Snowy Owl at Marion Reservoir
Fishing for Flathead Catfish at Marion Reservoir.
Kids learning to canoe
Bald Eagle at Marion Reservoir
Turkey hunter at Marion Reservoir
Group of Bald Eagles at Marion Reservoir
Screech Owl at Marion Reservoir

Marion Reservoir Recreation

Fishing and Hunting

Marion Reservoir offers excellent opportunities for fishing and hunting. Sport fish in the lake include walleye, white bass, wiper, crappie, largemouth bass, channel, and flathead catfish. There is an 18-inch length limit for walleye and largemouth bass.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks is operating approximately 4,100 acres of the project lands located in the upper reaches of the lake for wildlife management and public hunting.

Portions of game management areas open to public hunting are fenced and are clearly marked with “Public Hunting” signs. Numerous gravel and dirt township and county roads provide access to the areas. All major roads entering game management areas are marked with large brown signs stating “Game Management Area.”

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks urges all sportsmen to respect posted signs on the areas and requests them not to trespass on private adjoining property. In several instances, the area boundary line is near private dwellings. These areas are posted with “Safety Zone-No Shooting Signs.” No hunting is permitted in developed recreational areas on the lake or in the vicinity of the dam and other project structures.

Principal game species include bobwhite quail, ducks, geese, mourning dove, cottontail rabbits, and numbers of deer, pheasant, squirrel and turkey.

Camping and Picnicking

Access roads lead into four park areas on the lake and the spillway area below the dam. The park areas offer picnicking and camping sites, swim beaches, boat launching ramps, water hydrants, sanitary facilities, fireplaces, and group shelters.

Camping and picnicking opportunities are numerous with 171 campsites located in four parks - Cottonwood Point, Hillsboro Cove, Marion Cove, and French Creek Cove.  Campsites contain picnic tables, grills and/or fire-rings, utility tables, sun-shelters and gravel parking pads. 

Facilities at our class "A" parks, Cottonwood Point and Hillsboro Cove, include electrical hookups, showers, RV dump stations, group camping areas, group picnic areas, playgrounds, and beaches. Cottonwood Point includes some sites with 50-amp electrical service and individual water hookups. Hillsboro Cove includes some sites with 30 amp electrical service and individual water hookups.


Boaters will find boat ramps located around the lake at Cottonwood Point (2 ramps, 4 lanes), Hillsboro Cove, Marion Cove (2 lanes), French Creek, Durham Cove and Broken Bridge. Developed ramps provide lights and courtesy docks. There is a fee to use these ramps. The undeveloped ramps at Durham Cove and Broken Bridge are free.

Boating on the lake is in accordance to Kansas boating laws and Corps of Engineers’ regulations. Operate your boat in a controlled, safe manner at all times. Fees are collected at the boat ramps.


The picturesque setting of Marion Reservoir is an open invitation to the visitor for picnicking, camping, hiking, and sightseeing.

For nature lovers, there are many native trees, wildflowers, and flowering shrubs including ash, elm, cottonwood, hackberry, sycamore, willow, oak, red cedar, catalpa, Osage orange, redbud, and sumac. Also, there are many species of birds native to the project area for birdwatchers to enjoy.


Marion Reservoir offers plenty of areas to swim to escape the heat of summer when lake conditions allow it. There are two official swim beaches on the project, one being in Cottonwood Point Park and the other being on the north side of the dam near the project office. The lake has a couple of natural beaches that visitors can enjoy as well. They can be found underneath the Overlook on the south side of the dam, and the other is located at Hillsboro Cove Park.  Life jackets are provided for use at the Cottonwood Point beach and the beach located on the north end of the dam. 


A special treat for wildlife observers is the one-mile Willow Walk Nature Trail located at Cottonwood Point.  Willow Walk Trail winds its way through Cottonwood Point Park. Along this trail, tame grass pastures are giving way to returning native grasses. Waterfowl feed where buffalo once grazed. Former grassy hillsides are now a wooded corridor beside the lake. Extreme seasons, violent weather, changing land use, and an evolving shoreline have combined to make the Willow Walk Trail an ever changing trek.