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Visitors will find plenty to do in Venture Parks in December

A variety of fun, educational events are scheduled throughout December in Nebraska’s Venture Parks. These events cover an array of interests for all age groups.

Venture Parks, Nebraska’s four state parks and recreation areas along the Platte River – Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, Platte River State Park, Schramm Park State Recreation Area and Louisville State Recreation Area – are where unique experiences and enhanced camping opportunities have been created in response to demand.

Park entry permits are required on vehicles entering the state parks and recreation areas. Get yours at the park entrance or at OutdoorNebraska.gov.

Schramm Education Center

Christmas Bird Count for Kids – Get the family outdoors and help contribute to science by participating in the Christmas Bird Count for Kids from 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 29. Naturalists will lead bird hikes down to the Platte River, in the forest, and an indoor feeder watch so you can choose your own adventure. Make bird crafts and help tally the results so they can be shared with the annual Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count Project.

Naturalist Program – Observe an animal feeding, learn how animals are cared for and about some of their unique adaptations. This daily program starts at 10:30 a.m. is free with paid admission to the center.

Winter Break Days – On Dec. 30, Jan. 2 and 3, the schedule will be: Story Time, 10 a.m.; Animal Feeding, 10:30 a.m.; Phenology and Nature Journaling, 11 a.m.; Meet a Reptile, noon; Animal Tracks with a Winter Hike, 1 p.m.

Mahoney State Park

Classic Christmas – Take part in this classic Christmas tradition Dec. 10 at 1:30 p.m. at the Crete Carrier Riverview Lodge, and enjoy holiday crafts and cookie decorating. Santa will visit, too. See more details in the calendar event listing at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov.

Naturalist Programs – On Dec. 22 at 10 a.m. and Dec. 29 at 3 p.m., meet park naturalists in the lobby of Peter Kiewit Lodge to learn about animal tracks and the signs critters leave behind, then go on a winter hike to locate tracks around the park. At 11 a.m. on Dec. 4, Dec. 11 and Dec. 18, visit with a naturalist at the Activity Center to learn beginning birding skills and how you can observe them, even when it is cold outside.

Platte River State Park

Nature Center – The Nature Center is open on Saturdays from 9 to 10:30 a.m. It is located below Mallet Lodge near the Wooden Tower and features live reptiles and amphibians. There are hands-on activities to explore and naturalists who are excited to share their knowledge of the outdoors with guests.

Archery on Fire – Test your skills in archery and primitive shooting at the Roger G. Sykes Outdoor Heritage Complex from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 3. There also will be a naturalist tent with many nature activities to explore.

Yule Log – Participate in a Yule Log Quest at this event Dec. 17 from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Walter Scott Lodge. Other activities include making pinecone bird feeders, roasting marshmallows, kindling hunt, hayrack ride and bonfire. Register a Yule Log Quest team by calling 402-234-2217.

Other Events

Wise and Wild – This free program, on Thursdays from 1 to 2 p.m., is designed for seniors who love the outdoors and want to enjoy time in the parks. The weekly themes and sites are:

  • Dec. 1 – Edible Campfires, Mahoney SP, Owen Marina
  • Dec. 8 – Mammals and More, Platte River SP, Mallet Lodge
  • Dec. 15 – Phenology, Schramm Education Center, classroom
  • Dec. 22 – All About Owls, Schramm Education Center, classroom

First Day Hikes – State parks across the nation plan First Day Hikes every New Year’s Day. These free guided hikes are a great way to spend time outdoors in the winter with friends and family. Venture Parks have scheduled the following First Day Hikes: Platte River SP, 9 a.m.; Schramm Education Center, 10:30 a.m.; Mahoney SP, 2:45 and 3:45 p.m.; Louisville SRA, 3 p.m.

About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at jerry.kane@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5008.

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