Fishing and Hunting
Council Grove Lake is well known for providing excellent fishing opportunities. The lake is best known for channel catfish and crappie fishing, but also has good populations of flathead catfish, white bass, saugeye and wipers with a lesser population of black bass.
Fishermen should make themselves aware of all fishing requirements and regulations by visiting the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks website.
Tackle, licenses and bait are available at the Council Grove Marina and various businesses in the town of Council Grove. For more information on the marina, visit our link to the marina on our Other Recreation Links page. A fish cleaning station is located in Marina Cove.
Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the ice at Council Grove Lake.
Council Grove Lake has zebra mussels, so be sure to adhere to the principles of cleaning, draining, and drying your vessel, bilges, livewells, and bait containers to avoid the spread of this invasive species. More information is available at http://ksoutdoors.com/Fishing/Aquatic-Nuisance-Species
Council Grove Lake provides good hunting opportunities for white-tailed deer, turkey, waterfowl, quail, doves, rabbits and squirrels.
Nearly 2,000 acres of project lands are managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks as a Public Hunting Area. This land is located on the Neosho River and Munkers Creek arms of the lake. Lesser acreages of public hunting lands are managed by the Corps of Engineers outside the campgrounds and below the dam. Some areas near the dam are limited to archery, shotgun and primitive firearms. A hunting map is located elsewhere on this website. Non-toxic shot is required for waterfowl. Hunters are cautioned that trapping is allowed on the public hunting area.
Hunters should make themselves aware of all hunting requirements and regulations by visiting the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks website.
Camping and Picnicking
Council Grove Lake has a variety of scenic and comfortable campgrounds to fit your needs and activities.
All campsites include a concrete slab with a picnic table, utility table, grill and/or fire ring. Most sites have a sun shelter over the picnic table. Nearly all sites have a parking pad for RV use, but can be occupied by tent campers as well. A few sites lack a parking pad and are limited to tent campers.
The federal America the Beautiful discount cards for seniors and persons with disabilities are honored in our campgrounds.
Our three Class A campgrounds – Richey Cove, Santa Fe Trail and Canning Creek - offer the most amenities such as electrical and water hookups, flush toilets, showers, playgrounds, dump stations, boat ramps and wi-fi. Most electrical service is 30-amp, although some 50-amp electrical sites are available. It is recommended that these sites be reserved in advance. Nearly all sites have water hookups. Only a handful of sites have sewer hookups. The Class A parks have security gates which are closed nightly.
Approximately 2/3 of the campsites in the Class A parks are available to be reserved up to 6 months in advance through Recreation.gov at 1-877-444-6777, click on the Make a Camping Reservation link on this page to access their website.
Fees for walk-in (without reservations) campers in the Class A parks are collected by gate attendants at the campground entrances. Fees range from $14-$25 dollars per night depending on campsite location and amenities.
The Class A parks also offer group camping areas which may be reserved in advance through Recreation.gov. All group camping areas offer a central covered picnic pavilion with tables, water, electricity, a fire ring and a large grill. Capacities range from 8 to 20 units, and fees range from $80 to $200 per night.
Richey Cove has direct access off Highway 177. The address is 1268 Highway 177, Council Grove, Kansas. The GPS coordinates are N38 42.050’, W96 29.847’. It has an abundance of shoreline sites, an “island” available for camping, and the only designated swimming area on the lake. Camping fees are collected at Canning Creek or Santa Fe Trail.
Canning Creek Cove is the largest and most expansive park. The address is 1130 Lake Road, Council Grove, Kansas. The GPS coordinates are N38 41.539’, W 96 32.237’. It is noted for its three group camping areas, two of which offer full hookups (50-amp electric, water and sewer) for 16 and 20 camping units respectively. Gate attendants at Canning Creek Cove may be reached by calling (620) 767-6745.
Santa Fe Trail is noted for its scenic timbered shoreline and its proximity to the Council Grove Marina. The address is 1026 Lake Road, Council Grove, Kansas. The GPS coordinates are N38 40.897’, W96 31.489’. Gate attendants at Santa Fe Trail may be reached by calling (620) 767-7125.
Council Grove Lake has five additional Class C Parks – Kit Carson, Marina Cove, Neosho Park, Kanza View and North Richey. For the most part, these parks lack shower buildings, dump stations and the amenities of the Class A parks. Fees range from $10-$18 per night. None of the campsites in the Class C Parks can be reserved in advance.
Marina Cove is located next to Santa Fe Trail campground and is operated by Council Grove Marina. The only fish cleaning station on the lake is located in Marina Cove.
Neosho Park is located closest to the Corps of Engineers Office. It offers 30-amp electrical service and one campsite with individual water hookup. The boat ramp is one of the busiest on the lake. Bathroom facilities are masonry vault toilets. The fees are collected at Santa Fe Trail.
Kanza View is located at the east end of the dam. It is located on a bluff and affords some of the more scenic views of the lake. There is no electricity and no individual water hookup. Camping is available for tents only. The bathroom facility is a masonry vault toilet. There is no boat ramp. Fees are collected at Canning Creek or Santa Fe Trail. There is a full 18-hole disc golf course located within the park.
KIt Carson is the most developed Class C park with 30-amp electrical service, water hookups and a shower building. Kit Carson may be accessed directly from Highway 177. The fees are collected at Canning Creek and Santa Fe Trail.
North Richey lacks electricity and individual water hookups. The bathroom facilities are wood vault toilets. Like Kanza View, it has an attractive setting located on a bluff. Camping is available for tents only. The park has direct access from Highway 177. The fees are collected at Canning Creek and Santa Fe Trail.
Unoccupied campsites may be used for picnicking as long as there is not an incoming camping reservation (check the campsite marker). Picnicking is free of charge. In the interest of cleanliness, large groups may be asked to provide legal identification (driver’s license) from one responsible person. Picnickers must leave the parks before 10:00 p.m.
Council Grove Lake also has three picnic pavilions which may be reserved in advance. Two are located at Canning Creek Cove and one at Kanza View. Capacity is limited to either 40 or 50 people. Fees are $20 per day. Users must depart at 10:00 p.m.
- Individual campsites are limited to 1 RV and 1 tent. In the absence of an RV, two tents are allowed. People capacity is 8 per site.
- All pets must be on leashes.
- Only tagged vehicles may be operated on park roads.
- Quiet hours are from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
- Vehicles must be parked on paved or gravel parking pads.
- Discharge of grey water is prohibited.
- Kegs and party balls are prohibited.
Whether your preferred water sport is pleasure boating, skiing, tubing, personal watercraft, or sailing, Council Grove Lake has over 3,000 acres of water to accommodate you. There are a total of eight single-lane boat ramps located in Corps of Engineers campgrounds circling the main body of the lake. In addition, there are two single-lane ramps maintained by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks located in the Council Grove Wildlife Area, along Munkers Creek and the Neosho River. These two ramps are primarily used by fishermen.
Boating is in accordance with State and Federal Regulations.
Please note that buoyed ”No Wake” zones are found around each boat ramp, and a buoyed ”Boat Exclusion Zone” is found around the Richey Cove swimming area and the Outlet Tower.
Life jackets for children (required to be worn onboard by all children under age 13) may be checked out free-of-charge from the gatehouses at Canning Creek Cove and Santa Fe Trail.
Council Grove Lake has zebra mussels, so be sure to adhere to the principles of cleaning, draining, and drying your vessel to avoid the spread of this invasive species. More information is available at http://ksoutdoors.com/Fishing/Aquatic-Nuisance-Species
The north end of the Neosho River arm of the lake (north of Canning Creek campground) is very shallow. In this area, it is recommended that you reduce speed and use a depth finder. The north end of the Munkers Creek arm of the lake (north of Richey Cove campground) is also shallow and has an uncleared area of standing and fallen timber. These obstructions are not marked. In this area, it is recommended that you reduce to idle speed and use a depth finder. Lake-wide, floating logs (especially after a flood event) may present a boating hazard. Keep a sharp lookout!
There are many venues for sightseers at Council Grove Lake beginning about a mile away in the historic town of Council Grove. The National Historic District of Council Grove features more than 24 sites detailing Native American history, the Santa Fe Trail, and the early settlement of the community. These attractions include the Kaw Mission State Historic Site & Museum, Hermit’s Cave, the Hayes House, Custer Elm, Council Oak, Post Office Oak and Museum, the Madonna of the Trail and Guardian of the Grove Statues to name a few. More information can be found at www.councilgrove.com
Council Grove is a northern starting point for the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway which follows Highway 177 for 48 miles to its southern terminus at Cassoday, KS. This byway travels through vast expanses of rolling, grass covered hills, some of the best of the last remnants of the Tallgrass Prairie Ecosystem in North America. Along this scenic drive are a number of points of interest including The Cassoday Museum, the Chase County Courthouse, and the Roniger Native American Museum. For more information about the Kansas Flint Hills Scenic Byway visit www.councilgrove.com
The feature point of the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway is the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, a component of the National Park Service. This is located along Highway 177 about 16 miles south of Council Grove. The preserve showcases the native tallgrass prairie as well as turn-of-the century ranching practices. A feature of the preserve is the 11 room Second Empire style ranch house built in 1881 from hand-cut limestone. The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve also offers a visitor/interpretive center, ranch house tours, bus tours of the prairie, group tours, as well as front country and back country trails. For information visit www.nps.gov/tapr
A shorter, but equally scenic drive is the Mill Creek Scenic Drive which begins in Alta Vista, Kansas, (about 14 miles north of our lake) and extends to the community of Alma, Kansas (another 20 miles to the northeast).
Campers may swim at their campsites if they choose. However, the only designated swimming area on the lake is located at Richey Cove Campground. This swimming area is surrounded by a floating boat exclusion pipe and marked by boat exclusion buoys. Life jackets for children may be borrowed while using the swimming area from a loaner board located on the beach.
Pets and glass bottles are not allowed on the beach or in the swimming area. Children younger than age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Keep a close eye on your children – there are no lifeguards. The swimming area may be used from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.
Day Use fees for the swim beach have been temporarily suspended.
Council Grove Lake has zebra mussels which have very sharp edges on their shells. It is recommended that footwear be worn while swimming and wading.
Council Grove Lake is located in the Flint Hills region of Kansas. This region is dominated by the tallgrass prairie ecosystem, which is one of the most endangered ecosystems in North America. Nationally, only about three percent of the tallgrass prairie remains, and the majority is located in the Flint Hills of Kansas.
Our lakeshore is wooded with trees which would be found along the rivers and streams of the Flint Hills including cottonwoods, willows, sycamores, hickories, oaks, walnut, elm, locust and ash.
A noted feature of our lake is the Pioneer Nature Trail which is a component of the National Recreation Trails system. The trailhead and parking area are just west of the Corps of Engineers Lake Office. The trail is 1.24 miles in length with a width of six feet and is moderate in difficulty. The surface is grass and native vegetation. The trail, built in 1981, is mostly upland woodlands, but the Buffalo Wallow loop is located on the tallgrass prairie that is home to many different wildflowers and native grasses. This loop also contains remnants of wallows that were created by the bison that once roamed this area. Several interpretive signs are found along the trail. For more information, go to the website:
Much shorter and unimproved walking trails link Richey Cove and Kit Carson Campgrounds on the east side of the lake, and group shelter 1 to the gatehouse at Canning Creek Cove campground on the west side of the lake.
Other trails in the area are located at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, a component of the National Park Service, which is located about 16 miles south of the lake. For more information, go to www.nps.gov/tapr