If you’re camping to get out in nature and relax, this is not what you’re looking for. The campgrounds and lake here are party central - which is fine, just know what you’re getting into.
I came here to camp after a night down at Pawnee/Lake View and it was a stark contrast in experience. After kayaking on the lake, I was able to find a site that wasn’t reserved - which is almost impossible to do! Expect sites to fill up fast around here, you have to be willing to drive around through all the loops and areas to see what you might be able to snag. Do not listen to the park staff when they say an area is full - I was told this and it was not the case at all. Wasted a lot of time that trip because of misinformation.
Expect to get cozy with your camping neighbors - sites are crammed in and not spread out in the least.
Sometimes trash is a big issue at this campground too- the huge bins are overflowing after a big weekend.
Noise - constant noise from the boats on the lake and other folks out camping or for day recreation. There is a bike trail for riders, a marina, and a dedicated party cove for the younger college crowd.
I ended up leaving after a few hours at my spot because it just wasn’t worth it to stay.
Doesn’t look like the northern campground at Pawnee Lake comes up in a search on this app, very specific to note my review is for the Lake View area that is on the north side of the lake. Pops up in google maps no problem.
This tends to be a quieter area, easy to head out later in the evening and still usually plenty of tent camping spots. I love this area because I camp close to the water, and can watch the sun come up over the water and trees. There’s an easy little put in for my kayak over here. Too bad that after May, the water is too overtaken with algae to hit the water.
That is so important to note at this lake - if you are camping with an animal/dog you may want to reconsider. Again, the algae here is very bad more months in the summer than good. Even once the warnings are taken down, it’s still thick with green algae and it’s harmful to animals. If you planned to swim I would caution you to re-evaluate.
Generally you’ll always be able to find an open spot here, so for a little more mellow atmosphere compared to the bigger Branched Oak lake just north, this is a great smaller alternative that is just outside Lincoln.
Also plenty of spots for Day recreation too - multiple swimming beaches and picnic spots. There’s only one spot that has a short walk form your car to the picnic area and it’s less than a minute, so you don’t have to haul stuff around.
I camp here maybe once or twice a year, small area for tent camping that is quite open to other sites - not for campers hoping to get privacy or who can’t handle some late night parties. The area is set back quite a ways from the lake but the lake is still easy to access.
Note that if you are at the swimming beach area and wanting to grill out, be prepared to haul your items from your parked car nearby, not from back at the tent sites. It is less convenient than other campground set ups.
Make sure you come prepared with your pass and camping pass - unlike a majority of other campgrounds, I have noticed the park rangers won’t wait the first hour to let you get set up and squared away.
I stay here to enjoy kayaking, but have also ridden my bike out or just come out to gril and swim with friends. Top lake within a 60 minute drive and for those wanting to stay close to Lincoln.