Sandy Channel – For Fun, Fishing, Camping, Birdwatching
If you camp, bird, fish, snorkel, canoe, kayak, photograph, or enjoy the many other facets of nature’s playground, collect your gear and cruise to Sandy Channel – 3 miles south of Elm Creek on Highway 183. Sandy Channel State Recreation Area (SRA) is dusting off and showing off spiffy new features. The clear, clean lakes are stocked for fun fishing. The fishing delight factor is escalated by improved shoreline access, walking trails, and boat ramps.
Sandy Channel is a popular fishery for largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish and yellow perch. The area encompasses approximately 180 acres, including 52 acres of water in six lakes.A new handicap-accessible fishing pier is installed on Lake No. 8, the largest lake on the area, and more than 500 feet of shoreline is cleared of brush and reshaped for easier access to the water’s edge. Concrete boat ramps were installed at Lakes No.2 and 4, the shoreline cleared of brush, and on Lake No. 4, concrete walkways allow access to the water’s edge.
Upgrades to the primitive campsites include adding 16 picnic tables and 8 fire grills. In addition, two handicap-accessible toilets, a kiosk for posting information, additional mowing and trimming, a Great Park Pursuit impression post, and a self-pay station for camping and park permit fees add comfort and appeal to the campgrounds..
A park entry permit is required of each vehicle entering a state park area. Park permits are $25 a year or $5 a day. Camping reservations are not available at Sandy Channel. Camping fees are $8 per night.
~ Nebraska Game & Parks Comission
Sandy Channel SRA sits in a very good location for both birds and birdwatching. For birdwatchers, it is close to Interstate 80 and right off of Highway 183 – so paved roads will get you to the entrance of the area. It is also right off of the Platte River, which serves as a migration corridor and stopover for large numbers of birds of many different species. During March and April, birdwatchers could expect to see Sandhill Cranes, Snow Geese, Canada Geese and lots of ducks, cormorants and gulls flying over and with all of the open water habitat on the property, it is a good bet that there will be some puddle ducks, some diving ducks and other water birds somewhere on the property. As the spring migration continues on, and neotropical migrants start to arrive, the mixture of trees and shrubs near open water, along with small pockets of open grassland habitat, mean that Sandy Channel is a great place to look for migrating warblers, sparrows, orioles, and many other species. Mid to late September, in addition to beautiful weather, would also be a good time to look for migrating warblers and sparrows.
For those that like to hike, the new trails at Sandy Channel will take you from pond to pond and through the other mixtures of habitat. As you approach a pond, be watching for Green Herons on the shorelines and listening for Gray Catbirds “mewing” at you from nearby shrubs. House Wrens and woodpeckers will likely have their eyes on you as you pass through wooded habitats with larger trees, and Song and Field Sparrows will join in the avian chorus as you pass by open grassland pockets near trees and water. While Sandy Channel is not yet known for producing many RARE birds (things not seen in the area very often), the improvements to the Recreation Area should attract more users to the area, which could lead to rarer birds being found on occasion. Best time to birdwatch at Sandy Channel would probably be the first two weeks of May, but with its location and mixture of habitats, it is worth checking any time of the year. So get out there and drive the roads or hike the trails and see what you can find, it will be time well spent.
Biologist, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission