A beautiful state in the mid-west of the United States of America, Nebraska has some of the most beautiful national parks. Without wasting further time in the introduction, let’s do us all a favor and dive right into today’s topic, tackling the national parks in Nebraska.
We’re going to talk about 5 of the best national parks of Nebraska, and you’ll see that they’re wonderful, and in return for your getting yourself off of your couch, you’re going to be spending the time of your life, if you’re a natural man or woman, yourself.
Let’s dive in.
National Parks in Nebraska
1. Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
When you’re in Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, one of the best National Parks in Nebraska, you should visit the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument Visitor Center. It’s a must. Here you’d wind fossils that have been recreated into mounted skeletons; you’d find in-depth information about the area.
There are well-educated rangers who are there to aid you. You’d also find information about James Cook’s collection of Native American artifacts.
The James Cook collection takes up a lot of space in the visitor center, with all his collections over the years belonging to the Ogala Lakota tribe. The collection includes photographs, leather, clothing, moccasins, decorated war clubs, and many other things.
Overall, you’d be totally engaged for at least 30 minutes, if not more.
You have two trails, namely Daemonelix Trail and the Fossil Hills Trail, in one of Nebraska’s best National Parks.
The Daemonelix Trail is a one-mile trail at the end of the park; it offers visitors a grand tour through time as if you’re in a time machine. Over here, visitors get to see ancient dunes of sand and fossil grassland soils known as paleosols.
The Fossil Hills Trail, the other, is actually more accessible, being equipped with a wheelchair-accessible paved trail. Starting from the Visitor Center, the trail you’d be on crosses the Niobrara River, and it’s accompanying wetlands; it also passes through ecologically intact grass prairie, having both short and mixed-grass varieties.
It then loops around University and Carnegie Hills, so you’d have a pretty fun time here. It was here that James Cook discovered the fossilized bones.
Being one of the most famous National Parks in Nebraska, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument has way more history than I could mention here. Here’s a follow-up link to read up more if you’re interested: Agate Fossil Beds National Monument – What to See and Do
2. Homestead National Monument
Another famous national park in Nebraska, Homestead National Monument of America, is in southeastern Nebraska, approximately 40 miles to Lincoln’s south. So, this act was known as the Homestead Act, signed into law in 1826 by President Lincoln.
This act allowed private ownership of public land.
However, in 1936, the Homestead National Monument of America was established on land once Daniel Freeman claimed in January 1863. His descendants decided to sell it to the Department of the Interior to create the national monument.
Here, the Homestead Heritage Center contains things about agriculture, native tribes, the prairie ecosystem, and federal land policy.
Then there’s the Tallgrass Prairie park. This park includes 100 acres of the tallgrass prairie restored to approximate the identical ecosystem that once covered America’s central plains. This area was almost destroyed by plowing by the homesteaders.
This park now has about 2.7 miles of hiking trails, or about 4.3 kilometers, through the prairie and the woodlands surrounding Club Creek accessible via an all-terrain wheelchair for those who are disabled or for those who, as we say, “ain’t feelin’ it.”
The Palmer-Eppard Cabin in here is another sight to behold. It was built in 1867 by George William Palmer, using mixed hardwood, about 14 miles northeast of the monument. This was the abode of Palmer and his wife, along with his 10 children.
This cabin changed hands over the years and was finally donated to the park in 1950 and has been moved and subsequently restored several times in the years to come.
Another famous heritage site is the Freeman School. It was built with red brick and carved limestone. It was one of the longest-used schools in Nebraska. Many years after the school went out of service, the school was restored to appear in the 1870s.
3. Missouri National Recreational River
The Missouri National Recreational River is a National Recreational River on the border between Nebraska and South Dakota. To talk a little about the history of the place, archeologists have found tools, homes, religious and ceremonial objects of the people who lived there, and their generations lasted for around 10,00 years.
The River is one of the three historic places like the Oregon Trail or Santa Fe trails. It was actually a pathway for American Indians, trappers and traders, settlers, sea captains, and even Lewis and Clarke.
Along the river, there are but two major plant communities here. This forest, which is actually a floodplain forest, is inclusive of willow and cottonwood. The bluffs that are found here are covered by elm and oak. About the floodplain in one of the best national parks in Nebraska, you’d get to see a mixed forest accompanied by agricultural fields.
Wildlife is brimming here. Wildlife here includes grizzly bear, elk, mice, voles, bats, rats, and many more, like deer and ground squirrel. One of the most important here is the bald eagle, the national bird of the United States. Along with the bald eagle, there are another 250 identified species in this region.
As for what you’d be able to do over here, it is pretty interesting. There are many activities to keep you engaged in one of the best national parks in Nebraska. Fishing and hunting are some of the most popular activities here.
While they may be violent and not to everyone’s taste, you also have canoeing and kayaking, which are super adventurous and will leave you with a lifetime of memories. There are also ranger-guided excursions that you can do during the summer.
There are many parks and recreational areas to visit here, namely:
Goat Island, which is located downstream of Wynot. You could camp out here, do some hunting, and some other public recreational activities.
You also have Bow Creek Recreation Area, where you can do some same as above.
Mulberry Bend Overlook has a 3/4-mile hiking trail, which is very enjoyable.
Overall, being one of the best national parks in Nebraska, you’d definitely not regret giving this a place on your itinerary.
4. Scotts Bluff National Monument
Another one of the best national parks in Nebraska that you’d not want to miss. The Scotts Bluff National Monument is located to the west of the City of Gering in Nebraska’s western part.
This National Park Service does the valuable job of protecting over 3000 acres of historic overland trail that are only remnants today. Apart from that, mixed-grass prairie, badlands, and towering bluffs along with riparian areas along the North Platte River also get much-needed protection from the cruel hands of humanity.
It built the famous Oregon Trail Museum and Visitor Center at the bluff base, and it serves as a starting place for tourists who like to hike. The salient features that you’d get to see here are the multiple bluffs or the steep hills; it is, for this reason, this is called one of the most famous national parks in Nebraska.
The most prominent one is the Scotts Bluff, which gives its name to the national monument. It rises to 244 m in its highest points. Along with that, you could also find here, five-rock formations and they are called Dome Rock, Saddle Rock, Sentinel Rock, Crown Rock, and Sentinel Rock. Being one of the best national parks in Nebraska, over 128,000 tourists come here every year.
There are beautiful trails that you could take here.
The North Overlook Trail is a 0.8 km trail, which is paved, and it starts from the summit parking lot, and it overlooks the North Platte River Valley, which offers serene views. If hikers want, they can travel up to the highest point, which is 1420 m above sea level.
Then there’s the South Overlook Trail, which 0.1 km less than the previous one, and as the name suggests, it leaves towards the south.
The Saddle Rock Trail is another trail that leads to the previously mentioned summit parking lot.
Apart from these trails, there is a Bike Path available to people who are not hikers. It goes from the Visitor Center to the eastern boundary of the park.
5. Niobrara National Scenic River
Niobrara National Scenic River is another one of the most famous national parks in Nebraska that encompasses a river, namely the Niobrara River, evidently.
This river has a total length of 76 miles and runs along with four counties in the state of Nebraska; Cherry, Brown, Keya Paha, and Rock. It was designated as a national scenic river in 1991, with the aim being to protect and preserve the valuable and outstandingly remarkable river and its surrounding areas.
High-quality water resources, fish, and wildlife all form a part of the initiative to be protected, even the fossil resources found within and near the river.
Niobrara is considered being an excellent example of a Great Plains river. The Niobrara is home to over 500 plant species, which is incredible.
These species include birch, ponderosa pine, and also rare hybrid aspen. Speaking of animals, mule deer, mink, beaver, river otter, pronghorn, and bison can be found in this area. They are all protected species in this area, with over 300 bison calling this their home.
The Niobrara River has been modified and developed to offer recreational activities and facilities for tourists who flock to this place, seeing how this is one of Nebraska’s most famous national parks.
With a headcount of approximately 55,000 every year, there are plenty of things to do here to keep you busy and make you feel relaxed and happy. Canoeing remains one of the most popular activities among the tourists in one of Nebraska’s most famous national parks, and in fact, Niobrara is one of the top 10 places to offer such a sport.
So, there you have it, folks, a list of some of the best national parks in Nebraska. Nebraska’s national parks are trendy because they take people away from the hustle and bustle of modern life, find a resting spot among the trees and grasslands, and sit quietly down, forgetting about their worries for a second.
If you want to read some about Montana’s national parks, I’d recommend this article for you: A Wonderful Guide to Montana National Parks.