Welcome to Smithville Lake

Don't forget to wear your life jacket when boating on the lake!
Pelicans and cormorants are common around Smithville Lake on their migration through the area.
As the sun sets on Smithville Lake, don't forget to turn on your boats navigation lights.

Outdoor Recreation



Contact the USACE office at Smithville

May 25 through September 1, 2024 we are open 7 days a week from 8am to 4pm.

Hours: 8am to 4pm Monday through Friday as staffing allows September through May.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Smithville Lake
Jerry Litton Visitor Center
16311 County Rd DD
Smithville, MO 64089

Phone: 816-532-0174

Email: Smithville@usace.army.mil

Need to Know

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 Hours of Operation

Vistor Center hours:

Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

From May to September 7 days a week 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Closed for Federal holidays


 America The Beautiful Passes- ***Are sold by appointment only*** Appointments are scheduled Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 9am to 11:45am and 1:15 to 3:45pm.  To schedule an appointment, Call  816-532-0174.  ***Cash or check only, Bring ID. Available passes include, America the Beautiful Annual, Access, Senior Lifetime, Senior Annual, Veteran, and Uniformed Military.

Annual Pass - Available to everyone - $80

Military Annual Pass for U.S. Military - Available to current U.S. military members and dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard and also, Reserve and National Guard members. Must be obtained in person by showing a Common Access Card or Military ID (Form 1173).

Veteran Pass for U.S. Military Veterans-Available to Veterans who provide ID and one of the following: Department of Defense ID Card, Veteran Health Identification Card, Veteran ID Card, or Veteran's designation on a State-issued driver's license or identification card.

Annual 4th Grade Pass - Available to U.S. 4th graders (including home-schooled and free-choice learners 10 years of age) with a valid Every Kid in a Park paper pass. The Pass is valid for the duration of the 4th grade school year through the following summer (September-August). Paper passes can be obtained by visiting the Every Kid in a Park website (https://www.nationalparks.org/our-work/campaigns-initiatives/every-kid-park). Digital version of the paper pass will not be accepted to exchange for an Annual 4th Grade Pass.  

Senior Pass - U.S. Citizens or Permanent residents age 62 or over (Must bring ID for proof of age). - Annual-$20 or Lifetime-$80

Access Pass - For U. S. Citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. - Free - Applicants must provide one of these documents: Notice of Award (SSDI), Summary of Benefits (VA), or Award Letter (VA).

Volunteer Pass - For volunteers with 250 service hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program.



Use of The America the Beautiful Pass

America the Beautiful (ATB) passes are sold at Smithville and Longview Project Offices at federal visitor centers.  NOTE: Smithville, Longview and Blue Springs Lakes camping and day use areas DO NOT honor the ATB passes as they are operated by County and City agencies under cost-shared lease agreements. Please check local websites for Clay County Missouri, City of Smithville Missouri and Jackson County Missouri for any discounts offered outside the federal pass program.

 Area Closure Signs in Public Access Points

In response to illegal activity at a number of our public access points, we have posted area closure signs at these parking areas that state:

Notice: Area Closed 10pm to 6am Except for Permitted Uses

These parking areas are closed to any activity other than hunting or fishing with users possessing valid, state-issued hunting and/or fishing permits.

***These closures only apply to the numbered Public Access Point Parking areas as shown on the Smithville Lake Map as yellow numbered circles***

 Drones and Light Aircraft

Operation of Drones and Light Aircraft are prohibited on all Corps of Engineers property by Title 36 Section 327.4

This is because our reservoirs fall under the category of critical infrastructure. We are working with the FAA to update their mapping products to incorporate Corps lands as No Fly Zones.

Many lakes have designated areas for Remote Controlled Airplanes such as the Dambusters at Smithville Lake that may allow drone use on their leased area. Contact Dambusters for more information at 816-343-4104.

 Frequently Answered Questions

Smithville Lake FAQ’s


Q: Where can I launch my kayak?

A: If you already have a Clay County Parks Annual Pass, you can launch at any of Clay County’s ramps. Other locations they can launch are Access points 6, 8, 9, 10, 14, 18. Some people also park and launch from the bridges on W Hwy.


Q: Where can I fish?

A: You can fish anywhere from the shoreline with a fishing permit.


Q: Where can I swim?

A: There are two designated swim beaches at Little Platte Park and Camp Branch Park near Clay County Parks office. They are protected from boat traffic. People can swim at their own risk anywhere around the lake but should be aware of boat traffic, broken glass, and fishing lures that may be on the shoreline.


Q: Why doesn’t the America the Beautiful Pass work at Smithville Lake?

A: The America the Beautiful Pass only works at Federally operated areas. Smithville Lake is a cost-share lake meaning that the recreation areas are leased out and operated by the City of Smithville and Clay County Parks. Most of the KC District Lakes are Federally operated. The KC District Lakes that are not Federally operated are Smithville, Longview, Blue Springs, and Long Branch.


Q: Where do I get a pass?

A: What type of pass are you interested in? Clay County Parks sells annual park passes for their areas including the parks and boat ramps. They sell their passes at their office at Camp Branch 17201 Paradesian Rd Smithville, MO. Day use passes for Clay County Parks are sold at the park entrances and are good at all parks for the day.

America the Beautiful passes (Access pass for disabilities, Military or veteran pass, Senior annual/lifetime, and the Annual) are sold at the Jerry Litton Visitor Center and the Longview Lake office.

There is also a Corps Lake annual pass that is good for Corps operated boat ramps and day use areas.


Q: Where can I get a fishing permit?

A: Fishing permits are sold through the Missouri department of Conservation (MDC). They have an online app, or website that you can order from. Pricing can be found in the Fishing regulations booklet on page 4. There is a permit card available that will store all of your active permits on one place. It can be purchased on the MDC site (mdc.mo.gov/buypermits)


Q: Where can I find information on lake levels? Or Why is the lake so low/high?

A: Smithville Lake is primarily a Flood Control Lake. We regulate the lake levels according to our Water Control Manual in order to prevent flooding downstream. Smithville Lake is also a water supply lake and supplies the cities of Smithville, Trimble, Grayson, and Plattsburg with drinking water. Lake levels can be found on our website under “Daily Lake Info” https://www.nwk.usace.army.mil/Locations/District-Lakes/Smithville-Lake/ or by calling our office line and using the automated system. You can also Google Smithville Lake and select the link that begins with “NWK”.


Where can I hunt around the lake?

A: You will need the Smithville Lake map which can be found at the Litton Visitor center, on our website, or at local gas stations. The tan-colored areas are designated public hunting areas.


Q: What permits do I need to hunt at Smithville Lake areas?

A: All Missouri Department of Conservation rules apply at Smithville Lake hunting areas. Note that the Honker Cove Waterfowl Refuge is closed to all hunting and boating from October 15-January 31 every year.


Q: How can I reserve a shelter?

A: The only shelter the Corps manages at Smithville Lake is the Overview Shelter located behind the Jerry Litton Visitor Center. It is reservable by contacting the Visitor Center staff. The City of Smithville manages the two shelters in the Smith’s Fork Park. Clay County Parks manages their 12 shelters within their parks.


Q: Is there free access to the trail system around Smithville Lake?

A: Yes. Trailheads located at Little Platte South, Little Platte North, Smoke and Davies, and Anita B. Gorman, the Litton Center trail, Lake Remote are all free to access.


Q: Where can I camp at Smithville Lake?

A: There are three campgrounds. Two (Camp Branch and Crows Creek) are managed by Clay County Parks (816)407-3400. The third, Smith’s Fork, is managed by the City of Smithville (816)532-1028.


Q: Can I bring my dog to the lake?

Dogs are allowed at Smithville Lake but must be leashed while in the park areas and on all trails. Dogs are not allowed on the swim beach for public health and safety.


Q: How do I register my boat/watercraft?

A: Visit dor.mo.gov/motor-vehicle/watercraft/


Q: What does the sign mean that says, “Notice: Area closed from 10pm to 6am except for permitted uses?”

A: To curb illegal activity, these areas are closed to the public during these times unless users are actively engaged in hunting or fishing and have a valid permit in their possession.


Smithville Lake News Releases

Smithville Lake conducts vital periodic inspection of dam to ensure safety
Officials conducted a periodic inspection of Smithville Dam on April 23 and 24, 2024, in Smithville, Missouri. Periodic inspections occur every five years to ensure the safety and integrity of the...




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