7 of the Best National Parks in Nebraska

There are ten National Park Services in the state of Nebraska, although the state has no National Parks. The national park services are comprised of five scenic National Historic Trails and two National Monuments. The state is also home to other fascinating parks services, for instance, a National Historical Park, National Recreational River, and National Scenic River. Ready to explore all that The Cornhusker State has to offer? Here’s our list of the best national parks in Nebraska.

7 of the Best National Parks in Nebraska

1. California – National Historic Trail

Spanning 5,665 miles across ten states, the ‘California’ is the longest National Historic Trail in the United States. Thousands of emigrants travelled this trail in the 1840s and 1850s by wagon from the Midwest toward the Pacific in search of gold and opportunity. Along the Nebraska section of this trail, you can stop off at many historical sites of interest as well as beautiful natural landmarks like the Legacy of the Plains Museum and the Homestead National Monument of America.

2. Pony Express – National Historic Trail

The Pony Express National Historic Trail traces the route that men once rode on horseback to deliver mail from Missouri to California. It took the mailmen just 10 days to cover the 1,800-mile trail. The route crosses through eight states with plenty of places along the way to stop where you can admire the scenery and learn more about this historic postal route. For example, in Nebraska, you can stop at Fort Kearny, Chimney Rock and Scotts Bluff National Monument.

3. Lewis & Clark – National Historic Trail

Extending for some 4,900 miles (7,900km) from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon, the ‘Lewis and Clark’ is the third-longest National Historic Trail. The Trail of Tears in North Carolina and the California Trail are both longer. The trail follows the 1804 to 1806 Lewis and Clark Expedition who set off to cross the newly acquired western portion of the country after the Louisiana Purchase. In Nebraska, the trail takes plenty of historical sites, for instance, the Interpretive Garden at the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Visitor Center in Omaha.

4. Oregon – National Historic Trail

Laid by fur traders from about 1811 to 1840, the Oregon National Historic Trail extends some 2,170 miles and cuts through six states: Idaho, KansasMissouriNebraska, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. Emigrants tackled the original Oregon Trail on foot, horseback or in wagons moving to Oregon with its lush farmlands and hopes of a new beginning. As you journey the Nebraska portion today, you can visit museums, historic sites, and churches that retell the story of these early American settlers. For instance, you can visit Ash Hollow State Historical Park, Oak Grove Station, and The Archway – a unique trail-themed building.

5. Scotts Bluff – National Monument

The 3,000 acres of Scotts Bluff National Monument is home to the Scotts Bluff monument. Towering 800 feet above the North Platte River, this geological feature served as a landmark for many people, including peoples from Native Americans to emigrants on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails to modern-day travellers. With paleontological and human history and flora and fauna to discover, there are lots of things to do here.

6. Niobrara – National Scenic River

The Niobrara National Scenic River is a popular recreation river. Choose your adventure, for instance, you can explore the Niobrara River on a canoe, tube, or kayak. You can also enjoy lots of activities on land in the surroundings, for instance, hiking, biking, and wildlife watching. There are plenty of scenic waterfalls too where you can stop and enjoy a rest or picnic.

7. Agate Fossil Beds – National Monument

In the early 1900s, palaeontologists found full skeletons of extinct Miocene mammals in the hills of Nebraska. Today, this area is protected to preserve the fossil beds. But it’s not just world-class fossils you’ll find here, there is also The Cook Collection. This collection consists of Native American artefacts. There were given to the Cook family in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Close family friends like Red Cloud, Chief of the Oglala Lakota, gave them these items. This collection preserves the Lakota heritage.

Melanie May

Melanie is an intrepid solo traveller, endlessly curious about people, places and food. She is a fan of slow travel and loves exploring the world by mouth, discovering a culture through its food. Having backpacked her way around the world she turned her wanderlust into a career and is now a full-time travel writer.

View stories