By Renae Blum/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
Busy state parks are busy for a reason: There’s plenty to do and lots to see. But there are plenty of quieter parks, too. They still offer amenities and attractions that make for a fun day or weekend, but typically aren’t as packed with visitors.
Here are nine state parks to put on your list when you’re looking for peace and more relaxation.
Niobrara State Park
Niobrara State Park is a hidden gem: It has all the amenities of a large state park, such as swimming pools,
horseback riding, camping and cabins, but still is a quiet getaway. This scenic, tranquil park in northeast Nebraska offers a variety of outdoor experiences, including primitive and RV camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. The park also offers boat ramps.
Olive Creek State Recreation Area
Olive Creek State Recreation Area offers 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 State Recreation Area has the feel of a wildlife management area. This scenic area in southeast Nebraska 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.
Fort Kearny State Recreation Area
At Fort Kearny State Recreation Area, campers can enjoy a quiet area plus a dose of Nebraska history; Fort Kearny State Historical Park is 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.
Victoria Springs State Recreation Area
Log cabins built by an early pioneer still are standing at Victoria Springs State Recreation Area, which draws its name from the mineral springs that once supplied bottled water throughout the nation. This remote park in central Nebraska offers fishing and boating on the 5-acre lake, as well as great picnicking opportunities and paddleboat rentals. Campers can enjoy scenic campsites; two modern cabins are available as well.
Keller Park State Recreation Area
Keller Park State Recreation Area, near Ainsworth, is a beautiful area for camping. It’s 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.
Long Pine State Recreation Area
This remote area 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.
Enders Reservoir State Recreation Area
Enders Reservoir, in southwest Nebraska, is a good escape for someone looking to enjoy nature in an uncrowded setting. Part of the park 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
In northwest Nebraska, visit Box Butte Reservoir State Recreation Area, which provides great water recreation in a beautiful, clear lake. Box Butte is a great choice for boating and camping. 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 to Friday. A vehicle entry permit is required at each park.