Smithville Lake, Missouri, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Smithville Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

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Looking for Smithville Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Smithville Lake

Smithville Lake, located in the City of Smithville in northwest Missouri, is a recreational wonderland. With nearly 7,200 surface acres of water, Smithville Lake entices nature lovers to come out and play. The purpose of Smithville Lake is to provide flood reduction, water supply, fish and wildlife management, and recreation. Outdoor sports include fishing, hunting, swimming, bird watching, boating and camping.

In 1965, the town of Smithville was covered with 12 feet of water due to the flooding of the Little Platte River. To prevent future flooding, the US Army Corps of Engineers constructed a dam on the Little Platte River forming Smithville Lake. Today the Corps manages the dam and wildlife management land, now known as the Smithville Lake Project. The Smithville Dam is an earthen dam that stretches 4,000 feet long and reaches 90 feet above the streambed.

Although the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the dam and wildlife areas, the Clay County Parks Department and the City of Smithville operate the campsites located around Smithville Lake. Crows Creek and Camp Branch Campground are run by Clay County Parks Department, while Smith’s Fork Campground is run by the City of Smithville. Campers of all types will enjoy the amenities offered at the campgrounds. Electric and non-electric campsites are available and also include restrooms, dump stations, and hot showers. The campgrounds offer hundreds of picnic sites and numerous shelter houses where visitors can take pleasure in a picnic lunch or enjoy a group get-together. After campers pitch their tents or park their RVs, they may take a dip in the refreshing waters at one of two swimming areas, the Little Platte Park and Camp Branch Park.

Visitors to Smithville Lake may want to bring along their bike, horse, or a pair of hiking boots to partake in many miles of multi-use trails that meander around the lake. Lake views from the trails are spectacular. The multi-use trails are completely paved, while the horseback riding trails are unpaved. Mountain biking and hiking are permitted on the horseback riding trails, although the terrain can be a bit rough.

Smithville Lake is an angler’s paradise with many fish waiting to be caught. Since Smithville Lake was created, the waters have been stocked with channel catfish, blue catfish, flathead catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill, walleye, and tiger muskie. Crappies can also be found in Smithville Lake but have not been stocked. Fish enthusiasts from all over exhibit their fishing skills in one of the many bass tournaments held yearly on Smithville Lake. Anglers are not the only ones who flock to Smithville Lake; hunters have over 7,000 acres available to hunt in the Smithville Wildlife Management Area and Honker Cove Waterfowl Refuge. Honker Cove is closed during designated times of the year. Wildlife viewers, nature lovers, and photographers will also take pleasure in visiting Honker Cove Waterfowl Refuge when it is open to the public. Ducks, shorebirds, geese, and eagles are commonly spotted by those who walk along the refuge.

The Smithville area was once inhabited by a Missouri Tribe of Native Americans, but its most famous citizens were the James Gang led by Frank and Jessie James. The home of Jessie James is located near Kearney, Missouri and is still open to the public for viewing. Although the notorious outlaws have been gone for some time, visitors who fall in love with Smithville Lake area can purchase a home of their own. Real estate owners have the benefit of Smithville Lake within an easy drive. Smithville Lake is a great vacation destination or weekend getaway. Families and friends can camp together while having a relaxing time along the shores of beautiful Smithville Lake.

Things to Do at Smithville Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish Species Found at Smithville Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Blue Catfish
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sunfish
  • Tiger Muskellunge
  • Walleye

Find Places to Stay at Smithville Lake

If you’re considering a Smithville Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Smithville Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Smithville Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Smithville Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: US Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 7,190 acres

Shoreline Length: 175 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 864 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 876 feet

Water Volume: 102,200 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1979

Drainage Area: 213 sq. miles

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

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