Chadron State Park (outdoornebraska.gov), Nebraska’s first state park, draws visitors to northwest Nebraska with its rugged beauty and historic sites. Campers set up amid pine forests and bluffs and explore trails. The nearby Museum of the Fur Trade (furtrade.org) stands on the site of an 1837 trading post and tells the story of the rugged trappers, traders and Native Americans who once worked the wilderness of the West.
Chadron State Park. Photo by D. Curran.
Nearby in Crawford is Fort Robinson State Park (outdoornebraska.gov), one of the jewels of western Nebraska. The sprawling property still includes buildings of the 19th-century cavalry fort that played a huge role in Western history (famed Lakota leader Crazy Horse died here) and World War II, when cavalry horses were trained here. Guests camp on the grounds or stay in motel-style rooms in the former Army buildings.
Fort Robinson State Park
For another unusual stay, try sleeping in one of 10 restored Union Pacific cabooses at Two Rivers State Recreation Area (outdoornebraska.gov) west of Omaha. Along with a brag-worthy weekend experience, it’s a fitting way to commemorate the state’s proud railroad heritage. For another unique overnight, campers at Platte River State Park (outdoornebraska.gov) between Lincoln and Omaha can spread their sleeping bags in Native American tepees with wood floors or choose modern camping cabins.
Other notable parks with camping cabins include Ponca State Park (outdoornebraska.gov) and Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area (outdoornebraska.gov) in the northeast part of the state, and Medicine Creek Reservoir (outdoornebraska.gov) in south-central Nebraska. The state’s most luxurious camping options wait at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park (outdoornebraska.gov) near I-80 between Lincoln and Omaha. Along with plenty of tent and RV sites, the park includes a lodge, numerous cabins, a water park and a theater.
Not the traditional outdoorsy type? Sip wine and dine on flatbread pizzas during a stay at Slattery Vintage Estates (svevineyards.com) in Nehawka, 35 miles south of Omaha. Guests sleep in room-size tents with cozy beds and enjoy add-ons like s’mores and a hot breakfast.