Pros: Top-Notch facilities, informative and helpful staff, very clean
Cons: No lodge, uncooperative fish (at least for me!) and no Chester!
As you may already know, I enjoy traveling to Nebraskas state parks. I am an avid fisherman and I enjoy the outdoors very much. When time allows I will often pack up my Saturn and head for the proverbial hills. On one of my adventures I found myself heading for the Mormom Island State Recreation Area just south of Grand Island, NE. I had passed it many times heading west and had wanted to take in what the park had to offer for a long time.
What makes the Mormon Island SRA so special?
I have actually visited this park several times now. The first time I ended up at the Mormon Island SRA as a second choice after the first park I went to was a major disappointment. This 152-acre park is located just north of I-80 at exit 312 (Grand Island/ Hastings exit). You cannot miss it. Just head north of the interstate and make your first right.
Grand Island is about 153 miles west of Omaha in Hall County. So for me it takes a bit of commitment to travel that far just to tug out a couple of fish. Having seen the Mormon Island SRA several times already from I-80, I knew that the park was beautiful before I ever even drove through the entrance. Once you come up to the gate of this modern state park you can see how striking the grounds are. You will be greeted by a friendly park staff member checking for your current Nebraska State Parks sticker. If you do not have one, they will be able to help you out right there.
Driving through past the greeter the road will wrap around large patches of large mature trees and show off more of the beauty the park has to offer. Heading towards the lake you will pass a shower building that also has a laundry. That is outstanding. Mormon Island SRA also offers several other nice amenities.
The 61-acre lake was once a sandpit used to make the interstate but was converted to a park after construction in the 60s. They let nature take her course and fill the lake from the high water table and then stocked the lake with Walleye, Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, and Channel Catfish.
***Nebraska State Park Permit Information: The state parks all require you to display a current Parks sticker. The will run you $3.00 for a daily pass, $17.00 for an annual (if you have more than once vehicle it is $8.50 for every additional).***
As the rates have recently changed for camping at this park I do not have the current rate. I will update you once I find out. I do know that camping is first come, first served.
***Safety Information: The park is always staffed. If you ever run into a problem go back to the gate and a staff member will help you. There is a pay phone on site. Cellular coverage is very good from most local carriers in the park as well.***
What does the Mormon Island SRA have to offer?
Aside from the amazing scenery, the modern shower house and the laundry you will also find 34 modern campsites with 20/30/50 amp power as well as 4 padded campsites without power. I did pass an RV dump station shortly past the greeter station.
Mormon Island SRA also has several modern restrooms with power. There are 100 picnic tables, 71 grills, and several fire pits. While visiting last summer I noticed that the Parks Department had installed a very nice floating aluminum dock but there was not a launch. Non-gas powered boats are the only boats allowed in the water anyway. But there is a swimming beach on the east side of the lake with changing rooms!
I was simply amazed with the grounds. I visited late February of this year to see the largest migration of Sandhill Cranes in North America. They filled the park with song and dance and made fishing secondary to just the simple enjoyment of witnessing this wondrous sight. The cranes hang out at the park till March before heading on to nest in the sandhills of Nebraska.
I take every chance I get to use my rod and reel. I really enjoy Nebraskas waters and parks. Of the states I have been to, Nebraska has some of the finest to offer. The Mormon Island SRA did not let me down. Every time I have visited I have been greeted in a friendly manner by a very helpful attendant who answered all my questions.
The park itself is the nicest looking that I have visited in Nebraska. The campers were all respectful of the land and cleaned up after themselves as did the fishermen. The grounds are surrounded with large mature trees that provide shade on the open areas. There are many places to lay down a blanket away from the camp sites and have a picnic. Even though the interstate is very close, the noise is almost drowned out by the trees.
The facilities were all very clean and well maintained. It was like visiting a private lake, one of those high brow fancy club lakes!
I am desperately seeking large fish. I am always on the trail of these forever-elusive finned monsters. That was a major reason for heading to these mature waters. I am sad to say that I have not had much luck at the Mormon Island SRA with the fish. There are remote feeders on the lake so I am sure the fish have been somewhat "trained" to eat at certain times. I am not sure if I am fishing at the wrong time or with the wrong tackle or technique. I have seen others have success but I am not one to bug other fishermen about their fishing nuances. Maybe it is an ego thing. But do not take my fishing failures as a mark against the lake. I may be an avid fisherman, but that does not make me a good fisherman!
I plan to continue my winter visits to see the cranes. There have been few places in this nation that I have seen that could compare to the site of these beautiful birds lounging and singing. They are breathtaking and well worth the visit themselves.
I would encourage you to go and to enjoy this fine park. Just please respect it.
Visit my other reviews of parks and fishing spots!
DeSoto Bend, NE/IA
Memphis State, NE
Wilson Island, IA
Crystal Lake, NE
Summit Lake, NE