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Your 4 season, family fun, Nebraska Sandhills adventure awaits!


Merritt Reservoir

The sandy beaches stretch for miles and rival that of both the coasts...o.k., a little exaggerated there, but they are simply stellar when Merritt Reservoir has been drawn down to irrigate the corn in Ainsworth, which is 70 miles away. 

With 44 miles of sandy and treed beaches, it's certainly worth it to make the drive and see this jewel of a playground. Of course, the water is great for so many things...cooling off, fishing, tubing, water skiing, or fun on a jet ski. It's also great for just relaxing on a pontoon or paddle boat. 

But it is for the fish that draws people in all seasons; in particular the Walleye. And there are enough places to catch them in the 11 mile long lake. There are also several places along the sandy shores to camp - which is mainly primitive or close to it. There are eight camping areas around Merritt Reservoir that have 200 camp sites - from rustic and private, to handicap accessible.

However, for those who would prefer water and electric hook-ups, they are available near Merritt Trading Post at the east end of the reservoir where there is also a trailer dumping station. 

The Cedar Bay Recreation Area has electrical hookups and also has a modern shower building that is wheelchair accessible. 

Stop by Wrights Bait before heading out to Merritt for all your permit needs; from Nebraska Game and Park Permits to gain entry to the reservoir,  to fishing and hunting permits. They always have a smile, joke, or story to share along with plenty of snacks and beverages. 


Merritt Trading Post, located at the reservoir, has fuel for motorized watercraft and the trip back to Valentine, 23 miles away. 

There are cabins, RV hookups, public showers.  The Water's Edge Restaurant maybe available for times when the fishing didn't go as planned. 

Merritt Reservoir was completed in May of 1964 by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and is operated by the Ainsworth Irrigation District to irrigate approximately 34,539 acres. Merritt Reservoir is managed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and a permit is required. 

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