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Northwest Missouri's Longview Lake is one of the recreational focal points of Jackson County Parks and Recreation. The 930-acre lake lies amid 4,852-acre Longview Lake Park and provides outdoor amenities for nearly every purpose. Built for flood control, recreation, wildlife and fish conservation, Longview Lake demonstrates the best aspects of a federal and local shared project. Part of the Little Blue River Project, Congress first approved funding the dam and reservoir in 1968. When the project officially opened in 1986, many of the recreational facilities were already developed and ready for visitors.
Just a few miles southeast of Kansas City and near the growing suburban community of Lee's Summit, Longview Lake is the destination for boating, swimming, fishing and camping. Boating here is great fun, with water skiing, jet skiing, tubing, pontooning and sailing all on the menu. All boats and motors must have a county boat sticker attached, and certain restrictions are in place. Windsurfing is only allowed Monday through Thursday and prohibited on Fridays, weekends and holidays. Stand-up paddle boards are not permitted. A full-service concession marina rents pontoon boats and fishing boats, sells dockside gas, rents overnight slips and supplies fishing tackle, bait and boating supplies. Two public boat ramps allow launching for a fee.
An acre of sandy beach provides plenty of swim area for all ages at Longview Lake. Sun bathing, beach volleyball, picnicking, nature observation, and food and snacks are available in the park. Several miles of paved walking trails vie for the visitor's attention with six miles of hard-surfaced bicycle trail included. Fourteen large picnic shelters scattered around the park may be reserved for family reunions and special gatherings. A fully-equipped softball complex contains five lighted softball fields, an observation/concession building, picnic tables and restrooms. A public golf course offers an 18-hole course, a 9-hole executive course, a driving range, putting green and clubhouse.
Longview Lake was stocked from its earliest day by the Missouri Department of Conservation with walleye, channel catfish, largemouth bass, crappie and bluegill. Fishermen enjoy the coves and narrow arms of the lake where plenty of bottom structure attracts 'keeper'-size fish. Many a fisherman takes home the makings of a fish fry after a day fishing here. The Department of Conservation monitors fish density and health, stocking those with lower numbers when necessary. Missouri fishing licenses can be purchased at the marina store, where other anglers will be glad to share their secrets on where to find the best catch and advise on baits and lures.
The campground features over 100 sites, some with full services for RVs, many with electricity and a few with more primitive tent sites. Open from April 1st to September 30th, the campground provides showers, rest rooms, picnic tables, charcoal grills, a playground and laundry facilities. An attendant is on duty, and ice and firewood can be purchased. A small fishing pond is available to offer a fishing experience more suited to children. Separate dog-training area and radio-controlled aircraft field are also provided. Reservations for campsites are suggested on many summer weekends.
A separate Equestrian Park within Longview Lake Park offers 54 acres for pleasure riding, with a lighted show arena, jumping course, cross-country course, carriage obstacle course, 115-stall barn and meeting/clubhouse. A trailer permit from Jackson County is required for horse trailers using the facilities, and other fees are required for specific events. Longview Lake Campground is the location for several annual events, including a popular 'Christmas In The Park' display featuring 175 animated displays and over 300,000 lights. Every summer, the Tour de Lakes 'Bike Ride' occurs in the area, part of which circles Longview Lake. Not an actual bike race, participants are required to register and may select from several different courses of varying lengths.
The campus of Metropolitan Community College-Longview abuts the park and is the site of the annual Flights of Fancy Kite Festival. Besides watching professionals fly unusual and high-tech kites, there are opportunities for children to join the fun with kite-making, face painting, navigating an inflatable maze, and watching balloon artists create fun shapes. Most years, the Flights of Fancy Run/Walk occurs simultaneously, with courses for 5K, 10K and 1.5-mile races drawing a large number of participants. With all of these activities, it isn't hard to see how Longview Lake Park welcomes over a million visitors a year.
Longview Lake gained its name-and its land-from the former well-known showplace, Longview Farms. The former 1700+ acre Longview Farms was the country estate of noted Kansas City lumber baron, R.A. Long. Long's daughter Loula and her husband lived at Longview and raised prize show horses, purebred Jersey dairy cattle, and prize roses in floral greenhouses. Loula was a noted horsewoman and is listed in the Madison Square Gardens Hall of Fame. Near the end of their lives, Loula and her sister Sally donated the land for Longview Community College. The equestrian park incorporates some of the horse facilities. The US Army Corps of Engineers purchased part of the farm for Longview Lake. Other portions were sold to developers, helping to grow the local housing economy. The family mansion and the remaining farm buildings are in the care of the New Longview Foundation, with the mansion often rented for weddings and society events.
Lee's Summit is a city with plenty of activity in all seasons. Only 16 miles from Kansas City, Lee's Summit is known for its wide variety of shopping venues, youth entertainment and exciting nightlife. Named a Great American Main Street in 2010, downtown Lee's Summit holds a number of specialty shops, unusual eateries and local flavor. Several major hotel chains offer lodgings as do several guest inns and bed & breakfasts. The area is rich in history, facing much conflict as a border area between Union and Confederate sympathizers during and after the Civil War. The Lee's Summit Historical Society Museum, located in the downtown 1905 train depot, is a wealth of information on how the area fared during that era. Real estate is available in all areas near Longview Lake, although not on the lake itself. So, on your next trip to Kansas City, come visit Longview Lake and the Park. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the treasures the lake holds.
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