National Park Spotlight: Top Federal Lands in Nebraska

August 6, 2010
Chimney Rock, Nebraska

Chimney Rock, Nebraska
Photo by: Gregory Runyan (Stock Exchange)

Good morning, campers!

AllCampgrounds is taking it to the next level today, looking at some of the best and brightest in national parks, monuments, trails, and rivers throughout Nebraska.

Being right at the heart of the journey for tens of thousands of pioneers and homesteaders in America’s wild frontier history, Nebraska is filled with historic trails and other signs of those thrilling, but dangerous adventures.

Not all campsites are convenient to these landmarks, and not all of them offer overnight options – so we’ve decided to delve a little deeper and give you as many different sites to check out as we can. As we know, there are always camp grounds somewhere, and finding ‘em is worth it!

Agate Fossil Beds: Though there are no overnight facilities in this exceedingly remote monument, it deserves to be mentioned as one of the most unique and interesting of Nebraska’s attractions. A cherished native site since time immemorial, the Agate Fossil Beds are home to some of the most complete ancient mammal remains in the world, now preserved in the form of a world-class museum. Around the grounds, there are also hiking trails to enjoy that bring you into the Niobrara River Valley. Speaking of which …

Niobrara National Scenic River: If you want to go tent camping around the Agate Fossil Beds, then you need to know about Niobrara National Scenic River. This is, without exaggeration, one of the richest, most diverse, and most breathtaking rivers anywhere in the U.S., known for a stunning diversity of local wildlife. Tubing, canoeing, and kayaking are not to be missed, but be aware that the shore is checkered with privately owned land; be careful to use public facilities and areas whenever possible. Though most of the cabin and camping facilities around here are private, you can find 23 camp grounds at Smith Falls State Park; all campsites at Smith Falls are primitive tent camping sites.

Homestead National Monument of America: This monument commemorates the legendary transit of thousands of ambitious frontier families touched off by the Homestead Act of 1862, a federal proclamation that offered free land to whoever had the gumption to go forth and settle it. There are so many things to do around the Monument that its caretakers have broken things down in a page titled “How Much Time Do You Have?” The monument is found west of the town of Beatrice, which itself is some 40 miles south of Lincoln and 180 miles from Omaha. Chataugua Park Campground and Oak Aven Acres are some of the nearby camping options.

Scotts Bluff National Monument: With more than 3,000 acres of amazing rock formations and outcropping rising dramatically from an otherwise flat prairie, Scotts Bluff has been a trail marker for hundreds of years. Terrific hiking opportunities abound here, and you can drive to the summit for a view you’ll remember for a lifetime. There’s also a convenient Summit Shuttle, powered by biodiesel – and once you get there, the Overlook Trail and South Overlook Trail provide picturesque views of the badlands. The Oregon Trail Museum and Visitor Center is also found on-site. Not surprisingly, you’ll probably want to camp out! Check Visit Scotts Bluff for information. RV camping can be found at Robidoux RV Park in Gering, only a block or so from the Monument border. Robidoux is run by the local government and gives very favorable daily and weekly rates.

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