10 Best State Parks in Nebraska

The beauty of state parks makes them great places for family reunions, get-togethers, family days, or road trips. Most state parks offer lodging areas for campers to stay the night as well as designated areas for picnicking, hiking, and swimming. Enjoy the natural beauty of Nebraska’s landscape. Here are the best state parks. 

Chadron State Park, Chadron, NE

It’s right to start with Chadron State Park, for its Nebraska’s first state park, founded in 1921. Located near Nebraska’s Pine Ridge, this park has more than 100 miles of trails for bikers and hikers alike. It also offers a plethora of other activities such as paddle boating, archery, tennis, sand volleyball, horseshoes, and more.

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Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, Ashland, NE

Home of an aquatic center and indoor playground, Eugene T. Mahoney State Park also hosts the Peter Kiewit Lodge, which offers 40 guest rooms. It’s located midway between Omaha and Lincoln, so it’s a nice getaway from city life without traveling thousands of miles.

Fort Robinson State Park, Crawford, NE

Fort Robinson State Park may just take the cake. There’s more than 22,000 acres of scenic landscape at this state park. Before becoming a state park, Fort Robinson was a fort in the early days of the Old West until after World War II. History buffs—this may be the state park for you.

Indian Cave State Park, Shubert, NE

Bordering the Missouri River, Indian Cave State Park offers just that, a large sandstone cave. Visit the cave to view what are thought to be prehistoric Native American petroglyphs found on the cave’s walls. There’s also a restored schoolhouse and general store from St. Deroin, an old river town. 

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Niobrara State Park, Niobrara, NE

Go RV camping, tent camping, or rent out a cabin at Niobrara State Park. If you’re into buffalo cookouts—definitely visit during the summer. As an attraction the park hosts a buffalo cookout with cowboy poets and storytellers for entertainment on Saturdays throughout the summer months. 

Platte River State Park, Louisville, NE

Go vintage or stay modern at Platte River State Park. The lodging there is comprised of charming vintage cabins that have housed campers throughout the years, and also of new glamping cabins that offer a nature-immersive experience. If camping isn’t your thing, visit for the day and explore the miles of nature trails the park has to offer.

Ponca State Park, Ponca, NE

Says the park’s website, Ponca State Park is one of the most-visited state parks in Nebraska. Perhaps it’s because of all of the seasonal activities the park hosts throughout the year. They include haunted haystack rides, guided bird tours in the spring, a “Fruitcake Fling” each winter, and naturalist events during the summer. 

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Smith Falls State Park, Valentine, NE

Smith Falls State Park lives up to its moniker. Home to Smith Falls, Nebraska’s highest waterfall, this park is named after Frederic Smith. He filed the first homestead patent on the land where the falls reside. Naturally, popular activities at this state park are canoeing, kayaking, and floating on the waters.

Arbor Lodge State Historical Park, Nebraska City, NE

Switching gears a bit, Nebraska also offers state historical parks. This one began as a four-room frame house in 1855, and now it’s host to 52 rooms -- after extensive remodeling. J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day, lived in this estate. The estate is open year-round and doesn’t require a park permit to enter.

Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park, North Platte, NE

I bet you can guess who’s ranch lies at this historical park—showman scout William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. The house and barn on the property have been restored and filled with memorabilia and souvenirs of Buffalo Bill. There’s an adjoining area—Buffalo Bill Ranch State Recreation Area—where visitors can camp out, fish, rent kayaks and canoes, and do a host of other activities.

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822 15th Street, Columbus, NE
History:The Society was formed on June 2, 1941 when about 50 Platte County farmers and businessmen met. Gifts of both land and money had been offer... Read More
221 East 5th Street, North Platte, NE
The monument is located in Iron Horse Park at a point where Interstate 80 crosses U.S. Highway 83 in North Platte, Nebraska. This prominent lo... Read More
201 S 7th St, Fort Calhoun, NE
The first U.S. military post west of the Missouri River, Fort Atkinson was established in 1820 on recommendation of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.... Read More
2103 Stolley Park Road West, Grand Island, NE
Playground Equipment: The park offers numerous playground areas with equipment for all children.Fitness Trail: There is a hard surfaced drive throu... Read More
7425 S US Hwy 281, Doniphan, NE
Crystal Lake Recreation Area, located 2 miles north and 1/2 mile west of Ayr, NE, is a 33 acre park adjacent to the Little Blue River and features ... Read More
S 108th road, Beatrice, NE
Rockford State Recreation Area consists of approximately 300 land acres around a 150-acre lake. The area offers boating, fishing, picnicking, swimm... Read More
40611 Road 728, Cambridge, NE
Located in a peaceful and scenic spot, Medicine Creek is a great hidden outdoor getaway. Four two-bedroom fully furnished lakeside modern cabins ar... Read More
15951 Highway 385, Chadron, NE
Nebraska’s first state park, Chadron State Park was founded in 1921 and is nestled among the distinctive buttes and canyons of Nebraska&rsquo... Read More
9.5 mi. N. on asphalt road, Crawford, NE
Box Butte Reservoir SRA encompasses 2,212 acres on the west edge of the Sandhills, 9 miles north of Hemingford. It includes a 1,600-acre lake. The ... Read More
Highway 20, Harrison, NE
Western Nebraska's premier state park, Fort Robinson, west of Crawford, has it all -- with more than 22,000 acres of exquisite Pine Ridge scenery, ... Read More
1 East Park Drive 25A, Elwood, NE
Excellent camping, fishing and water sports are hallmarks of this popular area, just 10 miles south of Lexington. This recreation area packs a lot ... Read More
627 County Road 29, Tekamah, NE
Summit Lake State Recreation Area is a 190-acre lake, surrounded by 345 acres of land. The area offers fishing, hiking, hunting, swimming and campi... Read More
Morrill County, Bridgeport, NE
Those looking for shady campsites and sandy beaches will enjoy a visit to Bridgeport State Recreation Area, a relatively small but popular spot for... Read More
Lincoln Hwy, Kimball, NE
With 917 acres of land and a 270-acre lake, Oliver Lake State Recreation Area is the only water based recreational facility in the southwest Panhan... Read More
2625 Lowell Rd, Gibbon, NE
Windmill State Recreation area is one of the jewels of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission in the state’s unique chain of lakes along Inte... Read More
7425 U.S. 281, Doniphan, NE
Just off Interstate 80 by Grand Island, Mormon Island State Recreation Area is a convenient place for outdoor fun. Mormon Island has handicap-acces... Read More
3019 Apple Street, Lincoln, NE
Wagon Train State Recreation Area comprises 746 acres of land and a 315-acre lake two miles east of Hickman. The area offers boating, fishing, picn... Read More
1020 V Road, Kearney, NE
Fort Kearny State Recreation Area offers 186 acres dotted with sandpit lakes. In the spring, the world’s largest concentration of sandhill cr... Read More
3900 NorthWest 105th, Lincoln, NE
Pawnee State Recreation Area features 2,544 acres, 740 of which are water acres. Diverse recreation opportunities on this area draw anglers, boater... Read More
14421 346th Street, Louisville, NE
This facility offers a wide range of activities and lodging choices, while keeping costs to a minimum. The park sits about halfway between the sta... Read More
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