Sandy Channel

Sandy Channel State Recreation Area is just 1.5 miles from the Elm Creek interchange in the south central part of Nebraska. Sandy Channel is a 134-acre area next to the Platte River. It's designated a state recreation area but no permit is required to enter. The numerous lakes that comprise the site are pits pumped for sand and gravel during construction of I-80. Divers should take care not to stir up the muddy and sandy bottom. Local divers help keep the area clean. Underwater attractions include four sunken boats, a concrete turtle, concrete alligators, tractor tires piled in a pyramid, a windmill, a satellite dish, and four platforms.

Depths to: 25 feet (7.5 m)

Visibility: Up to 25 feet (7.5 m)

Water temperature: During the summer, 78 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius) at the surface and 65 F (19 C) near the bottom.

Aquatic life: Channel catfish, carp, bluegill, green sunfish, largemouth bass, rock bass, black crappie, yellow perch, and painted, snapping and leatherback turtles.

Fees: None

On-site amenities: There is plenty of space for tents and self-contained campers. There is not, however, any fresh water or dump site for campers.

More info: Call the Nebraska Games and Park Commission at (308) 865-5305.

Open: Year-round.

Getting there: From Interstate 80, take Exit 257. From there, drive south 1.5 miles on U.S. Highway 183. Sandy Channel State Recreation Area is on the east side of the highway.