Cookouts, classic rock, water sports, sunshine — when it’s summertime in Nebraska, it’s time to get outdoors. The Cornhusker state lays claim to dozens of high quality, well-maintained state parks that provide perfect refuge from the suburban and inner city heat. Whether you’re a fishing enthusiast, an avid hunter, or a hiking and biking buff, you’ve got options. As far as accommodations go, Nebraska has everything from primitive sites to RV communities and deluxe lodge cabins. If you’re yet to fully take advantage of the outdoors in Nebraska, check out our list of the best camping spots in the state.
Platte River State Park
One of the closest and most beautiful state parks to Omaha, Platte River is a great place to immerse yourself in nature and quickly get away from the chaos of everyday life. There’s waterfalls, horseback trail rides, paddle boarding on the lake, and educational programs for kids and adults alike. Accommodations in Platte River are primarily of the plush cabin variety — choose from 21 modern cabins with fully equipped kitchens, and 31 camper cabins with fire grates for a bit more of a DIY experience.
Fremont Lakes Recreation Area
If the idea of lounging lakeside and toying around with water sports sounds appealing, head to Fremont Lakes, eastern Nebraska’s most popular camping spot. With over 40 acres of land and 300 acres of water, there’s plenty of room for picnics, boating, water skiing, and relaxing with friends and family. With over 400 campsites with electrical outlets, this is a big spot among the RV community. To book a place, head over to the government website here.
Chadron State Park
At an altitude of 5,000 feet and with the backdrop of the Pine Ridge rock formations, Chadron State Park boasts one of the few mountain terrains in the state of Nebraska. The park offers plenty of modern campgrounds with electrical hookups, showers, laundry, picnic tables, and playground areas. If you’re able to splurge, there are a 22 two-bedroom cabins in the park as well. Because Chadron is one of the most popular in the state, rooms get booked pretty quickly, so try to make your plans in advance.
Eugene T. Mahoney State Park
This gem is hailed as a modern year-round park located just 30 miles southwest of Omaha. During the summer months, there are plenty of forested hiking and biking trails, as well as a climb to an observation tower with a great view. During the winter, take advantage of the indoor playground for kids, the aquatic center, and facilities for sledding and ice skating. There are options for camping, but consider staying in the Peter Kiewit Lodge, which has 40 rooms with balconies and views of the Platte River Valley.
Niobrara State Park
Situated at the confluence of the Niobrara and Missouri rivers, this state park is an expansive green landscape of rivers, lakes, and thriving wildlife. Popular activities at Niobrara include hunting, fishing, holiday cookouts, and guided horseback tours. Be sure to check out the decommissioned railroad bridge, and be on the lookout for the white-tailed deer that are known to roam about the region. Remember to check availability for campsites and cabins before setting off.