Pony Express Lake Conservation Area

Driving Directions

From Cameron, take Highway 36 west 6 miles, then Highway 33 north 2 miles, then Route RA 1.50 miles to area entrance.


This area contains 740 acres of old fields and more than 1000 acres of grasslands. There are also forest, cropland, and wetlands.

About This Area

Approximately 25 miles west of the Pony Express Conservation Area on the Missouri River is the original site of a settlement known as Blacksnake Hills, later to become the city of St. Joseph, where the Pony Express mail service began in 1860.

In addition to providing public fishing and wildlife-based recreational opportunities near the St. Joseph and Kansas City metropolitan areas, Pony Express Conservation Area demonstrates the balanced relationship that can exist between agricultural operations and wildlife populations.

Acquisition of land for Pony Express Conservation Area began in 1961. The Conservation Department has purchased additional tracts since then. The area includes 240-acre Pony Express Lake, which was opened to public fishing on January 1, 1966.

In cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, construction of 45-acre Buffalo Bill Lake in the north part of the area was completed in 1987. The lake opened to public fishing in 1990 and features a concrete boat ramp, parking lot and facilities for visitors with disabilities.

General Information




Owned by MDC

(Activity Explanations)
(Population Definition)
Bird Watching  Viewing deck overlooks small wetland located on Lakesite Road.  Get the Audubon Society of Missouri Conservation Area Bird List.  
Camping - Individual Campsites   
Field Trials with Special Use Permit  Contact the area manager for application.  
Fishing - Bass Fair population. Pony Express Lake - Small population with larger bass. Buffalo Bill Lake - Numerous smaller bass. 
Fishing - Catfish Good population. Pony Express Lake - Channel and Blue Catfish. 
Fishing - Crappie Good population. Pony Express Lake - Small size, numerous. Buffalo Bill Lake - Nice sized crappie. 
Fishing - Sunfish Good population. Buffalo Bill Lake - Bluegill 
Hiking  Two designated hiking trails around east and west silt basins. 
Hunting-Deer Fair population. Deer regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Fall Deer and Turkey Booklet for current regulations.  
Hunting-Dove Good population. Click on link to dove management map (available in August).  
Hunting-Pheasant Fair population.  
Hunting-Quail Fair population.  
Hunting-Rabbit Good population.  
Hunting-Squirrel Good population.  
Hunting-Turkey Good population. Turkey regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Spring Turkey or Fall Deer and Turkey Booklet for current regulations.  
Hunting-Waterfowl-Open Hunting Fair population. No hunting zone is marked with orange barrels in lake and with white refuge signs. Waterfowl hunting is prohibited after 1:00 p.m. 

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Conservation Department Facilities
Facility Item Name Count Comments
Boat Ramp - Lake - Concrete Buffalo Bill Lake   
Boat Ramp - Lake - Concrete Pony Express Lake   
Boat Ramp - Lake - Other   2 gravel ramps on Pony Express Lake.  
Boats for Rent  20  Boats available from April 1 - October 1 - $5/day; Concrete boat ramp - Pony Express Lake Boaters are responsible for providing equipment needed to comply with Missouri State boating laws. Navigation lights are required between sunset and sunrise. An approved flotation device is required for each person in a boat. Consult the Missouri Boating Laws and Responsibilities Manual for details.  
Camping Area - Individual Campsites    
Dock - FishingaccessiblePony Express Lake   
Dock - FishingaccessibleBuffalo Bill Lake   
Fish Cleaning Station Pony Express Lake  Located at the end of fishing jetty.  
Fishing Jetty/Platformaccessible  1 ADA  
Other Wave Reduction Jetty  West of concrete boat ramp to Pony Express Lake.  
Parking Lotaccessible 24  4 ADA  
Picnic Table  24   
Privy/Restroomaccessible  4 ADA  
Viewing Deck/Toweraccessible  Lakesite Road at wetland  

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Feature Item Name Count Size Comments
Fishing Lake or Pond Pony Express Lake 240.00 acres Boats - No wake. 
Fishing Lake or Pond Buffalo Bill Lake 45.00 acres Boats - Electric motors only. 
Fishing Lake or Pond  27.10 acres  
Fishing Lake or Pond Outpost Lake 4.30 acres  
Fishless Pond  67 37.00 acres See map  

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Land Cover Types
Land Type Acres Comments
Crop Land 460.00  
Grassland (non-prairie) 1222.00  
Wetland 15.00  
Lakes/Ponds 353.00  
Forest and Woodland 500.00  
Old Field 740.00  
Total Area Acres:3290.11 

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Designated Trails
Trail Name Trail Type Length
East hiking trail (Easy) Hiking (Non-Interpretive) 0.50 
West hiking trail (Easy) Hiking (Non-Interpretive) 1.00 

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Shooting Range General Information

This area has no shooting ranges.

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