RV Travel with Kids

Nebraska State Parks

There are 12 Nebraska state parks spread across the state surrounded by nearly 70 wildlife management areas. You can enjoy all of the standard outdoor adventures in these parks, from fishing and boating to hiking and horseback riding.

You may also want to take your family to the two national forests or the one national historic site located in Nebraska. If you are driving through or live in the state, these parks are perfect for stretching your legs, getting in a bit of exercise, or just relaxing with your family.


Nebraska State Parks

Arbor Lodge State Park

nebraska-state-parks; Chief Crazy Horse By uncredited ([1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Nebraska City’s Arbor Lodge is a bit different than most of Nebraska's state parks because its attractions are not limited to outdoor amusements. The 50+ room lodge in the park was the home of the founder of Arbor Day, J. Sterling Morton. You can now tour this magnificent home and the carriage house full of authentic carriages and wagons. You can also explore the log house that was built in 1890 and the elaborate Italian gardens. The half-mile Tree Trail is perfect for romantic strolls or educational walks with the family. The trees are identified and there are benches in the shade if you need to take a rest. The best time to visit is in December when the mansion hosts the “Twelve Rooms of Christmas” exhibition.

Arbor Lodge State Park

Chadron State Park
Located within the Nebraska National Forest, this is one of the most welcoming Nebraska state parks. The grounds feature 70 camper pads complete with electrical hookup and more than 20 two-bedroom cabins that can be rented mid-April through mid-November. There are trails for hiking and biking, with some easy trails suitable for children and families. Make sure to take a swim in the pool and head out for an afternoon of fishing with colorful leaves falling off the trees in fall.

Chadron State Park

Fort Kearney State Park
If you are near Newark, Nebraska and are in search of shaded, well cared for campgrounds, Fort Kearney is one of the best Nebraska state parks in the area. Trees shade most of the camp areas, and there are modern showers and other conveniences available to all visitors. Slip into the cottonwood trees to explore the trails or simply enjoy a picnic while watching for birds and other wildlife. Camping is the biggest attraction for this Nebraska state park. Visit the nearby Fort Kearney Recreation Area for additional entertainment and recreation opportunities.

Fort Kearney State Park

Fort Robinson State Park
Head west of Crawford to find this elaborate state park covered with pine trees and buffalo. This park marks the location of an active outpost in the 1800s, and is well known as the area where Sioux Indian Chief Crazy Horse was killed in battle. Today, the park is the home of fully stocked cabins and many modern campsites complete with dump station, showers, and picnic areas. On-site horse stalls are also available for those who wish to enjoy the park on horseback.

Fort Robinson State Park

Niobrara State Park
This is one of Nebraska’s most beautiful state parks, and it can be found right at the border in the northwest. Besides the standard hiking, boating, and horseback trail riding, you can head out for a tour of the Missouri River on raft. The park is also a birdwatcher’s paradise. Campsites are available for those pitching tents as well as those pulling in with an RV. Wild turkeys, deer, and other wildlife make their presence known, so prepare your children to be greeted with nature. Don’t forget the camera because the Niobrara River and the Missouri River are simply breathtaking.

Niobrara State Park

Ponca State Park
What did wild rivers look like before man stepped in to tame them with channels and reservoirs? You will know after visiting this state park in the northwestern region of Nebraska. The park lies along a specific area of the Missouri River that has not been misdirected or changed in any way by man. If you are staying in or passing through Ponca, Nebraska, make sure to take a detour to immerse yourself in views of this river. You may even hear the howl of coyote in the woods if you visit in the evening.

Ponca State Park

Victoria Springs State Park
This is one of the best Nebraska state parks for extended stays. The wooded areas offer all of your standard outdoor amusements from hiking to biking. The natural springs are intoxicating and serve as the perfect backdrop for pictures. These springs were once sourced for bottled spring water, but today the area is used more for camping, picnicking, and family fun. Some cabins are available for rent and there are camping areas complete with a dump site, showers, and restrooms. Make sure to head out on the water by paddleboat before you leave.

Victoria Springs State Park

Nebraska National Forests and Historical Sites

nebraska-state-parks; Chimney Rock By Gregory Runyan

Chimney Rock National Historic Site
Between 1812 and 1866, hundreds of thousands of people ventured along the Oregon-California trail and went right past Chimney Rock. This enormous rock formation stands nearly 300 feet above the ground and is located in Morrill County in the western portion of the state. It was a landmark on the Oregon Trail, and today is the biggest representation of the trail still in existence. This is a site that all children should see for educational purposes, but it is also a site that fascinates adults.

Chimney Rock National Historic Site

Nebraska National Forest
This national forest stretches out for nearly 142,000 acres and inhabits land in four different counties: Thomas, Dawes, Blain and Sioux. The Dismal River is waiting for you! This river is tucked within the forest and is perfect for boating and tubing. There are also trails winding through the forest so you can hike, bike, or take a journey on horseback. The camp grounds offer a swimming pool, so this is an excellent place to spend a weekend or longer while on family vacation.

Nebraska National Forest

Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest
Head southwest of Valentine to find this unique national forest. Though it is classified as a forest, the majority of the park is prairie land. Actual forest trees are limited to about 5,000 acres, while the remaining 110,000 acres are covered in sandhill prairie land. This makes the forest the perfect destination for hunters. Deer hunting is limited, but the park does permit fowl and bird hunting as well. Bird watchers will also find this forest entertaining. Nearby Merritt Reservoir is available for those who want to spend time out on the water, and the campgrounds are open year round. The forest does feature a one-mile looped hiking trail.

Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest


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Nebraska Pages

  • Fun Facts About Nebraska
  • Top 10 Nebraska Places to Visit
  • Tell Us Your Favorite Nebraska Attractions
  • Nebraska State Parks
  • Treasure Hunting in Nebraska
  • Nebraska Travel Books
  • Nebraska Campground Reviews
  • Nebraska as an RV Domicile

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