Calamus Reservoir State Recreation Area is located 6 miles northwest of Burwell in the Nebraska Sandhills. About half of the site's 11,000 acres are the lake formed by the Virginia Smith Dam, while the rest consists of gently rolling hills of native prairie and grasslands. Several miles of streams meander through the property.

The Reservoir is a popular destination for anglers, boaters, hunters, and campers, and the Calamus Fish Hatchery is nearby.

Ornithological Summary

Calamus Reservoir is important for the diversity of birds attracted to the expansive water and upland habitats available. The lake attracts high numbers of migrating waterfowl, shorebirds, and other waterbirds. Native Sandhill prairie uplands provide important nesting habitat for greater prairie-chickens, grasshopper sparrows, and field sparrows. Northern bobwhite, red-headed woodpeckers, and Bell's vireos breed here as well.


Calamus Reservoir State Recreation Area is owned and operated by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.


The 5,000-acre lake is ringed by a riparian shoreline made up of a deciduous tree mixture dominated by cottonwoods and willows. Thousands of acres of native Sandhills prairie surround the lake, and a few small streams and occassional shrubby areas are intermixed in the uplands.

Land Use

Calamus Reservoir offers many different recreational opportunities: fishing, boating, camping, swimming, and others. The uplands surrounding the lake provide excellent wildlife observation opportunities for birdwatchers and hunters. Trails are not available for hikers, horseback riders, or bikers.

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