Council Bluff Lake, Missouri, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Council Bluff Lake.

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Council Bluff Lake visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Midwest - Missouri - Southeast -

Settled snugly along the eastern edge of the Mark Twain National Forest in southern Missouri, Council Bluff Lake pulls outdoorsy individuals to its quiet shores. Mountain bikers and trail runners pound the dirt-laden trails surrounding the lake, while anglers grapple with large fish beneath the water. If escapism is what you’re after, this 440-acre body of water can provide that and more.

Due to Council Bluff Lake’s location within the national forest, visitors find themselves among pine trees, wildlife and the open sky for company. The lake is set in Iron County, which is located in Missouri’s Southeast Tourism region. The lake’s clear waters make it a hotspot for swimming and snorkeling. The Chapel Hill Beach is open from May through September, where a sandy beach offers children a place to swim and build castles.

Picnic areas are scattered around the lake, as are a variety of campgrounds. Bring out the RV for a comfortable stay near the lake, or pack a few tents and rough it under the stars. A 13-mile long loop trail, moderate in difficulty, surrounds the lake and is made for hikers and mountain bikers looking to work up a sweat. A quick splash into the lake afterwards rounds out a perfectly peaceful day.

Council Bluff Lake is a no wake lake, which means peace and quiet reign in this remote area. Anglers setting out during the spring and early summer will find an abundant number of redear sunfish in the lake, measuring upwards of 12 inches. Channel catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie also swim in the deeper parts of the lake.

Boat launches are located on the north and south end of Council Bluff Lake, where canoes and paddle boats can be rented for the day. Paddle out with a picnic lunch and a book and explore secretive spots among the lake’s many fingers. During certain times of the year, the lake is a hotspot for wildfowl hunters, too.

If anyone is interested in searching other portions of Mark Twain National Forest, they have 1.5 million acres to explore. Streams, rivers and natural springs pop up in certain areas, while caves and ancient volcanic mountains dot the rest of the forest. Birders will find road runners, songbirds, turkeys and painted buntings within the only national forest in Missouri. Others looking to spot wildlife will have to be quiet — with a little bit of luck — to see a black bear or two rustling among the leaves.

The nearby village of Caledonia, which is only 20 minutes from Council Bluff Lake, will put you back into civilization — though it may seem as if you’re looking back in time 100 years ago. Caledonia prides itself with keeping an old-fashioned and quaint feel to the town. Take a leisurely walk down the street and settle your eyes on over 30 homes that are on the National Historic Register. The downtown area offers an ice cream parlor along with shops where you’ll discover antique birdhouses and other unique finds.

Whether you’re simply looking to escape from the normal hubbub of life or looking to settle down in this rural portion of Missouri, Council Bluff Lake sits in serenity. Real estate opportunities are available in communities surrounding this pristine, remote lake. Take a chance and grab a piece of peacefulness at Council Bluff Lake for your next vacation.

Custom Council Bluff Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Council Bluff Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Snorkeling
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Forest
  • Antiquing

Fish species found at Council Bluff Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)
  • Sunfish

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Council Bluff Lake

The Council Bluff Lake map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

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Council Bluff Lake photo gallery

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Council Bluff Lake statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: U.S. Forest Service

Surface Area: 440 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,089 feet

Completion Year: 1981

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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