Lake Clinton Near Lawrence, Kansas

Clinton Lake is a reservoir lake to the southwest of Lawrence, Kansas. Although it was initially built to control the flooding in the area and provide water to the city of Lawrence, it has become a haven for campers, hikers, bikers, fishermen, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts.

Clinton Lake Stats

Lake NameClinton Lake
CountryUnited States
Surface area28.280
Maximum depth17.0
Average depth16.1
Lake typeReservoir
Catchment area939.60
InflowsWakarusa River, Rock Creek, Deer Creek
OutflowsWakarusa River
Shore length54.59
SettlementsLawrence, Kansas
Residence time711.5
Trophic stateEutrophic
Average discharge7.398
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Hydrology and Natural History

The reservoir is located south of Interstate 70, near the city of Lawrence, and is formed mainly by the Wakarusa River. The river exits the dam and continues its journey to the East, pouring into the Kansas River. The reservoir’s primary tributaries are mostly creeks, including Clinton, Stull, Lawrence, Washington, Dry, Coon and Camp Creek.

The main settlements along the lake besides the city of Lawrence are the smaller towns of Clinton and Stull.  The Kansas state capital, Topeka, is close-by to the West, whilst Kansas City is located a bit further to the East. The proximity to these cities and towns created the demand for a large and diverse recreational spot.

The wooded shorelines of the reservoir are home to many animals, such as white tail deer, quail, turkey, doves, rabbits and squirrels. Bald eagles, great blue herons, gulls, cormorants, American white pelicans and Canada geese are some of the most frequently seen birds in the area.

The reservoir has a large number of fish habitats like mudflats, drop-offs, river channels and rocks. The most common species are the crappie, white bass, walleye, channel catfish and the wiper.

History of the Dam

Before the barrage was built, Wakarusa valley had a history of many violent floods which destroyed many towns in the area (Belvoir, Bloomington and Sigil) a number of times. These were later demolished because of the construction of the dam.

The reservoir is the result of the Clinton dam, which is manages by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Its construction was approved by the Flood Control Act of 1962, but it only gathered enough funds for the project in 1971. Construction started in 1972 and ended in 1975. The filling of the reservoir began on the 30th of November 1977, and was completed in 1980. Since the reservoir administrators kept the native grass on the upper-lake bed, it became a very hospitable environment for fish.

The multi-purpose operations started in 1981, concentrating on flood control, adequate water supply and recreation. Since it is the source of water for more than 100 000 people in North-Eastern Kansas, Clinton Lake is the most relied-on reservoir in the state.

Tourism and Leisure

Since the demand was so high for a diverse recreational spot nearby, Clinton Reservoir has plenty of tourist attraction on its precinct. The most popular activities are boating, fishing, various water sports and cross country skiing.

Clinton State Park offers plenty of hiking and mountain bike trails, as well as possibilities for horseback riding, geocaching, wildlife viewing and hunting. There are many accommodation sites available along the reservoir’s coastline, mostly consisting of primitive and utility camping. A few cabins can also be found for those in need of heated water and air-conditioning. Clinton Lake Museum is located in the park, offering insightful information in a local exhibition held in an old milk shed.

This recreational oasis also has its privately owned and operated marina, as well as an 18-hole golf course. Rockhaven Park allows is the only one that allows its guests to camp with their mules and horses.

The Territorial Capitol Museum at Lane University is also an interesting tourist attraction. The Constitution Hall State Historic Site has many artifacts on display and two floors of pre-Civil War exhibits. The building it is located in is the oldest wood-frame government construction remaining.

The Waramusa Music Festival was held at Clinton Lake between 2004 and 2008, but it has been moved just outside of Fort Smith and Fayetteville in Arkansas.

Clinton Lake Map