Memphis State Recreation Area

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Memphis State Recreation Area : One of Nebraska’s Finest Parks

Jun 3, 2004 (Updated Jul 13, 2005)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Scenery:
  • Crowds:

Pros:Location, facilities, services, fishing, and Chester!

Cons:None

The Bottom Line: This is the perfect park for those who like to be away from it all, including the crowds and the boats!


One of my favorite outdoor activates is fishing. I also enjoy camping, hiking and animal spotting. One of my favorite spots to go to enjoy the outdoors in Nebraska is the Memphis State Recreation Area. It is located about 36 miles west by south west of Omaha and just about the same distance from Lincoln. The park is just west of the town of Memphis. The Memphis SRA is a 163-acre park containing a 48-acre lake.

What is special about the Memphis SRA?
Lets us start with the location. Being so far away from the two major metro areas of Nebraska it is easy to feel the outdoors. At the same time, being so close to the cities it is rather easy to get to from southeastern Nebraska.

Once you find yourself in the town of Memphis you continue down the 3 block main street. You’ll come to the only stop sign in town and you will see the sign for the park. The road will bend around to the north exposing the your first glance of this beautifully landscaped park. Now that you have entered the park you will see a lodge to your left near the bank of the lake.

Chester is the man in charge at the lodge. He has basic fishing supplies including live worms. He also carries cold soda, ice, and other basic supplies. Yes, he does have bug spray in case you forget it. Chester doesn’t price his goods at outrageous prices either. He does have a grill and can cook up hot dogs and hamburgers. Be prepared though, he runs around most of the time with his shirt off! The lodge is the place to go to rent paddleboats and pay the camping fee.

Current Rates: $3.00 per vehicle/ per day for camping.
$5.00 for 3 hours for a paddleboat, $20 for the day

Chester also can take care of your Nebraska State Park sticker and fishing licensees if you don’t have those already as well. Personally, I find Chester to be an outstanding personality and an attraction himself. He has some great stories and will gab your ear off if you are not careful!

***Important Safety Information: The lodge is not manned after hours. If you every have an emergency at the park, Don's Bar in Memphis would be the best place to go (assuming it is before closing time). It is just south of the stop sign and is the only business in town that is open every day. This area is very rural and you will probably have to wait for response from the country Sheriff or the Nebraska State Troopers. There is no pay phone on site. Cellular coverage is spotty at best here.***

***Nebraska State Park Permit Information: The state parks all require you to display a current Parks sticker. The will run you $3.35 for a daily pass, $17.35 for an annual (if you have more than once vehicle you can get one duplicate, it is $8.85).***

***Camping Costs: $5.00 per vehicle/per day.***


The Memphis SRA was closed for nearly 2 years as the State Parks Department totally drained and dredged the lake. It reopened last year after being stocked with largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegills. I have enjoyed some outstanding fishing with my Shakespeare reel and Berkley rod combo at this lake going after those largemouths! There are no gasoline-powered boats allowed on the lake and there is no launch. This is bank fishing at its best as the 48-acre lake is narrow at one end and the other is nearly 15’ deep. The deep end also has a fishing pier.

You will find all sorts of wildlife on the 163 acres of the park. I have seen Bald Eagles, Whitetail Deer, Ringneck Pheasant, Ground Squirrels, as well as many other wild critters that are sure to delight the youngsters and animal lovers alike.

The park is considered primitive though it does have some facilities. There are 4 brick outhouses that have electricity for nighttime bathroom breaks scattered along the east side of the lake. However the 150 camping sites do not have power outlets. The sites are also the non-pad varity. There is a playground for the kids near the lodge as well as 125 grills and 124 picnic tables. There are 4 water outlets but the water is unfiltered and not suitable for drinking.

Personal Impressions
As an avid fisherman I find the Memphis SRA to be an outstanding park, one of Nebraska’s finest. It is small and remote. But those are attributes I find attractive. The lake has never been very busy. I was there last year on the 4th of July with only about 30 other people at the lake.

The bass fishing is outstanding because the water has little pressure. The land is kept well and the park goers and campers have been cleaning up after themselves. The fish are not monsters but I have caught several 3 pounders using soft plastic lures. The fish are young but they are getting bigger! The lake is 100% catch and release to give them a chance to grow before harvest.

As I said before, Chester also makes this park outstanding. On a hot day when the fish do not seem to want to come out and play, Chester is there in the air conditioned lodge to talk your ear off!

The Memphis SRA is well worth the trip to the country. You and your family will have lots of space to enjoy Nebraska’s wildlife and fishing.

This is my favorite lake in Nebraska. Please go and enjoy it, but please respect it.

Some Important Updates
Alas, Chester has retired and is no longer strutting his stuff around the lake. Don't let that keep you from heading out there though! The new owners will be sure to provide you the same level of service that Chester did.

The state has also installed a new gravel boat ramp to dunk your electric (or person) powered craft.

I am also being told that the water from the pumps is okay to drink.

Thanks to Carilee for giving me the updated information about the park!


Visit my others park reviews:
Summit Lake, NE
DeSoto Bend, NE/IA
Crystal Lake, NE
Wilson Island, IA
Mormon Island, NE


Recommend this product? Yes


Best time to go: Anytime
Recommended for: Anybody
Review Topic: Overview

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