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In the western strip of Nebraska known as "the Panhandle" lies the 2,158 acre Lake Minatare. This reservoir is located in Nebraska's North Platte Valley and is part of the North Platte Valley Wildlife Refuge. It was formed by the 114-foot tall Minatare Dam, which was built on the Supply Canal River in the early 1900's. The dam is owned by the Bureau of Reclamation. Lake Minatare is used for irrigation purposes, and every summer the level of the lake is reduced significantly as water is drained to irrigate the surrounding area.
Lake Minatare is part of the Lake Minatare State Recreation Area, which is run by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. It is open to the public from January to September. The recreation area has everything you need for an enjoyable stay at the lake including camping areas, boating facilities, and a nice, sandy swimming beach. Campers can enjoy a variety of conveniences such as restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and more.
A variety of activities are enjoyed on Lake Minatare. It's always fun to sit back and relax on a boat, letting the wind blow through your hair as you explore the lake and enjoy the surrounding scenery. And who can resist the thrill of plowing through the waves on water skis? You can enjoy these and other activities on the expansive waters of Lake Minatare.
And, of course, there's plenty of fishing. Lake Minatare is popular with anglers, who reel in a variety of fish species. Channel catfish, crappie, yellow perch, white bass, and walleye are some of the types of fish that are common in the lake. If you're looking for a place to launch your boat, there are several ramps around the lake.
One of the unique attractions near the lake is the Lake Minatare Lighthouse, a stone structure built by the Veterans Conservations Corps in 1939. It is one of the few inland lighthouses in the U.S., and the only lighthouse in Nebraska. Ironically, it is not actually a lighthouse, as it does not have a light; it was built to be a shelter instead of a warning beacon. However, it's a fun landmark to visit and visitors can climb the 55-foot tower to get a fantastic view of the surrounding area.
If you still have some time left, you may want to explore some of the area's fascinating history. Chimney Rock, Courthouse and Jail Rocks, and Scotts Bluff National Monument are all nearby. These well-known formations were all important landmarks on the various pioneer trails heading west, including the Oregon Trail. Another great place to learn more about the area's unique history is the North Platte Valley Museum in Gering. This fun and educational museum has unique exhibits from the pioneer era, and even has a replica sod house and log cabin.
If you're looking for a place that that combines the wild beauty and grandeur of the West with its interesting and amazing history, try visiting Lake Minatare. You won't be disappointed.
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