Where to Camp in the Cornhusker State
Nebraska has long been a colonial and agricultural hub for the United States. Its great, treeless plains lend themselves to farming and grazing, and its many creeks and rivers keep the land moist and fertile.
Nebraska is also home to many national monuments, state parks, lakes and campgrounds that make it a great place to camp on a summer weekend. Here are our favorite places to camp in Nebraska.
1. Chadron State Park – Chadron
Located in the beautiful Pine Ridge of NW Nebraska. Campers will enjoy their stay at Chadron at the modern campground, complete with electrical hookups, showers, laundry, picnic tables, grills, a playground for the kids and a dump station. Learn more.
2. Fremont Lakes State Recreation Area – Ames
One of eastern Nebraska’s most popular recreation areas, Fremont has about 40 land acres and nearly 300 water acres in 20 sandpit lakes. Located three miles west of Fremont, this is a favorite area with campers, picnickers and water enthusiasts – from boating to fishing to water skiing. The swimming beach is unsupervised, and there is a PWC area, as well as a handicap accessible fishing pier. Learn more.
3. Johnson Lake State Recreation Area – Elwood
The town of Kasilof is located fifteen miles south of Soldotna along the Sterling Highway on the Kenai Peninsula. It is a popular summer recreational destination. Camping, wildlife viewing, scenic views, and fishing at the Kasilof River and at Johnson Lake are some of the reasons why. Learn more.
4. Enders Reservoir – Enders
Enders Reservoir State Recreation Area, one of four areas known collectively as the Southwest Reservoirs, is a combination of recreational and wildlife lands, with the additional dedication of a portion of the area as a wildlife refuge in the fall and winter. Because of its refuge status, the recreational facilities are not as extensively developed as those at the other three lakes in the complex. Including the lake, the entire area encompasses 5,700 acres. Of the 4,000 acres of land, the Enders Wildlife Refuge covers 2,146 acres on the western reaches of the lake. Enders is a good escape for the outdoor enthusiast who wants to enjoy the bounties of nature in a peaceful, uncrowded setting. Learn more.
5. Eugene T. Mahoney State Park
This modern state park is the perfect year round destination for a family escape. Families can visit the aquatic center and indoor playground, explore the park’s hiking and biking trails, climb the observation tower and, when the weather turns cold, enjoy sledding and ice skating. The jewel of the park is Peter Kiewit Lodge, which offers 40 guest rooms, most with balconies that offer a stunning view of the Platte River valley. Learn more.
6. Wagontrain Lake – Hickman
Train Lake, NE, is a State Recreation Area located two miles east of Hickman. This 315-acre lake has a boat ramp and a dog training area. Camping facilities at this site include 28 camp pads with electrical hook-ups, primitive campsites, a playground, three picnic areas, and a swim beach. Wagon Train allows boating under 5 mph. A State Park Permit is required for entry. Learn more.
7. Niobrara State Park – Niobrara
Summary Situated at the confluence of the Niobrara and Missouri rivers on Nebraska’s northeastern border, Niobrara State Park offers visitors an opportunity to sample a wide range of outdoor experiences. Cabins, camping from RVs to tents, picnicking, swimming pool, buffalo cookouts, boat ramps nearby, horseback trail rides, hiking, fishing, history or communing with Mother Nature are all available at this exceptional state park. Learn more.
8. Fort Kearny State Recreation Area – Kearney
Fort Kearny SRA offers 186 acres dotted with sandpit lakes. In the spring, the world’s largest concentration of sandhill cranes and waterfowl gathers in the central Platte River valley. Facilities include electrical and primitive camp pads, showers, dump station, modern restrooms, water at the dump station, picnic tables, grills, shelters, wheelchair-accessible fishing pier, nature trail, non power boating and hike-bike trail. Learn more.
9. Fort Robinson State Park – Crawford
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, compelling old west history, exceptional lodging, loads of fun-time activities, scenic camping and the park’s own buffalo and longhorn herds. Learn more.
10. Windmill State Recreation Area – Gibbon
Windmill State Recreation Area is one of two highly developed areas operated by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission in the state’s unique “chain of lakes” along Interstate 80. Situated at the Gibbon Interchange, between Kearney and Grand Island, It was once a stopping spot for early-day travelers. It still serves travelers today with modern camping facilities, several man-made lakes, and a fascinating assortment of antique windmills. Learn more.
Do you have a favorite camping spot in Nebraska that wasn’t included on this list? Let us know in the comments!
And be sure to check out the rest of our Best Campgrounds in the US series.