In the very heart of America lies Nebraska, an often-underrated state filled with possibilities. Vast, flat, endless prairies cover most of the state, but that doesn’t mean camping in Nebraska is lacking whatsoever. To the contrary, this “nice” state offers a wealth of activities–some of which you might not expect to find in a Midwestern state. After finding camping in Nebraska, you can also kayak and canoe, jet ski and windsurf, fish and hike.
Some of Nebraska’s most popular camping spots can be found near Lake McConaughy. As the largest reservoir in the state, this lake is a state recreation area that attracts thousands of visitors each year. Beautiful sand beaches line its shores, while the calm water invites you to come kayaking, jet skiing, and even scuba diving. In terms of camping in Nebraska, it doesn’t get much better than Lake McConaughy. Simply pitch your tent right on the beach and enjoy.
Nebraska also has its fair share of historic, archaeological, pioneer, and Native American sites. Consider camping near Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park or Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, both locations where you can easily pick up shark teeth and ancient fossils.
Another unbeatable attractions is Scotts Bluff National Monument. Home to marvelous rock formations high above the Platte River, the landmark is an important monument to Native Americans and settlers who have crossed the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails. After appreciating the beauty of Scotts Bluff, make your way to Chimney Rock in Bayard. This remarkable rock spire is one of Nebraska’s main natural attractions and historical sites, having played an important role in both Native American and pioneering history.
There is no shortage of activities to enjoy in Nebraska. Lace up your boots for a hike at the Pine Ridge National Recreation Area, go boating on the beautiful Niobrara River, or drive the highlight-filled Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway. Camping in Nebraska is an experience different from any other, thanks to small crowds and big views.
Cool campground with lots of playground equipment, easy access to walking and bike paths and right next to Stuhr Museum which is well worth a trip!
Beautiful campground! Nice boat ramp but can be tricky to load if windy. Book in advance as this site is very popular and always full!
Not far off the road in Kimball, NE is a lake with nice large flat spaces. Huge old trees provide shade and we have excellent cell on both our Verizon and at&t networks. Good fishing and a sand swimming beach
It is dry camping with vault toilets and a dump. Actually free, but with a suggested donation. 14 day limit.
Sleepy Sunflower RV Park is a neat place to stop over. Although it is right next to the interstate which is noisy, it has a cute western feel. It has a little area they call the town square wtt a wagon and carriage. It has tables with umbrellas, an area to BBQ, fire pit and outdoor kitchen. There is a office/market, free WiFi, playground, and a small pet run. The 28 RV sites are on rock, with full hook-ups, picnic table and some have fire pits. The 8 tent areas have grass with sand area for the tent to sit on, there are also 2 Tee-pees to rent. The bathrooms are extremely clean, as is the campground in whole. We did not have a reservation and showed up after hours hoping we could get in. It was nice that there was a place to check in and pay after hours. The office and campground was decorated nicely and owners (DuPeire family)live on site. There is a book and puzzle exchange, recycle bins and access codes for security.
Spent a night here by the water and experienced a beautiful sunset. Its a perfect place to camp for a night or kayak for an afternoon. Got lucky enough to have the entire place to myself. Really relaxed place. Perfect for tent camping and a water view.
Eugene T. Mahoney State Park in Nebraska is on the Platte River off Interstate 80 about halfway between Omaha and Lincoln. I will preface the review stating that the review is receiving four stars primarily because of the amenities at the park. The campgrounds themselves are fairly basic. There are areas to tent and park your RV within the state park. The RV campground has about a dozen full hookup sites and the rest of the campsites have electric hookups. There is not much room between the sites, so you do feel that you are stacked on top of the other campers. There is a wait list for the campgrounds much of the year. We were able to score a walk-up thankfully. The site does have water fill stations and a dump station. Their shower house is also decent enough.
But, as I said you are not coming here to hangout in the campground. There is something for everyone at this state park. They have hiking on paved and un-paved trails, which we utilized both. There is an activities center for kids to make different arts and crafts. They have horseback riding, a theater, paddle boating, parks, minature golf, etc. During the summer you can have fun at the big water park they have on site. They also have cabins and lodge rooms available for rent. The cabins book quickly, and can get pricey at around upwards of $400 a night during their peak season for one of the newer cabins. The lodge houses a decent restaurant with some great views of the Platte River.
At the main activities area they have a massive indoor play area for kids. This building also houses their new and extremely fun 40ft. climbing walls. Outside this building during the winter they have a covered ice rink and they also produce their own snow for the sledding hill. All-in-all it is a nice place with plenty to do onsite.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt I occasionally get to test products. While out at the state park we got the opportunity to test out Banner & Oak hats. https://bannerandoak.com/
My boys and really appreciate good hats. We found the Banner & Oak brand hats to be really exception hats.
The hats my sons wore were the Banner & Oak Eagle and the Banner & Oak Sierra. These two hats were made in the United States. I wore the Banner & Oak Switchback which was not produced in the United States.
All three hats are really quality hats. The stitching is tight around the sweatbands and the bill, which is usually a sign the hat will last a long time.
The mesh used for the back of the hat appears to be an older heavier duty mesh. This mesh reminds me of the mesh found in older hats, or the hats of my youth. I still have a couple of these hats, so this is another good sign of lasting quality.
The overall designs of all three hats are really just cool. They look cool and they feel cool, and I am really surprised by how much I like the flat billed hat, since I usually cannot stand them. The boys and I are really impressed with the construction and feel of the Banner & Oak hats!
Ranger Review: Red Ledge Free Rein Rain Jacket at Lincoln Air Park Campground
Having downtown Lincoln about 20 minutes away from Lincoln Air Park means that there is a lot to do and go see close by. Being a SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) member means that when you go to an event at Lincoln Air Park, you can camp on site.
This isn’t your typical campground by any means. This is a huge paved area of the airport where the SCCA hosts autocross races. This means that you must bring all your camping gear with you. It is typically motor homes and RVs that stay on the site, but a few brave people pack a tent and set it up on the concrete pad.
There are little to no amenities on-site so you need to be prepared. There are port-a-potties but no drinking water available. If you do need water or septic tanks serviced, there is a $50 fee to have a company come out and fill or empty those in your RV.
The quiet hours on-site are from 10PM to 6AM and the rest of the day it is loud. There are cars running the autocross course and the occasional plane takes off on the adjacent runway. Like I said, this isn’t your typical campground, but it is very nice to be able to stay on-site while racing.
Being on-site is great as you get to socialize with other competitors after the days events and many times the SCCA will sponsor a dinner for the drivers after an event.
What is great about this area is the Haymarket in downtown Lincoln. It is worth the short 15 to 20 minute drive to experience all the great restaurants and activities they hold in this beautiful downtown setting. You can find out more at https://lincolnhaymarket.org/.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I sometimes get to test out various camping gear. At the Lincoln Air Park I tested out the Red Ledge Free Rein rain jacket. This is the perfect spot to put the rain jacket to the test, as it always seems to rain a couple times during my stays in Lincoln.
This is the nicest rain coat I have ever owned. I'm used to the heavy ones that do not breathe at all. I was surprised at how well made this Red Ledge rain jacket is. The rain jacket is a good material thickness for the cooler rainy days, but I also don't think it is too hot when it gets muggy out during the rain. This jacket has pit zippers which open up a huge area to let you get some fresh air in and the hot air out.
I find these a must now that I've worn a rain jacket with venting areas. This just makes you so much more comfortable. I was also able to keep these completely open during the rain and I never got wet.
I also really like the hood on this rain jacket. Most rain jackets have a hood but it is always in your face and if you turn your head it gets in the way. The hood has a shock cord running through it that can be tightened, above your ears where a baseball cap is worn, and it keeps the hood in place. This is great and I found it to be very comfortable.
I am 5'10" and 154 lbs. I read a review that said the rain jacket runs a little small so I ordered a large which is a size up from my normal jackets. I found this to be just about perfect. The back is longer than the front of this jacket, which I like for using on a bicycle and the sleeves were just about an inch or two long which is great for reaching for the handlebars on the bike. I would recommend one size up from your normal size as it also allows you to put another layer on underneath if you need to in colder weather.
Another bonus is the great colors this jacket comes in. I like the bright colors offered as compared to many other rain jackets that seem to be black, or other dark colors.
See http://redledge.com/collections/free-rein/products/mens-free-rein-jacket to see more about the rain jacket!
Lake Wanahoo is a fairly new lake in Saunders county Nebraska. The lake is part of the local NRD and was originally managed by the state parks department. You used to be able to use your state park permit to gain entry, but now you need to either buy a day pass or a yearly pass from the NRD.
There are plenty of places to camp here including gravel pads and grass pads for RV’s. While most people seem to prefer the gravel pads closer to the lake, we actually prefer grass pads because they are 2-3 larger, so you have more room to setup.
The tent camping area is huge and there always seems to be plenty of availability. We were the only tent in the entire area. The tiered tent area allows you to have a great view of the lake from wherever you setup. All RV and tent spots have picnic tables and fire rings. Unfortunately when the lake and campground were built they planted saplings, so during the hot months there is no shade to be found.
The is still plenty to do at the lake from getting the fishing boat out, using their three wide boat ramp or fishing from the shore using bank or using a jetty. There is a gravel trail that goes all the way around the lake, which provides about a three mile loop. The trail also leads down into the town of Wahoo. There are two large play areas for kids. One is in the campground and one is across the lake in the day use area.
No matter where you go you are not far from a restroom. There are nice clean vault toilets available all around the lake. There is also a large bathroom/shower house in the campground. The shower house does have a change machine on the outside of the build to get change for the showers. These are kept very clean and tidy.
When pulling your RV out here the water fill is in an awkward spot in a parking lot of the campground. To get to the dump station you have to leave the campground, get on the highway and drive to the opposite side of the lake to the day use area. These were just installed a couple years ago. They are nice and level, but just add a bit of driving to get to them.
All-in-all this is a nice place and in a few more years of tree growth, it could be even better!
Nebraska is abounding with recreation areas many within a reasonable distance of the main highway running across the state. But War Axe, a much smaller area offers immediate access to fishing and fun within only 30 seconds of the highway!!
I visited this area and quickly was surprised by how such a small location could have such a great opportunity for someone like myself to enjoy a quiet day at a small lake. Despite being so close to the highway, the location is quiet and calm, a perfect way to spend a day or up to 10 days.
There isn't much to say about this site that is negative, the grass is a plush green and backs up to a corn field, so iconically Nebraska!! The site is small and only caters to a handful of campers at $10 per site. While primitive there is a flush toilet with running water making it feel not quite as primitive as other sites along the same stretch. Lush trees shade the camping zones and a small boat launch offers those stopping in. the opportunity to get in the water or enjoy the small shoreline.
One thing to be said for any recreation area in Nebraska is a friendly reminder that you will need an access pass to stay here or even visit. These cannot be obtained at the site and must be repurchased before visiting either online or at one of the main offices. This I found to be a big inconvenience throughout the entire state as I passed by on a weekend and was unaware.
The area is well patrolled and actually a ranger was present when I visited. He was a great source of information and allowed me to access the area despite my lack of knowledge of the pass requirement. There is no gate or monitoring when you enter only an honor box near the restrooms.
Campsites are marked with tables and fire rings and any restrictions are posted at the same area as the honor box.
I loved this location and would gladly stop in again if in the area!! Very cute and small, not busy and easy to access makes for the perfect place to spend a day or night.
- Make sure to look online and get your pass for any Nebraska parks or rec areas before traveling to.
- Bring anything you need with you as there are no services. Since this is along a major highway you are only a short distance from stores if you forget something but better come with everything rather than having to find them after.