Willow Creek State Recreation Area

Located 1 ½ miles southwest of Pierce, scenic Willow Creek State Recreation Area draws its name from the meandering stream that feeds the Elkhorn River in Northeast Nebraska. The 1,633-acre area includes a 700-acre flood control reservoir with excellent fishing opportunities. The area also boasts picnicking, camping, boating and an 8-mile limestone hike/bike trail.

Beginning in 1982, the $5.2 million reservoir project was built by the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District with cost-sharing by the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission.


Picnickers will find shelters along with an ample supply of tables and fire grates. A 3-mile hiking and horseback trail winds through the area. Park roads may also be used by horseback riders. Come winter, roads and the lake surface (ice permitting) are open to snowmobiling.  There is a designated swimming beach, but swimming is unsupervised.


All camping is first-come, first-served, and stays are limited to 14 days. There are 100 pads with 64 electrical hookups. The modern shower house has laundry facilities and there is a dump station. Fees are charged for camping, with an additional cost for electricity. Campers are asked to self-register on arrival and deposit the appropriate fee in the drop box. Drinking water and vault toilets are available at the campground.

Boating and fishing

The main body of the lake is open to all boating and water skiing while the wooded west end is restricted to 5 mph, no-wake boating. Anglers will find crappie, bluegill, bass, catfish, walleye, northern pike, tiger musky and bullheads. The deepest point of the lake measures 35 feet in depth.

Wildlife and Hunting

Parts of the area are open to hunting, in season, beginning the first Tuesday after Labor Day. Species available include: pleasant, quail, mourning dove, rabbit, squirrel and a variety of waterfowl. Deer hunting is allowed, but is restricted to archery, muzzleloader or shotgun slug only. Rifles and handguns may not be used in the area. There are also numerous bird species in the area for bird watchers.

General Information

A current Nebraska Park Entry Permit is required for all vehicles at Willow Creek. Permits and other goods and services are available in nearby Pierce or from any Nebraska hunting/fishing permit dealer. Pets are permitted but they must be kept on a leash. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited. Vehicles must remain on roadways. Click here for a printable map.

Nearby Recreation

To the north and east are Niobrara and Ponca State parks and Lewis and Clark Lake. These all have modern campgrounds, picnicking and other facilities. Cabin lodging is available at Niobrara and Ponca. both parks have swimming pools. About a half hour to the northwest is Grove Lake State Wildlife Area and Trout Rearing Station. One of the few trout streams in Northeast Nebraska crosses the area.

A few miles north and west of Grove Lake is Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park where visitors can watch ongoing excavations of prehistoric animals preserved under layers of volcanic ash deposited eons ago.


Click for Printable Map (PDF)

For more information contact the Willow Creek State Recreaton Area:

54876852 Rd
Pierce, NE 68767

Phone:  402-329-4053

to make a reservation for camping, go to the website below or contact the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission:


P.O. Box 30370
Lincoln, NE 68503-0370
Phone: 402-471-0641

Or call 1-800-826-PARK