Archeological sites investigated in the Clinton Lake region indicate that prehistoric Indian hunting groups in the area as early as 8000 BC. Later, from 1000 to 1500 AD, groups living in the region used it for intensive farming practices. Most of northeastern Kansas was inhabited by the Kansa Indians, who eventually sold portions of their land to the US Government in 1824. The Wakarusa River basin was then used as a Shawnee Indian Reservation for relocated tribes from Ohio and Missouri. Then, in 1854, Lawrence was founded by abolitionists and the growing city became a major factional headquarters in the slave-state vs. free-state conflict.
Congress authorized Clinton Lake in 1962. The first funds for construction were appropriated in 1971 and nearly $55 million later, the initial filling of Clinton Lake began in 1977. The lake was filled slowly over a three year period and the multipurpose pool level was reached in 1980.
Clinton Lake extends 8 miles up the Wakarusa Valley and covers 7,000 surface acres. Clinton Lake’s bluffs, wooded shorelines and clear water provide unequalled beauty as well as habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife species.
Learn more about the History of Clinton Lake: Army Corp of Engineers
Clinton Lake is a 7,000-acre lake that provides a variety of fishing opportunities for any angler. This primarily includes white bass, crappie, channel catfish, walleye and large mouth bass. There are many parks around the lake that offer camping opportunities while visiting the lake. The major parks offer boat ramp access to the lake with shower buildings and many campsites with electrical hookups. There are 25 documented fish species in Clinton Lake, but the most of fishermen seek just a handful of popular game fish species.
Read the Daily Fishing Report: Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks
Seven campgrounds are conveniently located around Clinton Lake. The Corps of Engineers manages five of these campgrounds, Cedar, Walnut and Hickory in the Bloomington East Park, Rockhaven Park and Woodridge Park. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks manages two within the Clinton State Park, Campground #1 and Campground #3.
User fees are charged for camping in parks, with the exception of Woodridge. The amount of the fee is based on the type of facilities provided.
Campgrounds contain level campsites, many with electrical hookups, some with electrical and water hookups, lantern hanging posts, picnic tables, and fire rings or above ground grills. Shower buildings, sanitary dump stations and playgrounds are located in the more developed parks. Please click on campground specific information for a complete list of amenities and fees for each campground.
Entrance stations or park attendant booths are located at the more developed park areas. Park Rangers and Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputies routinely patrol all campgrounds.
Learn about Camping at Clinton Lake: Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks
Learn about Camping at Woodridge Park: Army Corp of Engineers
Learn about Camping at Rockhaven Park: Army Corp of Engineers
Learn about Camping at Bloomington East Park: Army Corp of Engineers
Reserve a campground or cabin at Clinton Lake: Reserve America
Clinton Lake is known for the many quality and diverse trails located around the lake. There are over 50 miles of trails around the lake which are quite popular with the various types of recreational users that utilize them.
Learn more about Trails at Clinton Lake: Army Corp of Engineers
When visiting Clinton Lake be sure to stop at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Information/Visitor Center located northwest of the dam. The helpful staff will be happy to answer questions, provide maps and brochures and help make your visit more enjoyable.
The Visitor Center has several informative displays covering topics such as the history of the area, reasons for the dam, and wildlife of the area. There is also an interactive computer display, which offers ample information on Clinton Lake, as well as the other Kansas City District Lakes.
The next time you visit Clinton Lake, stop by the Visitor Center and check out the displays. Try out the new interactive computer display and speak with the staff to find out what types of recreational activities are available at Clinton Lake.
Visitor Center hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily May 1 through September 30, and 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday the rest of the year.
Contact the Corps of Engineers Visitor Center/Information Center at (785) 843-7665.
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