Great Outdoors

Discover the beauty of McCook and Red Willow County by enjoying the natural settings and outdoor adventures along our river, prairie lakes and walking trails.

 Prairie Chicken Dance Tours

charming, fascinating - and for most of the year, elusive - Southwest Nebraska's Greater Prairie Chickens strut their stuff in a spectacular show each spring.  Join a group of early morning birders in late March and early April to observe the annual mating dance that will enchant, amaze and thrill you. For more information, and to book your tour, go to


Parks and Trails

From acres of parks and playgrounds to miles of walking trails lined with mature trees, McCook is an ideal spot to stop and stretch for a day or two. Revitalize yourself from the road with outdoor activities, relaxing family picnics, refreshing nature walks or by just swinging in the shade of a large tree.

Barnett Park stretches out along the Republican River at the southern edge of McCook on Hwy 83 and provides a wide variety of nature-related activities for all ages. One of the park's favorite attractions are the large groups of ducks and Canadian geese that gather to gobble up bread crumbs that you toss their way. The park is covered with several ponds that are well maintained and stocked for children's fishing. Enjoy excellent playground areas and sand volleyball courts during the summer. Walking trails run deep into the woods along the Republican River for those who enjoy hiking or bicycling. Barnett's an ideal place for picnics, with tables, picnic shelters and grills conveniently located throughout the park. Of course there is plenty of room to spread a traditional picnic blanket on the grass, and an out-of-the-way spot can always be found.

Elks City Park on West 5th Street features concrete-covered tennis courts that also serve as an excellent place for smooth rollerblading, street hockey and skateboarding. The large sunny and open lawn is a great place to spread a picnic blanket or play frisbee, hacky sack or catch.

Karrer Park rests at the end of the Kelley Creek Walking Trail. This free tourist camp is conveniently located at the east edge of McCook on Hwy 6 & 34. The park offers free camping, modern restrooms and showers, picnic areas with tables and grills, electrical hookups for RVs and a pay phone.

Kelley Park covers grassy hills on the northeast side of McCook. A huge picnic shelter rests right next to the municipal swimming pool, making Kelley Park a favorite for large group and family gatherings during the summer. The pool and playground area are within earshot. A second shelter sits at the north end of the park, along the Kelley Creek. Sand volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, tall shade trees, 18-hole disc golf course and plenty of space allow for all sorts of outdoor activities. On the west side, Bolles Canyon offers large open lawns surrounded by mature trees.

Kelley Creek Walking Trail starts near the end of Norris Ave., passes through Kelley Park and stretches 11 miles to Karrer Park. The trail passes horse corrals, residential areas and the Broken Tee Golf Course.

Norris Park rests within McCook's Heritage Square area along Norris Avenue. The historic bandshell is a main attraction during cultural festivals and celebrations. Experience summer concerts, live storytelling and other forms of entertainment, while relaxing on lush green lawns surrounded by trees. The park also features a playground, picnic tables and public restrooms, as well as a Nebraska State Historical Marker and the Copper Kettle Monument. See Also: McCook, Nebraska Historical Attractions

Southwest Nebraska Hunting

Southwest Nebraska is nationally known as home to some of the best hunting in the state. Our State Recreation Areas (SRA) and Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) offer approximately 19,000 acres of public hunting land managed for wildlife habitat. From a variety of upland game birds and waterfowl to scavengers and big game hunts, McCook is the ideal destination for all of your hunting adventures.

More information on planning your Nebraska hunting trip:

  • Buy your hunting license online, view season dates, download maps and the Nebraska State Hunting Guide.
  • Visit: Nebraska Game & Parks

State Recreation Areas

McCook rests at the heart of the four Southwest Nebraska reservoirs and State Recreation Areas (SRA). From water skiing, swimming and boating, to hunting, fishing and camping, our area lakes allow for year-round outdoor fun and adventure.

Red Willow SRA

Just 11 miles north of McCook, some of the best hunting and fishing in Nebraska can be found at the Red Willow SRA. Six thousand acres of public land surrounds a 1,600-acre lake that is home to the hook and line state records for both black and white crappie. Anglers come to troll 35-miles of brushy shoreline for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Submerged trees make great crappie fishing year round. Spring through fall is best for white bass, northern pike and walleye.

Hunters trek the tall grasses and brushy canyons for great hunting of pheasant, quail, waterfowl, rabbit and both whitetail and mule deer.

You'll find campsites with outstanding panoramic views, modern sites with electrical hook-ups, showers and restrooms, RV stations and sheltered picnic areas. Rustic sites circle the lake for a secluded camping experience.

Medicine Creek SRA

One of Nebraska's most scenic nature spots rests in the Medicine Valley, 25 miles east of McCook and 7 miles north of Hwy 6 & 34. Huge trees, great camping areas and a 6,500-acre wildlife area surround a beautiful 2,000-acre lake at the Medicine Creek SRA. The east edge of the lake is perfect for RVs, providing surfaced pads, electrical hook-ups, showers, restrooms and RV stations. Primitive sites surround the lake for a rustic camping experience.

You'll find spots for king-size crappie, white bass and walleye, and one of the state's best public hunting areas, developed as a wildlife habitat area.

Swanson SRA

Located 24 miles west along Hwy 34, the Swanson SRA offers year-round adventure with 5,000 acres of water and 4,000 acres of dry land. Crystal clear water attracts anglers, boaters and campers. The Spring Canyon and Macklin Bay areas provide modern conveniences with electrical hook-ups, modern showers, restrooms and RV stations.

Swanson SRA is known for trophy-size northern pike, abundant crappie, and huge walleye. Large schools of white bass attract anglers from July through September, and they continue to pull up crappie and northern pike, while ice fishing through the winter months. Outstanding hunting for upland game birds, waterfowl and deer can be found on the west end of the lake with 3,000 acres of public wildlife land.

Enders SRA

Just an hour northwest of McCook along Hwy 6 & 61, you'll find a 1,700 acre lake and plenty of wildlife. Enders SRA hosts 5,000 acres of scenic nature areas, including a waterfowl refuge. Modern campsites line the lake's eastern shore, with electrical hookups, barbecue grills, picnic shelters, restrooms and an RV station. Rustic sites can always be found for camping off the beaten path. Enders SRA is known for its excellent hunting and fishing, with beautiful natural scenery covering a 26-mile shoreline.

For More Information on Nebraska State Recreation Areas: