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Camping with the Army (Corps of Engineers)

As more vacationers hit the road, campgrounds at national parks are getting more crowded. With that in mind, this may be the time to explore locations under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

USACE is the leading provider of water-based outdoor recreation in the nation, including more than 420 lakes and rivers in 44 states. For example, the Mississippi River Project, the oldest and one of the largest continually-managed forested resources managed by USACE, encompasses 314 miles on the Mississippi River from Potosi, WI, to Saverton, MO, and includes 16 campgrounds, 14 day-use facilities, 22 boat ramps, a visitor center and 55,000 acres of forested land for public use.

Whether you like land-based experiences such as hiking, wildlife viewing, camping, mountain biking, and geocaching and hunting, or are looking for activities on the water— boating, fishing, snorkeling, windsurfing, and whitewater rafting—there’s no shortage of things to do and see, thanks to the USACE!

The following list (with specific details from the individual USACE websites) showcases just some of the USACE-managed sites you can explore, with additional camping links available here.

For more information, click these links to download a brochure or a more detailed booklet. Go here for a map of USACE locations and here for recreation fee discount passes that USACE can issue, sell, or accept.

Note: Always check the status of USACE recreation area closures at locations you want to visit, since COVID-19 may impact access to facilities.

ALABAMA

Alabama River Lakes – (334) 682-4244. The Alabama River Lakes Project Office consists of Claiborne Lake, Woodruff Lake, and the William Dannelly Reservoir, and provides recreational opportunities including boating, fishing, camping, hunting, and sight-seeing.

Black Warrior and Tombigbee Lakes – (334) 289-3540. The Black Warrior-Tombigbee Project Office is home to six beautiful lakes and provides recreational opportunities including boating, fishing, camping, hunting, hiking, and sightseeing.

West Point Lake – (706) 645-2937. A man-made reservoir on the Chattahoochee River, West Point Lake is surrounded by deep forests and rolling fields with approximately 525 miles of shoreline. It features a wide variety of recreation activities including fishing, camping, boating, and other recreational activities.

ARKANSAS

Blue Mountain Lake – (479) 947-2372. Located in the shadow of Mt. Magazine, Arkansas’s highest mountain, Blue Mountain Lake offers boating, fishing, swimming, and water skiing, and is also the site of the Blue Mountain Wildlife Demonstration Area: a world-class bird dog field trial area. Modern campgrounds provide the tent and trailer spaces, electrical and water hookups, showers, boat launching ramps, parking areas, fish cleaning stations, and many other amenities.

Degray Lake – (870) 246-5501. DeGray Lake spans 208 miles of shoreline and 13,800 acres, with 20 recreation areas, 340 picnic sites, 724 campsites (Class A, C, and D), 18 boat ramps, and 12 swimming beaches.

Greeson Lake – (870) 285-2151. Lake Greeson is a 12-mile-long man-made lake surrounded by 15,842 acres of federally administered public lands. Activities hiking, hunting, boating, and swimming, with 408 campsites available at its 11 campgrounds with a variety of amenities.

Nimrod Lake – (479) 272-4324. The oldest Corps of Engineers lake in Arkansas, Nimrod Lake is known for fishing, water skiing, swimming, and boating, in-season hunting, and other outdoor activities as well as four modern campgrounds with trailer/tent spaces and one day-use area

CALIFORNIA

Black Butte Lake – (530) 865-4781. The seven-mile-long Black Butte Lake offers boating, fishing, and more than 20 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and nature trails. The two campgrounds provide drinking water, picnic tables, fire pits, launch ramps, trailer dump stations, and restroom facilities with showers, with group campsites available at both campgrounds and many able to accommodate recreational vehicles up to 35 feet in length.

Mendocino Lake – (707) 467-4200. Lake Mendocino offers a variety of outdoor activities: hiking, fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing. More than 300 campsites are located in four campgrounds, each with a fire ring, picnic table, and lantern hook. All four campgrounds have restroom facilities and three have useable running water.

Pine Flat Lake – (559) 787-2589. Pine Flat Lake provides recreation opportunities for hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, including boating, fishing, and hunting. It also has two campgrounds, with Island Park Campground offering an RV dump station and electricity at 25 of the campsites. Hot showers and flush toilets are available at both campgrounds. Blue Oak and Buckeye group sites, available at Deer Creek Point Group Campground, can accommodate multiple RVs and/or tents.

CONNECTICUT

West Thompson Lake – (860) 923-2982. West Thompson Lake offers hiking and hunting as well as boating and fishing on the 200-acre lake. Its 24 campsites offer a range of amenities, and the campground is suitable for all types of RV’s, with a handicap-accessible comfort station with flush toilets and hot showers, a dump station, and firewood are available.

FLORIDA

Lake Seminole – (229) 662-2001. Lake Seminole and its more than 22,000 acres of surrounding land provide excellent recreational opportunities for boating, hunting, and a world-class fishing experience. Lake Seminole has four campgrounds with amenities depending on the location.

GEORGIA

Allatoona Lake – (678) 721-6700. Allatoona Lake is one of the most frequently visited Corps of Engineers lakes in the nation with nearly 7 million visitors each year. Activities include fishing, hunting, biking, hiking, and boating, with eight campgrounds available, with all offering a wide range of campsites: double, group and primitive, along with premium campsites with electrical and water hookups.

Carters Lake – (706) 334-2248. One of the most scenic lakes in the southeast, Carters Lake has a surface area of 3,200 acres and 62 miles of shoreline and has a variety of recreational opportunities including picnicking, boating, fishing, and hunting. Five campgrounds are available, with a variety of amenities.

Lake Sidney Lanier – (770) 945-9531. Lake Sidney Lanier, in the foothills of the Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains, has 76 recreational areas, including 40 Corps-operated parks and campgrounds, 10 marinas, and Lake Lanier Islands, with remaining areas leased to local governments or other organizations. Activities available at the lake include picnicking, boating, swimming, hiking, and fishing, along with seven campgrounds including 430 campsites with water and electric hookups. 

ILLINOIS

Carlyle Lake – (618) 594-2484. Carlyle Lake has a diverse selection of recreational activities including swimming, boating, hiking, and geocaching, along with family-friendly activities. The four campgrounds have paved pads, electric hook-up, shower and laundry facilities, shade, and lakeside views.

Rend Lake – (618) 724-2493. Rend Lake has more than 21 miles of paved multi-use trails, six different water trails for kayaking and canoeing, 112 active geocaches, and two public swimming areas open from sunrise to sunset. Four campgrounds and the Dale Miller Youth Camp (within South Marcum Campground) for large groups are available for reservation, with a range of amenities.

IOWA

Coralville Lake – (319) 338-3543. Located between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, Coralville Lake offers activities such as boating, swimming, picnicking, hiking, mountain biking, disc golf, and birdwatching. It has three campgrounds with just over 500 campsites, ranging from primitive tents to full hook-ups with water, sewer, and electricity at the sites.

KANSAS

Big Hill Lake – (620) 336-2741. Big Hill Lake, considered a trophy fishing lake, also offers activities such as horseback riding, hiking, swimming, and wildlife viewing. Three campgrounds, both with and without utilities, are available, along with boat launching ramps, playgrounds, a ball field, and a swimming beach with a change house.

Elk City Lake – (620) 336-2741. Elk City Lake is a popular location for hunting and fishing as well as for boating, swimming, and skiing. It features three park areas with picnicking and camping sites (with and without electricity), sanitary facilities, showers, fireplaces, playgrounds, and group shelters.

KENTUCKY

Buckhorn Lake – (606) 398-7251. Buckhorn Lake and the surrounding area offer fishing, boating, swimming, and skiing, as well as hiking and hunting in Buckhorn Lake Wildlife Management Area and Daniel Boone National Forest. The location has 31 developed campsites and 18 overflow and primitive campsites, with a range of amenities available.

Green River Lake – (270) 465-4463. Green River Lake lies in the Highland Rim section and offers fishing, boating, hunting, hiking, swimming, and wildlife viewing. Three campgrounds have a variety of sites to choose from, including waterfront, woodland, primitive, and developed (water and electricity), with another campground is operated by the Kentucky Department of Parks.

Lake Cumberland – (606) 679-6337. Lake Cumberland has a temperate climate and relatively long recreation season, giving visitors more chances to fish, hunt, camp, picnic, boat, canoe, hike, and enjoy the outdoors. Lake Cumberland also has five developed campgrounds and numerous primitive camping sites.

LOUISIANA

Bayou Bodcau Reservoir – (318) 322-6391. Bayou Bodcau Reservoir is a unique area in northwest Louisiana with outdoor activities including hunting, fishing, boating, hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Campgrounds range from being primitive with no campsite amenities to class A campsites with water and electric hook-ups.

MARYLAND

Jennings Randolph Lake – (304) 355-2346. Jennings Randolph Lake is known for unspoiled wilderness and natural beauty, with activities such as fishing, boating, swimming, and hiking. The 68-site campground has electrical service and other amenities.

Youghiogheny River Lake – (814) 395-3242. Youghiogheny River Lake offers opportunities for boating, hunting, fishing, along with cycling on the Youghiogheny River Hiking-Biking Trail South. Campers can choose from three campgrounds, with facilities ranging from modern to primitive.

MICHIGAN

Sandy Lake – (218) 426-3482. Sandy Lake offers boating, fishing, hiking, picnicking, interpretive programs and playground areas. The campground offers 50-amp electric campsites, a group camper cabin site, showers, and dump stations.

Winnibigosh Lake – (218) 426-3482. The 67,000-acre Winnibigosh Lake has 141 miles of shoreline, with visitors enjoying fishing (from boat and shore) boating, and picnicking. A majority of the campsites are available for reservation, with some having access to electricity. There is also a campsite and restroom accessible to those who are mobility impaired.

MISSISSIPPI

Enid Lake – (662) 563-4571. Enid Lake offers outdoor activities such as hiking, boating, swimming, picnicking, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing. Its 5 Class A campgrounds are some of the most modern camping facilities in the region and it’s been selected as one of America’s Top 100 Family Campgrounds twice by the National Recreation Reservation Service.

Okatibbee Lake – (601) 626-8431. Okatibbee Lake and surrounding forests provide a chance to enjoy boating, fishing, and hunting. The location has one full-service campground and four day-use parks with three designated swimming areas and four boat ramps.

MISSOURI

Clearwater Lake – (573) 223-7777. Clearwater Lake has boating, swimming, water skiing, picnicking, sightseeing, hunting, and fishing along with wildlife viewing. Five campgrounds offer a variety of services, with numerous facilities, including grills, fireplaces, tables, group shelters, showers, and water wells, located throughout the parks.

Mark Twain Lake – (573) 735-4097. Mark Twain Lake has activities such as boating, horseback riding, fishing, geocaching, hunting, and hiking. Campsites range from primitive, hike-in sites to developed sites with water, sewer, and electrical hook-ups.

Wappapello Lake – (573) 222-8562. Wappapello Lake offers hiking, hunting, boating, fishing, swimming, and horseback riding. Both traditional and primitive camping areas are available year-round and permitted up to fourteen days in a thirty consecutive day period at designated camping areas.

NEBRASKA

Lewis and Clark Lake – (402) 667-2546. Recreation opportunities abound at Lewis and Clark Lake: fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, boating, sailing, swimming, bird-watching, and photography. Developed public camping areas include campsites with electricity, modern restrooms, playground equipment, and trailer dump stations.

NEW MEXICO

Abiquiu Lake – (505) 685-4371. Recreation at Abiquiu Lake includes fishing, hiking, swimming, water sports, and wildlife viewing. Riana Campground has 54 campsites, with some including electric hookups and water hookups, shelters, grills, lantern holders, and tent pads. Other facilities include a play structure, showers, dump station, picnic, and fishing areas.

OHIO

North Branch Kokosing River Lake – (740) 824-4343. Recreation at North Branch Kokosing River Lake includes boating, swimming, fishing, hunting, and hiking. The 42-site Kokosing Lake Campground, leased by Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD), is designed for tent, trailer, and RV camping with all sites having electricity and water available at several locations within the campground and a dump station near the entrance to the campground.

Tappan Lake – (740) 269-2681. Tappan Lake offers boating, fishing, hiking, and hunting. More than 500 campsites (class A full hookups and Class A with electric), 10 vacation cabins, also primitive and Group Campsites are available through MWCD @ (330) 343-6647 or visit their website @ www.mwcdlakes.com.

OKLAHOMA

Canton Lake – (580) 886-2989. Canton Lake is ideal for outdoor recreation activities: swimming, water-skiing, boating, hunting, and fishing. The location has more than 240 campsites, including some with 50-amp electric service and water hookups. 

Hugo Lake – (580) 326-3345. Hugo Lake has miles of paved roads that are ideal for cycling, jogging, hiking or horseback riding, while its 8,000 acres of open water are ideal for skiers and boaters. The Group Camp Area has four sites with a combination of waterborne shower and toilet building and swimming beach access. Each site has camping facilities that include a 30’ x 50’ shelter and five electric/water hook-ups.

PENNSYLVANIA

Cowanesque Lake – (570) 835-5281. Cowanesque Lake has recreation for everybody: boating, fishing, hunting, water-skiing, and hiking. The Tompkins Recreation Area and Campground has 83 campsites, 16 hike-in sites, 24-site primitive camping, and a boat launch and beach for camper use.

Loyalhanna Lake – (724) 639-9013. Loyalhanna Lake offers activities both on the water and around the water. Fishing, boating hiking, and biking are just a few of the options. The 44-site campground includes 12 with water and electricity hookups and is equipped for larger RVs. All sites have adequate tent space, a picnic table, lantern holder, and fire ring, with the campground providing restroom facilities, showers, a playground, a volleyball court, and a sanitary dump station.

TENNESSEE

Cheatham Lake – (615) 792-5697. Cheatham Lake offers visitors numerous activities, including fishing, hunting, picnicking, boating, canoeing, hiking, and others. Two campgrounds are available: Lock A and Harpeth River Bridge, with camping, allowed only in these designated areas.

Cordell Hull Lake – (615) 735-1034. Visitors to Cordell Hull Lake can enjoy fishing, hunting, picnicking, boating, hiking, and horseback riding. Two campgrounds— Defeated Creek and Salt Lick Creek—are available for RV use, with both having dump stations.

Old Hickory Lake – (615) 822-4846. Old Hickory Lake is the ideal location to enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking, picnicking, boating, water skiing, and wildlife watching. Two campgrounds— Cages Bend and Cedar Creek—are available for RV use, with both having dump stations.

TEXAS

Bardwell Lake – (972) 875-5711. Bardwell Lake encompasses five parks offering a range of activities, including fishing, hiking, boating, hunting, and swimming. Camping is permitted but only at designated sites, and includes RVs, travel trailers, and other types of campers.

Lake O’ The Pines – (903) 665-2336. In addition to hunting, Lake O’ The Pines has some of the best fishing, camping, and boating in Texas. Many opportunities for camping are available, from four Class “A” campgrounds—Alley Creek, Brushy Creek, Buckhorn Creek, and Johnson Creek Parks— to undeveloped tent camping

Wright Patman Lake – (903) 838-8781. Located near Texarkana, Wright Patman Lake offers fishing, hunting, boating, and hiking as well as campground options from developed camping with utilities to undeveloped tent camping.

VERMONT

Ball Mountain Lake – (802) 874-4881. Ball Mountain Lake offers a variety of activities, from panoramic views of the mountains for photographers to hunting and fishing, and in the winter months, country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Winhall Brook Camping Area has 111 campsites, including 14 lean-to camping shelters and 23 with electric and water hookups. Other amenities include a dump station, restrooms, firewood, and hot showers.

VIRGINIA

John H. Kerr Dam and Reservoir – (434) 738-6633. John H. Kerr Dam and Reservoir provides opportunities to boat, fish, swim, picnic, hike, and hunt. USACE operates four campgrounds at the location, with another seven managed by North Carolina State Parks and two by the Virginia State Parks, with all providing tent and trailer camping at both primitive and water/electric sites with boat ramps, bath facilities, beaches, playgrounds, and hiking trails.

John W. Flannagan Dam and Reservoir – (276) 835-9544. John W. Flannagan Dam and Reservoir offers visitors outdoor activities such as biking, boating, and fishing to hunting and fishing. The three campgrounds combined have a total of 93 sites, with all sites except the “Tent Only” sites with electrical hook-ups. Water tank filling and sewage dump stations are available at all campgrounds.

Philpott Lake – (276) 629-2703. Outdoor activities at Philpott Lake include fishing, boating, swimming and hunting. Four park areas have campgrounds with water and electric hook-ups, and hot showers, while the primitive campground on Deer Island is accessible only by water.

WEST VIRGINIA

Burnsville Lake – (304) 853-2371. Recreational activities at Burnsville Lake include biking, boating, fishing, hunting, and hiking. Two campgrounds—Riffle Run and Bulltown—offer a variety of amenities, with both offering dump stations and freshwater fill-up stations.

East Lynn Lake – (304) 849-2355. Outdoor activities at East Lynn Lake include biking, boating, fishing, hiking, and hunting. All campsites at the East Fork Campground have electrical hookups, with a sanitary dump station and restrooms with showers among the amenities available.

R.D. Bailey Lake – (304) 664-3229. The first concrete-faced dam built by the Corps of Engineers, R.D. Bailey offers a range of recreational options including biking, boating, fishing, hiking, and hunting. The campground is divided into two segments, with each having restrooms/showers, playgrounds, and nearby trailer dump stations. All sites have electrical hookups and have recently been upgraded to 50 amp service.

WISCONSIN

Eau Galle Lake – (715) 778-5562. Eau Galle Reservoir is a 150-acre impoundment surrounded by two day-use areas, a beach, two boat launches, and several miles of hiking and equestrian trails. Fishing from shore or boat is a popular activity, but boats are restricted to non-gasoline powered ones. The campground has electric, non-electric and walk-in tent campsites.

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