LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska’s state parks are vibrant and diverse. They can be venues of solitude or teeming with activity. After 100 years, they’ve been a little bit of everything to many people.
Gov. Pete Ricketts has proclaimed 2021 the year of Nebraska’s State Parks Centennial. It is a year that will see activity in the parks like no other, with events scheduled throughout 2021 across the state.
Chadron State Park became Nebraska’s first state park in 1921. The state park system has grown to 76 park areas, and for 100 years, the parks have been a place to celebrate with family, hike, bike, camp, paddle, fish, picnic or just relax.
Nebraska’s state parks provide quality outdoor recreation due to the support and hard work of volunteers, friends groups, donors and patrons whose partnerships are key to successful park improvement projects, new facilities and educational programs.
State historical parks provide historical preservation, growing our legacy and cultural character by bring history to citizens with re-enactments portraying life as it was during the early beginnings of our state.
“Nebraska State Parks offer many opportunities for families to get in touch with nature, spend time together in the outdoors and create lasting memories,” said Jim Swenson, parks administrator. “State parks and recreation areas are so important to our quality of life in Nebraska. It is a great privilege to manage them for our guests and maintain the resources for years to come.”
The park system includes eight state parks, 58 state recreation areas and 10 state historical parks. No two park areas are alike.
Hundreds of events are planned at state parks across Nebraska, including three signature events, at Chadron State Park on June 11-12, Victoria Springs SRA on July 10, and Arbor Lodge SHP on Oct. 2. To see the other events planned for the centennial, visit YourNebraskaParks100.org.
“The centennial theme, ‘Your Memories, Your Adventures, Your Parks’ was selected to commemorate the importance and value of Nebraska’s public state park system, and as an invitation for everyone to return to the parks as our guests and celebrate outdoor recreation during 2021 and beyond,” Swenson said.
In addition, Game and Parks has partnerships and promotions to celebrate the centennial, such as:
• Game and Parks partnered with Nebraska Educational Television to produce a one-hour documentary that will tell the unique history of our state historical parks.
• The Nebraska Lottery has a state parks-themed celebratory scratch ticket. A $5 ticket can win one of three $40,000 grand prizes or any of several other amounts from the lottery. The tickets will be available for about three months beginning in late April 2021.
• Nebraska Tourism is featuring several state park areas in the state’s official passport program.
• Game and Parks is partnering with Michelob Ultra to promote healthy living and getting in touch with nature. Through May, people who buy $30 worth of Michelob products and purchase an annual Nebraska park entry permit will receive a $30 rebate from Michelob.
• A special edition of Nebraskaland Magazine celebrating 100 years of Nebraska state parks now is on newsstands.
• A new challenge, Your Parks Adventure, will encourage travel and adventure in Nebraska’s parks. It will invite participants to visit selfie stations at scenic sites in the state park system May 22 through Nov. 30 and submit their photos and stories to enter prize drawings, including a grand prize camper provided by A.C. Nelson RV World.
To learn more about Nebraska’s state parks’ centennial, visit YourNebraskaParks100.org.