I have another Forum for Free Camping in Nebraska, but there are quite a few good spots in Nebraska to camp for $8, $10, $12 or $15. Nebraska recently increased the cost of camping and made the costs uniform across the sate. So that out of the way parks would be forced to charge the same as popular camping areas near metropolitan areas, such as Branched Oak or Mahoney. The $35 for a park pass, then $90 for a long weekend and another $35 if one of those nights we wanted to use a picnic shelter is a bit much for camping. for many of us, this might be a once a year splurge. That is not why we bought an old used camper.
But there are great camping options within the state and just outside the state (we’ll include camping within 15 or 20 miles from the boarder) for the common Cornhusker.
My goal is to make a list of top places to camp in Nebraska for under $20.
Since I also started a Forum for free camping in Nebraska, if the campsite is free, or donation camping, please log it on that forum instead.
Thanks for your ideas.
So I’ll start it off:
Gremlin Cove Camping area at the Harlan County Reservoir Dam is $16 a night, $8 if you are a vet with any disability. The shower house was closed when we were there but this is a Corps of Engineers site so you know they have good showers and flush toilets. We have a pop-up so I don’t remember if there was water hookup, but there were hydrants throughout. Nice beach, and a very big beautiful lake.
On the other side of the Highway across the dam there is more camping and a nature trail. We will go back to see more, much was closed due to flooding when we were there, but there are at least 2 other campsites besides Gremlin Cove.
The bluffs of the northern Missouri.
Stone State Park, Sioux City, IA
We loved Camping at Ponca State Park. A beautiful setting up on a bluff overlooking the Missouri river. Nice Clean ammenities, nice visitor center, nice trails. Yet at $30 a night plus a $30 park pass ($45 for out of state) this would mean that a long weekend with two of my sons and their families would have been $375 (one son is from out of state).
Hello Stone State Park in Iowa. This park is in the Iowa Bluffs almost directly across from Ponca.
In Iowa they feel that tax money paid for the park, so they do not charge an entrance fee. Non-Electric slabs are $11 and Electric is $16. Showers and flush toilets are clean and nice. Though you can reserve one of their beautiful CCC shelters for $25, it is free for your use if no one has it reserved. In Nebraska you cannot use the shelter without reserving it and paying.
All three families camped for three nights for under $144. (less than half what it would have cost at Ponca) and grilled one night in a shelter!
There is a phenomenal nature center (https://www.facebook.com/DorothyPecautNatureCenter/) and the park is riddled with great hiking. Nearby Sioux was full of museums, Historical monuments, and nice shopping.
@Charles_C We did a little camping in western Nebraska last summer and found it was a mixed bag. We spent a night at Riverside Park near Scottsbluff and while this does not meet your cost criteria (unless you choose a tent site), it was a reasonable place. Toadstool Geologic Park was very interesting but HOT. When we were there last summer, it was $5 ($2.50 with senior pass) but there was a sign saying it would increase to $15 ($7.50 with senior pass) so this still meets your cost criteria. We did find a “free” campground but it’s a BIG stretch to call it a campground. It was called Bayard City Campground - three sites with hookups but we decided not to stay there. (I believe you had to pay after the second night). You can read my detailed reviews (Lee D.) or feel free to ask me any questions.
I have to plug Methodist Cove and Hunter Cove campgrounds. They are on the banks of the Harlan Lake near Alma, NE (border between NE and KS). Non-electric camp sites are $18 and it goes up from their for RV, electric, etc. Both sites are run by Army Corps of Engineers. It’s an absolutely beautiful area, great lake access for recreation and fishing (including a fish cleaning station), and it’s very spread out. I left a full review of Methodist Cove - go check it out!
Thanks for the tips. I’ve been to toadstool but never camped there.