15 Beautiful Lakes Near Omaha for Nature Lovers

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Daniel is a copywriter who has well and truly been bitten alive by the 'travel bug'. After ticking off several North American National Parks and exploring Europe by train, his sights are now set on South East Asia. Usually with at least one camera locked and loaded, you'll find Daniel wherever there are mountains, lakes or beaches.

If you’re a nature enthusiast searching for tranquil lakes near Omaha, you’re in luck! We’ve put together a list of the most beautiful lakes around “The Gateway to the West,” each uniquely beautiful and brimming with outdoor activities.

From serene picnic spots to exciting water sports, there’s something for every nature lover around Omaha!

Lake Manawa

Enemy Swim Lake
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On the edge of Omaha, the 785-acre Lake Manawa offers a unique blend of nature and adventure. Visitors can enjoy a range of activities, from navigating the paved nature trails, which connect to the Council Bluffs trail system, to discovering Iowa’s largest ADA-accessible playground. Lake Manawa is a hub for water-based fun with facilities for boats of all sizes and a welcoming beach for swimming in the summer months.

Wehrspann Lake

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Wehrspann Lake, with a surface area of 246 acres, lies at the heart of the spacious Chalco Hills Recreation Area. A haven for daytime outdoor activities, it boasts 7 miles of trails for biking, hiking, or jogging. Alongside native prairie grasses and a nature trail, Wehrspann Lake features an arboretum and a waterfowl observation platform for bird watchers. You’ll also find a universally accessible fishing pier for anglers to cast a line into the lake.

Glenn Cunningham Lake

Glenn Cunningham Lake
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Glenn Cunningham Lake, a spacious body of water spanning 390 acres in Douglas County, can be found just 12 miles from Omaha. Its wealth of footpaths, hiking trails, and cycling routes make it a top selection for outdoor aficionados visiting Nebraska.

In operation since 1977, Glenn Cunningham Lake is a favorite spot among kayaking, canoeing, and sailing enthusiasts. Thanks to the ban on motorized boats, paddlers can enjoy calm waters while soaking up the breathtaking beauty of the scenic lakes.

Carter Lake

Man water skiing
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Just a stone’s throw from Omaha, Carter Lake, established in 1877, is a natural hub for outdoor enthusiasts. Surrounded by Carter Lake Park, it offers various water activities such as boating, water skiing, and fishing and land-based pursuits such as basketball, baseball, and football.

The area also offers quaint picnic spots for leisurely afternoons. Bird watchers will find it hard to resist Carter Lake Park, with regular spectacular sightings of 15 to 20 bald eagles flying across the lake and park.

Walnut Creek Lake

Bike on a lake
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The Walnut Creek Lake and Recreation Area is a remarkable 450-acre facility housing a 105-acre stocked reservoir. This unique “pack in, pack out” region places emphasis on visitor responsibility for maintaining the park’s cleanliness.

The area features a host of amenities, including an RV park with 44 electric sites, a hiking and biking trail looping around the lake, picnic and playground sites, and separate off-leash areas for large and small dogs.

Zorinsky Lake

Child Fishing
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Situated in west Omaha, Zorinsky Lake, named after U.S. Senator Edward Zorinsky, spans a considerable 255 acres. This day-use-only facility boasts a range of amenities, from two modern playgrounds, sports fields, and hiking and bicycling trails to an ADA-compliant fishing dock. One of its distinguishing features is the Bauermeister Prairie, one of the few remaining native tall grass prairies in eastern Nebraska.

Flanagan Lake

Man and woman kayaking
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Flanagan Lake, spanning 220 acres, is a recreational jewel introduced to Omaha’s public spaces in 2018. Part of a vast 730-acre area, it incorporates a vibrant mix of green spaces, parks, and a 5.2-mile trail designed for hiking and biking. The day-use area, popular for picnicking, also provides opportunities for no-wake speed boating, canoeing, and kayaking. Anglers can expect to encounter plenty of fish, such as northern pike, largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill.

Standing Bear Lake

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Located in northwest Omaha, Standing Bear Lake, dedicated to the memory of Ponca leader Chief Standing Bear, is a 135-acre lake in the heart of a 396-acre city park. As a day-use facility, it provides an array of activities such as picnicking, stand-up paddleboarding, hiking, bicycling, and fishing.

You can explore the lengthy recreational trail with Standing Bear Lake’s unique floating boardwalk. The park also features a playground and picnic spaces, a remote-controlled flying field, and winter activities, including ice skating.

Prairie Queen Lake

Back of man fishing
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A short 30-minute journey from Omaha brings you to Prairie Queen Lake, a part of a 335-acre recreation area featuring 135 acres of water, picnic facilities, and four miles of paved trails. Located near Werner Park’s minor league baseball field, it includes a boat ramp giving access to the lake, engineered as a flood control artificial reservoir with underwater shoals to attract fish. The lake houses a variety of fish, including largemouth bass, redear sunfish, bluegill, catfish, and black crappie.

Lewis & Clark Lake

Lewis and Clark Lake, Nebraska
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Straddling the border of Nebraska and South Dakota, the expansive 31,000-acre Lewis and Clark Lake attracts over a million visitors annually. While camping is a favored activity here, the lake also serves as a hub for sailing, swimming, boating, and year-round fishing.

Conestoga Lake

Camping Hacks 13
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Just over 67 miles southwest of Omaha, you’ll find Conestoga Lake, a 230-acre jewel within a State Recreation Area. It’s a perfect spot for boating and fishing access amidst nature. To add to the fun, Conestoga Lake features facilities such as primitive camping spots, picnic areas, a playground, a dedicated fish cleaning station, a boat ramp, and more.

Lawrence Youngman Lake

Man fishing
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Lawrence Youngman Lake may only span 60 acres, but its depth peaking at 20 feet and year-round access via a southeastern boat ramp make it one of Omaha’s best locations for fishing. Among patches of weeds, a fishing station beckons anglers to try their luck with species like largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill, black crappie, and walleye.

Pony Creek Lake

Cooking while Camping
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Just a short drive southeast of Omaha and Council Bluffs, Pony Creek Lake provides a serene escape amidst Iowa’s rural landscapes. Framed by the rustic Deacon Road, the lake is part of the 53-acre Pony Creek Park, providing amenities including a playground, basic recreational facilities, a boat launch, and a seasonal campground. Being home to a prehistoric Native American settlement, Pony Creek Lake has earned the park a National Historic Landmark status.

Branched Oak Lake

Lakes Near Omaha
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Branched Oak Lake, nestled in Lancaster County’s Branched Oak State Recreational Area, is the most extensive in the Salt Valley Lakes, covering a substantial 1,800 acres. Its sizeable waters have made it a popular recreational hotspot, inviting visitors to boat, fish, and swim. If you’re after a more relaxing day trip, you can make the most of the two swimming beaches along Branched Oak Lake to chill out and unwind.

Lake McConaughy

Lake McConaughy
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Lake McConaughy, Nebraska’s second-biggest lake, owes its existence to the Kingsley Dam—one of the world’s largest of its kind. Stretching across a vast 35,699 acres, the gorgeous lake is a popular destination for lovers of fishing, boating, windsurfing, waterskiing, swimming, and scuba diving. Lake McConaughy also offers white sandy beaches, several scenic picnic spots, a plethora of campgrounds, and the comfort of lakeside lodges for those seeking a less rustic experience.

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Miami Beach
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Ann Arbor for MSN
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