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Closures planned during park upgrades in north-central Nebraska, Panhandle

Access to certain areas of parks in north-central Nebraska and the Panhandle will be temporarily closed to make way for improvements.

Mike Morava, regional superintendent for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, said each of the projects is being started early enough in the fall to be finished before visitation peaks next year.

Smith Falls State Park near Valentine — Access to Nebraska’s tallest waterfall, Smith Falls, will be closed Sept. 6 through May 2023 as workers replace the aging wooden walkway that leads to it. The 500-foot walkway will be replaced with durable composite decking on a steel frame.

Keller Park State Recreation Area near Ainsworth — The campground will be closed from Sept. 6 through May 2023 as workers upgrade the electrical service to the campsites. Following the upgrade, all 24 electrical sites at Keller will have 50-amp service.

Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford — The Soldier Creek Campground along U.S. Highway 20 will be closed Sept. 12 through May 2023 to make way for an electrical upgrade. Following the project, the campground’s 70 electrical sites will all provide 50-amp service. The park’s recently expanded Red Cloud Campground will remain open until Sept. 30, and the campground near the Mare Barn that usually serves visitors with horses will remain open through the November firearm deer season.

Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area near Valentine — The Cedar Bay Campground will close Sept. 6 through May 2023 for an electrical upgrade. When complete, all 37 electrical sites at the campground will have 50-amp service. The park’s seven other campgrounds will be available during the project.

About Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

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