Melvern Lake, Kansas, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Kansas - Southeast -

Also known as:  Melvern Resevoir

Melvern Lake is the perfect spot in dry southeast Kansas to enjoy a week at the lake. Built in 1972 as a flood control reservoir, Melvern Lake now offers a wealth of outdoor fun to all comers. Since the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) first opened the lake to the public in 1975, six campgrounds, a marina, several boat ramps and three swimming beaches offer all of the lakefront fun anyone could want. Five of the campgrounds are operated by the USACE. The sixth has become Eisenhower State Park. A variety of trails for hiking, horseback riding and cycling provide plenty of opportunity to enjoy the fresh air.

Located about 30 miles east of Emporia, Melvern Lake is within easy driving distance of both Topeka-40 miles-and Kansas City-85 miles. This makes the lake very popular with weekend visitors who enjoy the beaches and fishing piers for a small day-use fee. Increasingly, the lake and its environs have become popular places to bring a mountain bike and a camera, as the wetlands created along the lower Marais Des Cygnes River offer great habitat for waterfowl and water-loving mammals. Adjacent to the Eisenhower State Park on the north shore, the Melvern Wildlife Area provides additional protected habitat and is never open to hunting, as opposed to much of the surrounding public land. USACE has done an excellent job of providing comfort and enjoyment to all users, including visiting wildlife.

The reservoir covers 6,930 acres at normal water levels. The irregular 100 miles of shoreline surround multiple coves and arms with a variety of depths and habitat. There is plenty of room for water skiing, tubing, power boating, canoeing, pontooning and kayaking while still leaving quiet water for sailboats and anglers. A concession marina is located near Coeur d’ Alene Park on the south shore near the dam. Here, boaters will find boat gas, repairs, dock space, including seasonal rental slips, deli sandwiches and drinks, bait and the usual camp supplies. Other boat ramps in other parks are suitable for smaller boats. Campers can bring their own boats to launch at boat ramps near their campsites and fish to their heart’s content.

A variety of fish are found in Melvern Lake’s waters: channel catfish, flathead catfish, bluegill, crappie, blue catfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, sauger, striped bass, spotted bass, walleye and sunfish are all available for the catching. Creel limits are posted so as to keep a balanced aquatic ecosystem. Anglers are warned to carefully clean their boats when leaving Melvern Lake as zebra mussels are known to have invaded the reservoir. The marina even has an indoor, heated fishing dock available to aid the less active anglers in enjoying their favorite sport year-round. A Kansas fishing license is required.

All six of the campgrounds have campsites with a wide variety of amenities. Some offer more electrified sites than others, and there are usually tent pads available. Most of the campgrounds have shower buildings, RV dumps and fish cleaning stations, along with picnic facilities and playgrounds. Sundance campground has only non-electric sites. Outlet Park, below the dam, is popular with day users. A 90-acre, catch-and-release fishing lake does not allow gas motors, and a 27-acre swimming-only lake is one of the best places to swim. A variety of ball fields and three miles of hiking/bicycling trails are located here. Eisenhower State Park has an interpretive nature trail, and the 22-mile horseback trail along the south shore begins at the park. During the summer, Eisenhower Park offers educational and entertainment programs along with a Junior Naturalist Program. Of note to cyclists, the Five-Star Bike Trail, also known as ‘Ike’s Trail’ wanders five miles from the park through trees, ravines and prairie.

The nearby city of Emporia offers a variety of lodgings choices, including several hotels, a few small motels and a bed & breakfast. An 18-hole municipal golf course is located south of the city, and the Jones Aquatic Center offers water slides and a small water park. From fast food to home cooking, Emporia holds a number of restaurants, bakeries and pizza shops. The city even supports a small zoo. Other vacation rentals are available in the area.

Not much farther from Melvern Lake, Topeka holds a number of interesting activities. The Kansas Expo Center offers a variety of special events throughout the year, including such things as wrestling tournaments, concerts, farm shows and hockey games. The Holley Museum of Military History offers several interesting exhibits for military history buffs, as does the Museum of the Kansas National Guard and the Combat Air Museum. The Great Overland Station showcases an elegant, restored station of the famed Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway with plenty of history and hands-on activities for children. Mulvane Art Museum on the campus of Washburn University has a good selection of art exhibits. The Topeka Performing Arts Center hosts a wide variety of shows, plays and concerts. It even hosts school plays, all in a beautiful setting.

Those wishing to visit Melvern Lake need to select their favored type of lodgings and plan to enjoy a great time outdoors. Bring the mountain bike, the hiking boots and, of course, the swimsuits. Fishermen will want to make sure they have the appropriate fishing license. If they forget anything, the marina or the camp store likely sells it right at the lake. Come prepared to enjoy the woods, the water and the serenity of this sprawling reservoir. It will soon become a favorite for long summer weekends or a longer out-of-doors vacation.

Things to do at Melvern Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • Museum
  • Playground

Fish species found at Melvern Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Blue Catfish
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Sauger
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Spotted Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

Melvern Lake Photo Gallery

Melvern Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

divider

Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 6,930 acres

Shoreline Length: 101 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,036 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,036 feet

Maximum Depth: 74 feet

Water Volume: 151,256 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1972

Drainage Area: 349 sq. miles

At LakeLubbers.com, we strive to keep our information as accurate and up-to-date as possible, but if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you!
Please let us know about it on our Content Correction form.

Spread the word! Share our Melvern Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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."


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.