U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

McClellan Creek National Grassland


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Grassland Information

The McClellan Creek National Grassland (NG), 1,149 acres, is located in the Texas Panhandle (northwest Texas). It is administered by the Cibola National Forest. There is one campground and it meets the selection criteria.

George B. McClellan was an Army surveyor, invented the saddle that is still in use and bares his name, rose to General in the Union Army, and ran for President against Abraham Lincoln, just to mention a few of his accomplishments. While performing his duties as an Army surveyor in the Texas panhandle, McClellan named a little creek after himself. Years later, a dam was built across McClellan Creek and Lake McClellan formed. Oil wells were drilled on the ridges above the lake and a little later, McClellan Lake became part of the McClellan Creek NG. By then the lake was the premiere recreational area in the Texas panhandle. Time, budget cuts, changes in how people recreate, and a massive wildfire in 2006 changed McClellan Lake. Special features like a dance hall and store are gone but McClellan Lake continues to offer outstanding recreational opportunities to its visitors.

The bright blue water of McClellan Lake is an oasis of refreshing possibilities surrounded by the rolling golden hills of the McClellan Creek NG. Trees along the shoreline offer shade and shelter to both people and wildlife. Since the devastating wildfire in 2006, the south shore has been closed but the north shore is open and ready for campers, anglers, and ATV enthusiasts.

McClellan Creek's only campground (Lake McClellan Recreation Area (RA)) has a pleasant assortment of sites accommodating tent, car, and recreation vehicle (RV) campers. About half these sites have electric and water hookups. And the campground has flush toilets, hot showers, and an RV waste station. Anglers are challenged by healthy populations of Channel catfish, Largemouth bass, and assorted panfish. Winding and steep trails offer ATV enthusiasts a challenging, although probably too brief, recreation.

Perhaps one of the best features of Lake McClellan RA campground is how convenient it is to I-40. A little more than three-miles from the truck traffic, the blazing sunshine, and hurry of the Interstate, Lake McClellan Recreation Area campground is a true oasis of calm, quiet, and shade - a super place to end a day of travel.

It might be hard to see the McClellan Creek NG as anything other than what it is today. However, the area now designated as "grassland" was settled in the 1800s under a variety of "Homestead Acts," which opened the land to people, generally farmers, and helped to settle the west. A prolonged period of drought in the late 1920s into the 1930s caused some homesteads on sub-marginal farmland (a location receiving 15 or less inches of annual moisture) to literally dry up and blow away. During this time, Congress established the Land Utilization Program (LUP) which bought homesteads from bankrupt private owners and returned it to public land status. The Work Program Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) enrollees helped to stabilize the eroding soil. In the 1950s, the LUP holdings were assigned to the USDA Forest Service and who was tasked with management of these sub-marginal lands. Over the years the Forest Service has established some twenty National Grasslands from those sub-marginal lands. "The designation of the area as National Grassland is not a description of the area as much as a statement of policy and effort to restore the area to a multiple of uses and benefits."

General McClellan did not have an opportunity to see the grassland nor lake that bares his name. But visitors to this little grassland oasis in the Texas panhandle will probably agree, McClellan is a place they enjoyed and will remember.

SUPERVISOR ADDRESS 2113 Osuna Road, NE Suite A Albuquerque, New Mexico 87113 505-346-3900 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESS Black Kettle Route 1, Box 55-B Cheyenne, Oklahoma 73628 580-497-2143

Fred and Suzi Dow