your dates.

Looking for the old Lake McConaughy forum group? Click Here

New Lake McConaughy photos coming soon!

Vacation Home Name

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  • 2 bedrooms
  • 2 bathrooms
  • hot tub
  • wifi