Hidden hotspots offer 18 ways to kick off Memorial Day weekend

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District
Published May 26, 2022
USACE offers more than 400 outdoor recreation areas - plan your visit now!

USACE offers more than 400 outdoor recreation areas - plan your visit now!

Watch and learn how to properly fit a life jacket!

Watch and learn how to properly fit a life jacket! It's important to always wear it on and near the water.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – This weekend, outdoor recreation kicks off in full swing and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has made a short list of “Hidden Heartland Hotspots” for folks looking to try something new this Memorial Day weekend.  Just make sure your Memorial Day Weekend is memorable for all the right reasons by practicing these safety tips!


Hidden Heartland Hotspots to find around USACE lakes this weekend!


  1. Harlan County Lake, Nebraska – Rent a tube from Patterson Harbor Marina or bring your own, and tube the Republican RiverMake sure to file a float plan!
  2. Kanopolis Lake, Kansas – Take a step into another world with a hike into Horsethief Canyon at Kanopolis State Park, and you may think you’re not in Kansas anymore!  Drink water – if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated!
  3. Perry Lake, Kansas – Backpack the award-winning Perry Lake Trail and enjoy one of the few “backcountry” camping opportunities in Kansas.  Your cell phone is not a survival kit – pack a real first aid kit!
  4. Clinton Lake, Kansas – Catch the coffee truck at Clinton Lake Marina and enjoy a lake view with your brew.  Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents… stick to coffee (and water)!
  5. Harry S. Truman Lake, Missouri – Take a step back into the pioneer history of the Ozarks at the Harry S. Truman Visitor Center and Kaysinger Bluff Heritage AreaAlways buckle up when headed out on a road trip!
  6. Tuttle Creek Lake, Kansas – Try the hottest trend in boating: stand-up paddle boarding with a rental at Tuttle Creek State Park River Pond area.  Lifejackets are required by law onboard Stand-Up Paddleboards!
  7. Hillsdale Lake, Kansas – Practice your marksmanship at the  Hillsdale Shooting RangeRange Safety Officers supervise safe shooting at State Park ranges – follow their direction!
  8. Stockton Lake, Missouri – Grab your hiking boots, mountain bike, reins, or fishing rod and hit the Stockton Trails Initiative Coalition trails leading to a variety of outdoor pursuits.  Practice trail right of way (bikes yield to hikers, and everyone yields to horses).
  9. Rathbun Lake, Iowa – Normally we don’t encourage jumping into the lake, but we’ll make an exception for the Lake Aquapark at Honey Creek ResortKnow before you leap – cliff jumping results in serious injuries and deaths every year!
  10. Melvern Lake, Kansas – Why settle for archery shooting on a boring, flat range, when you can head into the woods on the Ike’s Archery Trail at Eisenhower State Park.  Know your target!
  11. Pomona Lake, Kansas – Challenge yourself with uphill, downhill, and hidden targets on the 18-hole Wolf Creek Disk Golf CourseIf you find yourself in brushy areas hunting down discs, protect yourself against tick borne illness by using repellent and regularly checking for hitchhikers!
  12. Milford Lake, Kansas – Prairie Dogs, and Eagles, and Walleye – oh my!  You see and enjoy all these animals and learn about Kansas natural history at Milford nature center and fish hatcheryGive wildlife its space – never approach or feed them (including those cute campground chipmunks).
  13. Pomme de Terre Lake, Missouri – Take a break and some pictures, Outlet Park is a picturesque setting for fishing, canoeing, hiking and wildlife viewing.  Always wear a life jacket when on, in or near the water!
  14. Smithville, Missouri – Grab the family and head to the Visitor Center for the “Dinosaur Diggers” program, Saturday, May 28 at 1:00 p.m.  Protect yourself from the sun by wearing and reapplying sunscreen throughout the day.
  15. Longview Lake, Missouri – Hit the links at the Fred Arbanas Golf Course offering 18 and 9-hole courses, driving range, putting and chipping greens.  If you’re playing hard in the heat, remember to pace yourself and drink water to prevent heat illness.
  16. Blue Springs Lake, Missouri – Arguably some of the best fishing in the Kansas City metro area, Blue Springs Lake is a great place to take kids or anyone fishing!  Never buy a life jacket for a child to grow into - a snug fit is a proper fit.
  17. Wilson Lake, Kansas – One of the best (the best?) mountain bike trails in the heartland, Switchback Mountain Bike Trail, entertains trekkers with technical climbs, sharp drops, and butter-smooth chutes.  Ride within your skill level and bring a buddy!
  18. Long Branch Lake, Missouri – Truly get away from it all with a paddle or hike-in campsite on the Bee Trace Trail in Long Branch State ParkWatch weather forecasts and plan ahead to stay safe and comfortable!


Consider these Water Safety tips:

  • Choose a U.S. Coast Guard Approved life jacket
  • Make sure the life jacket fits properly and doesn’t slip over chin or face
  • Inflatable life jackets are lightweight, cool and easy to wear with lots of movement, these work great for fishing activities
  • A variety of life jacket styles are available and some even include cartoon characters or other cool schemes that kids will enjoy
  • Many include safety features such as straps for pulling children from the water and head support
  • Never buy a life jacket for a child to grow into - a snug fit is a proper fit
  • Don’t boat under the influence
  • Keep an eye on children and inexperienced swimmers
  • Swim with a friend
  • Watch the weather forecast
  • Avoid water-based activities during severe weather
  • It only takes seconds to drown - an average of 60 seconds for an adult to drown and just 20 seconds for a child to drown


And finally, before you head out this weekend, don’t forget your pass!


Public Affairs

Release no. 22-015