Wilson Lake: The Clearest Lake in Kansas

Nicknamed “the clearest lake in Kansas”, Wilson Lake is the result of the 40 meter tall dam built in 1964 for flood control on Saline River. The reservoir is located in the heart of the Smoky Hills, in central Kansas.

Wilson Lake Stats

Lake NameWilson Lake
CountryUnited States
Surface area34.330
Maximum depth20.0
Average depth26.4
Lake typeReservoir
Catchment area5003.70
InflowsSaline River
OutflowsSaline River
Shore length88.98
SettlementsLucas, Sylvan Grove, Wilson
Residence time2136.4
Trophic stateMesotrophic to eutrophic
OriginHuman Made
Average discharge4.918

Wilson Lake Accommodation


Wilson Lake is located right next to Wilson State Park and Wildlife Area, 8 kilometers North of Interstate 70, in the Saline River Valley. It is considered by many an unforeseen oasis in the middle of the wide and flat stretch of the Kansas Prairie.

Tourism and Recreation

Wilson State Park has two main areas, Hell Creek and the Otoe area. On the premises there are 5 different parks with campgrounds, of which three are under the management of the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Lucas, Miinooka and Sylvan parks), whilst the remaining two, Wilson and Otoe State Parks are administrated by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. For those wishing for a more comfortable stay, there are also some deluxe cabins on the coast, equipped with proper plumbing and electricity.

Wilson Lake, located on the border between Russell and Lincoln County, is known mainly for being a prime spot for smallmouth and striped bass fishing. It is also a preferred place for boating, the peak boating season occurring between the 1st of April and the 1st of November. The reservoir's marinas offer plenty of services, including pontoon boat rental, groceries stores, gas and bait.

Numerous designated picnic areas, grills, volleyball courts and playgrounds can be found in the State Park Area. Trekking is another preferred activity, practiced by many. The Bur Oak Nature Trail starts just below the dam at the lake and is a relative short hike, with a nice introduction to local wildlife. Rocktown Hiking Trail, lying at the Western section of Lucas Park is a 1.2 km2 region that has been declared a Natural and Scientific Area. After a few kilometers of walking, trekkers can admire the 4-9 meters tall sandstone rocks which stand out majestically from the water. A 6.5 kilometer long bike trail is also open to tourists, which has been rated intermediate in difficulty and contains some frightening descents.

Wilson Lake Map