Grownup Getaways · Nebraska

I Need a Historic Riverfront, Sunsets, & Smoked Fish Near Camp-I Need Nebraska

The calmness of this campsite is absorbing the winds of the plains and aroma of the Missouri greeting us nearby. This is Lewis and Clark State Rec Area and the easy getaway we needed here in the heartland.

Crofton, NE: Knox County (Our first Nebraska County)

We had a target destination and it was Medora, ND. We could have gotten there in 12 hours but in fine gallivant fashion we went through our road trip like your average paper airplane flies through a room. It’ll land where you’re aiming eventually but it’s going take a lot of loops, curves, and turns before it gets there. That’s how we travel and that’s how we discovered The Lewis and Clark Lake State Rec Area and our first gallivant in Nebraska! Naturally, we toured the rec area through a few meals first.

Never Take Your Eye Off the River

The Missouri River has many waterfront views and one of the best is here in Crofton, NE at Murdo’s.


There’s plenty of great selections on the Murdo’s menu and that includes this very juicy and saucy burger. The Jam Burger is topped with melted cheese, spicy Murdo sauce, and the smoky-sweet sensation of bacon jam!
A cold one with the sun dropping over the Missouri is an easy selling point for us when we want to have a grownup getaway.

Lewis and Clark had the beauty of Nebraska in its fullest and purest views during the Corps of Discovery’s expedition. Obviously much has changed, but there was no way I wasn’t going to imagine them floating by anyway. Murdo’s has a patio setting that showcases great food with the natural setting of this historic waterway and it’s only minutes from the campsites here in Crofton and Yankton across the river. You can view the river creeping by, observe the boats motoring along, and hear jubilation from campers as they fish and enjoy their fire pits. These sites and sounds are better than anything I can find on a TV screen.

I could end the story here and there would be many that wouldn’t see anything wrong with that. We gallivant on, however.
The look of a man who wants to be at this exact spot at this exact moment.
Be careful, Crofton. I may homestead here and not just camp.

Supply Up With the Locals

Where’s the Dam Fish Shack? Just up the hill from the reservoir and you won’t have any trouble finding it.
Supply up with a lot of local flavors. From elk jerky to smoked carp. That sounds like the perfect stocking stiffer to me!
One of the classic landmarks marks at this must see destination here at the rec area. No address needed. Just look for this!

The Dam Fish Shack is about as close to a perfect destination I can come up with when I’m exploring and need a break. It’s a part of small town America, in a beautiful and underrated Midwest community, positioned in a historic area, and a very-very short distance from where I’ll be sleeping…Should I go on? Why not!

Having a not-so vicious guard dog to welcome us everyone is always a fantastic way to get us to love your establishment.

I love local eats. I will always gravitate to what the people of the area are proud of above anything else. Cutting edge, modern, fusion inspired and other catch phrases can be exciting ways to eat your way through a region. However, when I hear things like smoked carp, it feels like a slot machine jackpot going off in my noggin. Even if I don’t end up liking it, I want to be able to say I didn’t turn it down. The smoked carp was tasty. Meaty flavor at the beginning and then the outdoorsy hints come rushing in at the end. Would I eat this oily and flaky fish again? Yes. But only in Crofton. I reserve certain culinary wonders to enjoying them in the place I first had them or where I know it will be at its best. I haven’t had conch since I left the Florida Keys. I haven’t had a caramel roll outside of North Dakota. I haven’t had a prickly pear margarita since I lived in Wickenburg, Arizona or a fried cod cheek outside of Cape Cod. This river creature will be my Knox County only staple. This wasn’t the only water breathing catch we had here….

Are you seeing why this is my kind of place?
The food truck craze and culture doesn’t have a single boundary and it’s found here in Lewis and Clark country.
The basket of fried food. A national treasure.

A little bar made from a couple of old boats serving ice cold beers with mixed drinks, and hot food coming from the food truck that’s bringing the whole property together. We went fried catfish and that was a very good decision. Served up from a pirate speaking cook over a loud speaker and still popping and crackling from the heat of the fryer. This is simple, good for the soul, and just the fare I wanted on a patio in Northern Nebraska. This place thrives on tourism, but it does not feel like a tourist trap. It had plenty of visitors like ourselves and the employees interacted with local customers at the same time. It would be very easy to become a regular here and something tells me that the staff would expedite that feeling very quickly.

Taken out of the river just a few feet from our campsite by a family from Sioux City. We weren’t the only folks traveling from Iowa to visit our neighbors in the west. This was just one of many and not even the biggest catfish on the day for them.

You can look up from your basket of fried catfish or while laying on the grass near the Missouri River and see a few planes flying over. Many of the passengers are on vacation and going somewhere that’s not in Nebraska. Yes, the fine folks of Crofton and the Corn Husker State would absolutely love more visitors. That goes without saying. But no one here on the Lewis and Clark trail is worried about the countless flyers in the air going to destinations that are showing up on page one of a Google search. Everyone here is pleasantly taking care of the steady stream of travelers that said “I want to be here right now and be with the people of Nebraska!”. Folks who wanted a riverfront, clear sky, to not be rushed, sunshine, great food, a warm fire, and cold drinks were having their own memorable experiences all around us. There was a lot of that to go around with a lot of leg room and no alarms, alerts, or schedules needed in Knox County.

Say hello to the neighbors in South Dakota past the dam. And tell them to please bring beer because we’re comfortable and not leaving our campsite. Thank you very much! Oh, and the guy with the Wayne State shirt says we’ll need tomato juice for some reason too.

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