Buckskin Hills Lake, Nebraska, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Nebraska - Lewis and Clark -

Also known as:  Buckskin Hills Reservoir and Buckskin Hills Wildlife Management Area

Buckskin Hills Lake is a small prairie lake of about 75 acres located in northeastern Nebraska’s Dixon County. Lying four miles southwest of the town of Newcastle, Buckskin Hills is easily accessible from Sioux City, Iowa, 30 miles to the southeast and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 60 miles north. To find the lake hidden among the gently rolling hills: turn south off of Highway 12 onto gravel road 581 until you reach east/west road 883. Then turn east and follow 883 to the first gravel drive that heads north.

As part of the Nebraska’s Lewis and Clark Region, the area around Buckskin Hills Lake holds the stories of America’s past. As early as 1100 to 1450 A.D. prehistoric people hunted and farmed this fertile land. Their archeological evidence can be seen at Indian Hill Archeological District just outside of Newcastle. Prior to the settlement of Nebraska territory, people of the Omaha, Ponca, Santee Sioux and Winnebago Nations called these hills home. Lewis and Clark stopped in this area on their trips along the Missouri River in 1804 and again on their return trip in 1806. By the mid-1800s settlers were beginning to call Dixon County home.

Owned by the Lewis and Clark Natural Resource District, and leased and managed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Buckskin Hills Lake serves as a flood-control reservoir. Designated as a Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Buckskin Hills Reservoir and pasture land provide access to fish, wildlife and hiking trails within its 340 acres. Amenities around Buckskin Hills Lake are few. Primitive restrooms are available and primitive camping is permitted.

The gravel road leading to Buckskin Hills Reservoir ends near a concrete boat ramp, small dock and large graveled parking area. Visitors report that this beautiful lake has very good fishing. Species that thrive in the shallow waters of Buckskin Hills Lake are blue gills, carp and largemouth bass. In fact the Nebraska record for grass carp was set at Buckskin Hills Lake in 2007 at 62 lbs., 1 oz. According to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, there is a 5 mph speed limit on the lake.

Canoers and kayakers will enjoy gliding through the peaceful water of Buckskin Hills Lake or paddling up scenic Aowa Creek. Allowing time for photography of beaver, deer or migratory birds, a leisurely trip around the one-mile shoreline takes about two hours.

An 8- to 10-mile trail makes its way through the 265 acres of windswept grasslands and woods surrounding Buckskin Hills Lake. The peaceful trails attract horseback riders, hikers, birders and wildlife watchers alike.

Hunting pheasant, quail, rabbit and waterfowl is permitted within Buckskin Hills Wildlife Management Area. Target shooting is prohibited. Hunting permits and the Nebraska Hunting Guide are available from Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Within easy driving distance of Buckskin Hills Lake, nature and adventure lovers will find scenic byways, state parks and lakeside retreats waiting to be explored. Ten miles to the east, Ponca State Park provides access to the Missouri National Recreation River. Part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, this stretch of the Missouri River is one of two locations where the river looks much as it did before flood-control projects altered the river’s flow. Bald Eagles attract bird watchers to the park in the winter. Migratory birds that appear in warmer months include warblers, Scarlet Tanagers, Northern Orioles, Red-breasted Grosbeaks, Indigo Buntings and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Wildlife living along the river’s wooded banks include: white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, coyotes, red and gray fox, bobcats, raccoons, beaver, mink and opossums.

Straddling the border of Nebraska and South Dakota, Lewis and Clark Lake and surrounding state recreation areas are a short 35-mile drive northwest of Buckskin Hills Lake. These family-friendly destinations offer complete amenities with cabins, campsites, marinas, boat ramps and picnic facilities. Continue a short drive to the west and stop at Niobrara State Park. Camp among the hills overlooking the Missouri and Niobrara Rivers or enjoy fishing, swimming, boating, rafting and horseback riding.

Buckskin Hills Reservoir is surrounded by Nebraska’s history. The legends and lore of northeast Nebraska come to life along the state’s 231-mile Outlaw Trail – Nebraska Highway 12 Scenic Byway. Community events, attractions and tours tell the story of Indians, explorers, pioneers and outlaws. While visiting the communities surrounding Buckskin Hills Lake, and nearby parks, you will find waterfront vacation rentals and real estate properties designed to make your stay complete. Whether you end your day in a blissfully remote cabin or stroll through the shops of riverside communities, Buckskin Hills Lake and northeast Nebraska will welcome you.

Things to do at Buckskin Hills Lake

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park

Fish species found at Buckskin Hills Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Carp
  • Grass Carp
  • Largemouth Bass

Buckskin Hills Lake Photo Gallery

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Buckskin Hills Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Lewis and Clark NRD, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Surface Area: 75 acres

Shoreline Length: 1 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,350 feet

Average Depth: 8 feet

Maximum Depth: 26 feet

Water Volume: 638 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1980

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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