Most people want to get away from everything when they go camping, says Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Suzanne Schmidt.
Many state parks are busy, with lots to see and do. But there are plenty of quieter ones, too, that typically aren’t as packed with visitors.
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When Schmidt was compiling a list of some of those quieter camping grounds, she looked for peaceful settings with nicer amenities.
“I tried to look across the state,” she said. “We have such a diverse park system statewide with a lot to offer from east to west.”
The parks she picked are less busy and give campers the chance to enjoy nature and wildlife, bird watch and hike along with many other amenities.
“A little more of a serene experience rather than camping right next door to somebody,” she said.
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The “quieter” parks include:
A trail ride at Niobrara State Park in Knox County.
Niobrara State Park: This hidden gem has all the amenities of a large state park, such as swimming pools, horseback riding, camping and cabins, but still is a quiet getaway. At a scenic and tranquil location near Niobrara in northeast Nebraska, it offers lots of other outdoor experiences, including primitive and RV camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Boat ramps, too.
Some sunset fishing at Olive Creek State Recreation Area in Lancaster County.
Olive Creek State Recreation Area: Located in Lancaster County near Kramer, it has primitive camping, fishing in the 175-acre lake, boating and plentiful picnicking opportunities. A lesser-known spot, Olive Creek offers a chance to get away from the noise of a more developed campground.
Alexandria State Recreation Area: Well off the beaten path, Alexandria has the feel of a wildlife management area. This scenic area in southeast Nebraska near Fairbury offers two recently renovated lakes with excellent fishing, a large group shelter for picnicking, boating and camping. The campground has plenty of shade trees as well as water, modern restrooms and a playground.
The hike/bike trail at Fort Kearny State Recreation Area.
Fort Kearny State Recreation Area: Enjoy a quiet area in the south central part of the state plus a dose of Nebraska history with Fort Kearny State Historical Park just 3 miles west. The unique Fort Kearny hike-bike trail also begins at the park, making it a great place to camp for bikers and hikers. The area also offers fishing, boating, swimming, horse trail rides and camping.
Families relax around a campfire at Victoria Springs State Recreation Area in Custer County.
Victoria Springs State Recreation Area: Log cabins built by an early pioneer still stand at Victoria Springs, which draws its name from the mineral springs that once supplied bottled water throughout the nation. This remote park in north central Nebraska near Anselmo offers fishing and boating on its 5-acre lake, as well as great picnicking opportunities and paddleboat rentals. Campers can enjoy scenic campsites; two modern cabins are available as well.
Fall colors adorn Keller Park State Recreation Area in Sheridan County.
Keller Park State Recreation Area: Located in a beautiful area for camping near Ainsworth in north central Nebraska, this is also one of the few spots where anglers can pursue both rainbow trout and warm-water fish species. Nestled amid rugged tree-covered bluffs, the 196-acre area offers excellent angling, along with camping, hiking and wildlife viewing.
Tent camping at Long Pine State Recreation Area in Brown County.
Long Pine State Recreation Area: This remote area in north central Nebraska features beautiful pine trees and bluffs. Anglers can enjoy great fishing, as Long Pine Creek offers some of Nebraska’s best trout fishing. The park also includes an archery range, a 1-mile scenic hiking trail and camping. Make sure to bring food and have a picnic; the park is a popular day-use spot with more than 40 picnic tables and five shelters.
Kayaking is a popular activity at Enders Reservoir State Recreation Area in Chase County.
Enders Reservoir State Recreation Area: This is a good escape for someone looking to enjoy nature in an uncrowded setting. Part of the park in southwest Nebraska doubles as a wildlife refuge in the fall and winter, so it is less developed than neighboring parks. Enders offers beautiful white sand beaches, boating, swimming, picnicking, fishing and camping.
Box Butte Reservoir State Recreation Area: A great choice for boating and camping. Located in northwest Nebraska near Hemingford, it provides fun water recreation in a beautiful, clear lake.. The area also provides good fishing, picnicking and some of the best birdwatching opportunities in the Panhandle.
Check availability and make reservations at outdoornebraska.org or call the reservation center at 402-471-1414 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Central time Monday through Friday. A vehicle entry permit is required at each park.
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