Step Outside - Nebraska WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 http://stepoutside.org/ Step Outside - Nebraska 144 144 http://stepoutside.org/ https://cdnstep-americantownscom.netdna-ssl.com/img/stepoutside_logo.gif Sat, 20 Oct 2018 03:10:19 -0500 Best Places to Fish in the Midwest This Fall Walleyes and a variety of salmon are on the autumn menu in the Midwest as anglers have a last chance to fish open water before the winter freeze starts to set in. Fishing for either species can be excellent; how the weather and the water temperatures line up are more critical where salmon are concerned, but the fall run extends well into November.

Walleyes aren’t so picky, and all the traditional waters such as the Mississippi River, Big Saint Germain Lake in Wisconsin, Otter Tail Lake in Minnesota and Great Lakes feeder streams give up tons of  ’eyes in the fall.

One Last Salmon Fling

The big attraction nowadays is king (chinook) salmon that make their fall spawning runs up rivers and creeks. Whether fishing from a small boat or a Great Lakes charter boat, latching on to a 20- or 30-pound king can quickly warm up an otherwise chilly fall day.

Hot Spots To Fish: Michigan’s Grand River, which empties into the eastern side of Michigan, is a prime destination for salmon. Getting Bit Guide Service (616-570-2946, gettingbitguideservice.com) in Grand Rapids is a good starting point. In fact, any port of call along Lake Michigan on either the east or west sides is likely to have plenty of knowledgeable salmon guides or charters. Fishing from jetties or piers – such as the famed McKinley Pier in Milwaukee – is also productive during the fall salmon runs.

In northwestern New York, the Salmon River lives up to its name through mid-October, but the run might linger into November in the Lake Ontario feeder, depending on the weather. Coho and steelheads also are in the mix too.

The Yankee Angler (315-963-2065, yankeeangler.com) in Pulaski, N.Y. keeps tabs on the fishing. In the big waters of Lake Ontario’s southern shore at Rochester, N.Y., give Reel Em In Sportfishing Charters (585-317-5325, reeleminsportfishing.com) a call.

Farther to the northwest, the waters and feeders of Lake Superior near Sault Ste. Marie are teeming with big salmon. One of the benefits here is that you can always slip in to the St. Mary’s River System to get away from those rough autumn nor’ westers. Live To Fish Charters (906-440-7797) can help make it happen.

New York rivers and inshore waters are teeming with big salmon in the fall.

Tackle You’ll Need: Salmon tackle and striped bass tackle (see above) are practically interchangeable. Fish might range from a few pounds to well over 20 pounds, and rods and reels should be in the medium- to-heavy range. A light- to-medium spinning outfit capable of holding a couple of hundred yards of 10- to 14-pound-test monofilament or 30- to 50-pound-test braid should do for most applications, especially when casting lures. Try the Okuma Epixor XT-20 with a matching rod.

Quick Tip: Just to hedge your bets, tie a foot-long section of 2x mono to your streamer hook and add a beadhead Prince nymph or similar pattern to the other end. When salmon are finicky, they might flash at a streamer, but not take it. Sometimes, a smaller mouthful such as a nymph trailer will seal the deal.

 

Best Lures/Bait: For the most part, spawn-run salmon hit spoons, crankbaits or roe bags out of reaction rather than hunger. Shiny lures, such as the Luhr-Jensen Twinky Rig behind a flasher, the Acme Kastmaster Spoon and a variety of soft-plastic swimbaits or hard crankbaits, will elicit strikes. Fly fishermen favor Dahlberg Divers, Wooly Buggers, Hex Nymphs and Glo Bugs.

Walleyes Are Hungry and Willing

In similar fashion to bass, walleyes follow baitfish from the bigger lakes to feeder creeks and rivers with current.

Hot Spots To Fish: The Van Hook Arm of Lake Sakakawea (701-421-0360, vanhookguideservice.com) in North Dakota is a prime walleye destination, as is Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago (920-598-0586, walleyepatrol.com

Tackle You’ll Need: Power fishing it’s not. Though walleyes might fatten up to well over 10 pounds, 2- to 4-pound fish are more the rule. Depending on the average size of the fish, 4- to 10-pound-test monofilament or fluorocarbon will do.

For spinning enthusiasts, the Quantum Vapor PT with matching rod will work. If you prefer trolling to casting, or bouncing a weight and natural bait on the bottom, try a baitcasting outfit such as a Fenwick/Pflueger Night Hawk or Iron Hawk combo.

Quick tip: Trolling at night with diving jerkbaits, such as the Storm Original ThunderStick or Lucky Craft Pointer 110, is a great way to catch walleyes. Troll in patterns from deep to shallow and back again, as the fish tend to relocate up and down drop-offs and channel runs depending on bait movement.

 

Best Lures/Bait: Leeches, nightcrawlers, minnows and everything from crankbaits to spinners will find favor with hungry fall walleyes. Top picks include: Rapala’s Shad Rap, Berkley’s Flicker Shad, Mepps’ Black Fury, Rapala’s Husky Jerk and Northland Fishing Tackle’s Forage Minnow Jigging Spoon.

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Photograph Courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources Walleyes weighing more than 10 pounds apiece are routinely caught in the fall, but most fish are "good eating size," averaging about 3 pounds. http://stepoutside.org/article/best-places-to-fish-in-the-midwest-this-fall http://stepoutside.org/article/best-places-to-fish-in-the-midwest-this-fall Thu, 11 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Camping Done Right: 7 Essential Outdoor Stores in Nebraska With so much to do outdoors in Nebraska, you’ll need to stock up on camping gear to make the most of your adventures. Whether you’re into simple or luxurious camping, there are plenty of places to find the necessary items to suit your needs. Here are seven essential outdoor stores in Nebraska to check out before your next outing.

This family-owned camping store offers an incredible selection of top-quality camping products. From camping essentials to outdoor cooking equipment, Backwoods in Omaha carries everything outdoor enthusiasts need to camp out in style. Campers can find the North Face tents, Bison coolers, and more. 

New packs just in from @ospreypacks. We've got you covered for all your travelling, hiking, and backpacking needs!

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With locations in Kearney, La Vista, and Sidney, Nebraska (the store in La Vista spans 128,000 square-feet!), Cabela’s is your one stop shop for camping. Experienced staff are ready to help you pick out a fantastic Yeti cooler or portable Coleman grill, and get the most out of your next adventure.

Great stop @ Cabela's headquarters today! #itsinmynature #cabelasprostaff #gearup

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The Moose’s Tooth is a small but well-stocked camping goods store in Lincoln. Locally owned with a knowledgeable staff, campers can find clothing and equipment from high-quality brands like Patagonia, North Face, and Chaco.

Canfield’s is a large outpost that offers a wide range of outdoor, sporting, and tactical gear. For campers, Canfield’s carries all of the gear needed for spending one night or many nights outdoors. From Marmot sleeping bags, to Ruff Wear goods, you can find it all at Canfield's.

Practicing her camping skills. 🤣

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DICK’s Sporting Goods is a one-stop destination for sporting and camping goods from top brands like North Face, Yeti, and Columbia. With a variety of outdoor products, you can make sure you’re getting top of the line gear for an enjoyable camping season.

This top-notch retailer in Lincoln and Omaha is a sporting goods superstore that also carries an exceptional lineup of camping gear. From chairs and coolers to sleeping bags and tents, this spot carries some of the best brands in the business. Stop in and stock up on Coleman cooking gear, or for Mountainsmith trekking poles, backpacks, and more.

#scheels #yeti #coozie I know you all need one of these for summer #coldbeer #science

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Omaha Knife was founded in 2011 and started out as just an online business selling a few brands of axes and knives. It has since expanded as a retail store in La Vista and now offers the best quality knives and axe brands, camping accessories, sharpening systems, water filtration systems, and flashlights. Kershaw, Factor Equipment, Microtech, and Zero Tolerance are just a few of the notable brands Omaha Knife carries.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/camping-done-right-7-essential-outdoor-stores-in-nebraska http://stepoutside.org/article/camping-done-right-7-essential-outdoor-stores-in-nebraska Wed, 15 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Gorgeous Beach Campsites in Nebraska No matter where you are in Nebraska, you’re never more than an easy drive away from a gorgeous lake with plenty of camping options right near the water. Whether you prefer to roll up in your RV, or just bring a tent, Nebraska is home to plenty of camping options for your next escape to nature. Here are five gorgeous lakeside campsites in Nebraska to enjoy!

The three hundred and twenty-acre Lake Ogallala offers 82 shady camping sites with electrical hookups as well as another 180 more primitive camping sites along the west side of the lake. Fishing is the main attraction at Lake Ogallala, and there are also two boat ramps if you want to hit the water. This modern campground is pay-for-use, with modern restroom facilities, hot showers, and fire gates in a serene lakeside setting.

Fremont features nearly 300 acres of water and is a favorite among campers and water enthusiasts. With a swimming beach and plenty of places to fish and boat, Fremont is a gorgeous, tranquil option. Two hundred and forty primitive campsites and 190 hard-surfaced, electrical hookup campsites for RVs are available to suit all camping needs.

The area of Lake Wanahoo encompasses 1,777 acres and features a 662-acre lake with a fine recreation area to boat, fish, and of course, camp. Camping facilities are located right on the west side of the lake and include more than 20 grass pads and 50 gravel pads with electricity and another 60 grass pads without electricity. Families are welcome as facilities include plenty of picnic areas, bicycle and hiking trails, and much more.

At 35,700 acres, Lake Mcconaughey is Nebraska’s largest reservoir with quality camping options right on the water. Martin Bay is the most popular area to pitch your tent as it appeals to fishers, boaters, water skiers, and swimming enthusiasts alike. Most of the shoreline features clean sand, creating perfect swimming beaches to enjoy. There are three RV campgrounds and over half a dozen more primitive camping sites to choose from.

Medicine Creek, also known as Harry Strunk Lake, is a top-rated area in Nebraska. With over 8,500 acres of land and water to enjoy, Medicine Creek is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the great outdoors. For more luxurious camping option, rent one of the shoreline cabins overlooking the lake. Shady Bay Campground is another great option with more than 70 shady camping pads with electrical hookups and modern facilities. 

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5 Beautiful Backpack Camping Spots in Nebraska When it comes to choosing a camping spot, the only thing a backpacking camper needs is a water source and flat spot to sleep for the night. Thankfully, there are plenty of places where you can not only sleep comfortably but also enjoy a day of fishing or relaxation in nature. Here are five beautiful backpack camping spots in Nebraska.

Located right where the Niobrara and Missouri rivers meet, the Niobrara State Park offers excellent camping options tucked in the hills and coupled with an unforgettable outdoor experience. The Niobrara State Park campgrounds include picnic spots and grills for meals. Backpackers will also find Adirondack shelters available. Horseback trails, hiking trails, and fishing are just a few of the activities you can enjoy at this stunning countryside camping spot.

The Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area is located near the second largest lake in Nebraska in Crofton. Beautiful camping spots are located right along the shoreline of the lake where there is plenty of trees for shade, picnic shelters, showers, and a playground. A few different campgrounds are available with various levels of services depending on how primitive of a camping experience you’re after.

Fort Kearny is home to one of the world’s largest populations of sandhill cranes and waterfowl and provides a variety of more primitive camping options. Enormous cottonwood trees, some over 100 years-old, shade the camping area located in the central Platte River valley. Showers, picnic areas, grills, and many trails are available to explore. 

Located along the picturesque Missouri River bluffs in Northwestern Nebraska, Ponca State Park is a top choice for backpacking campers. With more than 20 miles of trails, there is plenty to explore and see throughout the wooded bluffs. Ponca State Park provides primitive camping options year-round along with showers, picnic tables, fire pits, and other basic services for all your camping needs.

Two Rivers is another fantastic camping option for backpackers. The recreation area is surrounded by more than 300 acres of land, seven ponds, and amazing views of the Platte River. There are plenty of camping spots to choose from with amenities ranging from showers, picnic areas, a kiosk, and restroom facilities.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-beautiful-backpack-camping-spots-in-nebraska http://stepoutside.org/article/5-beautiful-backpack-camping-spots-in-nebraska Tue, 14 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Awesome Campgrounds for Families in Nebraska The state parks in Nebraska offer some incredible, modern campgrounds for families to enjoy. If your family is seeking a weekend getaway or an outdoor adventure with convenient and family-friendly amenities, then check out these five great campgrounds for young families to enjoy in Nebraska! 

Ponca State Park covers over 2,400 acres where families can camp out among the forest-covered hills. With well-maintained trails, horseback riding, and stunning scenes overlooking the river bluffs, there’s no shortage of fun to be had. The camping facilities at Ponca State Park feature water and electrical hookups, shower facilities, playgrounds, picnic areas, and much more. If you can’t fit the whole family in a tent, then Ponca State Park also offers modern cabins with air conditioning and all of the amenities to rent.

As one of the most historic parks in the Nebraska parks system, Fort Robinson covers over 20,000 acres in the panhandle of the state and features stunning views of the Pine Ridge lands, historic sites, and lots of wildlife. Families can get a dose of history at the onsite museum, and learn about the natural history and geology of the area. For families, a restaurant on the premises makes it easy to organize meals and the camping facilities are second to none. Electric hookups, modern showers, picnic areas, shelters, and much more make Fort Robinson the perfect family getaway.

Johnson Lake is one of the best areas in Nebraska to set up camp. This Elwood campsite has a long list of amenities including a boat launch area for boaters, a fish cleaning station for the anglers, and picnic areas. Activities include sail boating and boarding, excellent stargazing, swimming, water skiing, birdwatching and a playground for the little ones.

Nice little set up for the weekend #earlybday @meg_rush #camping

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With an emphasis on family fun, the Camp A Way campsite near Lincoln offers lots of great activities, such as themed weekends and pancake breakfasts, for families to enjoy. Children can splash around in the pool and families of all ages can play at the nostalgic arcade or with giant family games like chess and Connect Four. The campgrounds at Camp A Way are modern and offer families both relaxing options and more social options for the weekend.

Located in Southeast Nebraska, Eugene T. Mahoney State Park is another excellent option for nice campgrounds in the heart of the wilderness. Families with younger children can enjoy a variety of activities onsite, including a swimming pool, wave pool, water slides, mini golf, and much more. Outdoor activities include beautiful nature trails, fishing, observation areas, playgrounds, ice skating in the winter, and lots of activities for all ages. Eugene T. Mahoney State Park features over 50 modern cabins with shower and laundry facilities for a hotel atmosphere right in the heart of the wilderness.

Campfire = relaxation!

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spkphotostock/Shutterstock.com http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-campgrounds-for-families-in-nebraska http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-campgrounds-for-families-in-nebraska Mon, 13 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Awesome RV Campsites in Nebraska In Nebraska, there is an endless array of outdoor activities to enjoy. What’s more, if you own an RV then there’s little you need to get out and experience it all. For campers who prefer the RV lifestyle, there is no shortage of RV-friendly campsites in Nebraska that come complete with everything you need to have a great time and be comfortable. So if you’re on a quest to find the best RV campgrounds in Nebraska, we’ve put together five of the most awesome RV campsites in the state!

If you’re looking for a high-energy and entertaining campsite for a weekend getaway, then make your way to RiverWest Park in Elkhorn. With RV and tent camping available, you can also reserve fire pits to enjoy during the evenings. Recreational activities at RiverWest Park are geared toward adult guests and include movie nights on a giant screen, tubing, kayaking, tanking float trips, and more.

There is plenty to do at West Omaha/NE Lincoln KOA campgrounds in Gretna. Just a short drive from downtown Omaha and Lincoln, there is plenty of spaces for RV vehicles, with 80-foot full hook-up and 50-amp service available, as well as family-friendly activities to enjoy. From a large playground and swimming pool to sand volleyball courts and movie nights, this KOA is the perfect summertime escape. When evenings roll around, cable television is also available for all cabins and RV sites. 

For a relaxing camping experience, head to Victorian Acres RV Park in Nebraska City. Located on 26 acres of land, there are over 90 RV sites complete with full hookups, Wi-Fi access, restroom and shower facilities, and incredibly welcoming owners. Victorian Acres is known for its clean and comfortable grounds so you can feel like you’re right at home.

This family-friendly RV campground located in Waco has everything you need for a relaxing, fun getaway. With plenty of spacious sites for even the largest RVs and all of the amenities you’d expect at home, there’s no doubt guests will feel comfortable at this campground resort. Double Nickel also offers a swimming pool, off-leash dog park, mini golf, an arcade, and free high speed Internet to enjoy throughout the park.

For the best way to enjoy Nebraska’s sandhills, make your way to Fishberry Campground in Valentine. This RV site is located right near some of the most stunning natural attractions in Nebraska—including the Niobrara River, sandstone cliffs, and the Smith Falls waterfall. Fishberry offers travelers picnic tables, 30-amp hookups, restroom and shower facilities, and Wi-Fi throughout the site. 

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Aleksey Stemmer/Shutterstock.com http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-rv-campsites-in-nebraska http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-rv-campsites-in-nebraska Mon, 13 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Energizing Hikes in Nebraska Hiking is a very healthy and invigorating activity and Nebraska is filled with beautiful hiking options to spend your days. For a glimpse at some of the more challenging hiking trails for intermediate to advanced hikers, here are five energizing hiking spots in Nebraska waiting for you!

The Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area offers miles of beautiful yet rugged trails to hike with spectacular views of the North Platte River Valley. For more advanced hikers, there are some very challenging and steep trails here. 

This is Scotts Bluff’s most famous trail. At 1.6 miles-long in one direction, Saddle Rock Trail is considered to be strenuous and has an elevation change of 435 feet. 

It may not seem like this trail is a huge challenge at 1.34 miles, it can be a rather strenuous trek. Corps of Discovery Trail is named after the Lewis and Clark Expedition who passed through this area in August 1804. This hike is not recommended for novices. The views at the top are outstanding. 

This trail is open to hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. In 2006, a fire burned the area and according to its website, numerous snags still remain so it’s best to proceed with caution. On windy days, this roughly six-mile loop trail can cause falling hazards. Despite this, the area is magnificently beautiful and makes for an excellent hike. 

Located approximately 30 miles from Lincoln, the Platte River State Park offers plenty of moderate hiking trails. Our recommendation is to head to the one that leads directly to a picturesque waterfall. While you're making your way to the refreshing falls, don’t let the scenic views distract you. On the western side of the park, there are plenty of twists and turns on this trail to keep you on your toes. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-energizing-hikes-in-nebraska http://stepoutside.org/article/5-energizing-hikes-in-nebraska Fri, 10 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Awesome Trail Running Spots in Nebraska If you’re not a runner in Nebraska, it’s time to change that! Nebraska is home to a number of incredible nature trails for a quick or more lengthy run and they all offer unique, beautiful perspectives of the state. If you’re ready to get out into nature, here are five awesome trail running spots in Nebraska.

Located in Wilderness Park, the 6.5-mile Jamaica North Trail winds through the park all the way to Beatrice, Nebraska. As one of the area’s most popular trails, work is underway to expand access to the trail, making it much easier to get to and from other Lincoln area trails. This expansion is a major winner for runners of central Nebraska!

The Chalco Hills Trails make up a series of mulched trails that run through a beautiful forested area perfect for a weekend run. Hop on the trail at any point and along the way you’ll find scenic views of prairie grasses and stunning foliage in the fall. 

While a large portion of the Dannebrog Trail is paved, there is also a very nice wood chipped trail that winds through the historic Hannibal Woods and around the abandoned Union Pacific rail line. 

This 20-mile trail spans from the southeast town of Beatrice to the Nebraska/Kansas state line. Named after a Ponca chief, the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska owns and maintains this trail for visitors to enjoy. If you’re looking for a killer workout combined with stunning scenery, then Chief Standing Bear Trail is the place to go.

The Niobrara State Park encompasses 14 miles of trails that wind through the dunes and along the Niobrara River. The beautiful park is perfect for a run through the forest and to enjoy the many birds and wildlife native to the area. The trails vary in length, difficulty, and surface—ranging from grasslands to chipped limestone to suit all types of runners.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-trail-running-spots-in-nebraska http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-trail-running-spots-in-nebraska Fri, 10 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Start Your Trek: 7 Unbeatable Hiking Retailers in Nebraska Looking to take on a weekend hike? No problem. There are plenty of stores that carry every piece of hiking gear you could ever want right here in Nebraska. Not only do these stores have all the gear you need, but they also have the knowledgeable staff that can help to recommend the top spots for your hike as well. So if you’re looking to step up your hiking game, then stop into one of these seven unbeatable hiking retailers in Nebraska.

The Moose’s Tooth in Lincoln carries a variety of outdoor gear in brands that you can trust will last for years, including Patagonia, the North Face, and more. For backpacks, hiking gear, and top-of-the-line apparel, outdoor enthusiasts will find everything they need at this friendly local shop.

Backwoods is a family-owned outdoor gear and apparel store located in Omaha. This Nebraska location carries a variety of outdoor apparel and gear fit for any hiking adventure. Stop in for trekking poles, hiking shoes, hydration packs and more in name brands like Sea to Summit, Oboz, and more.

QC Supply, headquartered in Schuyler, started in 1982 and has since grown into a local destination for not only farm supplies but also outdoor footwear, hiking gear, apparel, and more. Hit the trails in a pair of hiking boots from Ariat or Rocky

Scheels in Omaha has one of the top hiking gear selections in the state. Voted numerous times as one of the best sporting goods stores in the country, you can find brands like KEEN, Columbia, Merrell, and more. 

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Canfield’s in Omaha started in 1946 and has grown into one of Nebraska’s largest locally-owned outdoor sporting goods stores. The store carries an impressive array of hiking gear in name brands like Columbia, Life is Good, Marmot, and many more.

Just as the name says, at this store you'll find outdoor clothing, shoes, and accessories. Threads is a happening place that caters to those with an outdoor lifestyle. This spot is perfect for those infatuated with hiking, and those who love doing so in style. Stock up on footwear from brands like Teva and gear from brands like Hydro Flask.

Sports Village started in 1984 helping athletes meet their performance goals with the right product. Here you'll find the essentials: shoes, duffel bags, thermal clothing, and much more. Come in and have someone help you find the right shoe from one of their over 500 styles! Under Armour and Nike are among the brands you will find at this active wear destination.

Through Sunday the 14th, stop in to save 20% on all Nike clothing! Only 11 more days of Christmas shopping left!

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http://stepoutside.org/article/start-your-trek-7-unbeatable-hiking-retailers-in-nebraska http://stepoutside.org/article/start-your-trek-7-unbeatable-hiking-retailers-in-nebraska Thu, 09 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
SPOTLIGHT: Things to Do in and Around Fort Robinson State Park With preserved relics and historic trails that pioneers once traveled, Fort Robinson State Park is the ultimate escape in Nebraska. This park boasts plentiful hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails, camping opportunities, and surrounding attractions that call for a several days of exploration. Here are the best things to do in and around Fort Robinson State Park.  

Western Nebraska is dotted with historic sites nestled in some of the Midwest’s most beautiful state parks. From 1873 until after World War II, Fort Robinson served as a military camp and many of its original buildings are still in use at the Fort Robinson State Park today. The area has a long history and currently offers a wide range of activities and places to stay and explore the rich history of the land. 

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All of the trails at Fort Robinson State Park are open to hikers, and most are open to mountain bikers and equestrians. The trails wind through forests, meadows, streams, and rugged hills and there’s no shortage of plants and wildlife to enjoy along the way. Head to the Soldier Creek Loop for a quiet hike in the wilderness that crosses approximately 11 miles from the parking area at the North and Middle Fork trailheads and connects to the Trooper Trail. 

The Smiley Canyon scenic drive will take you from the Fort Robinson Camping Area through a beautiful canyon where you’ll see bison and pronghorn roaming freely. This majestic drive does not see a lot of traffic, so you’ll have some of the best views in all of the park to yourself.

Fort Robinson State Park offers plenty of shady camping spaces with electrical hookups, picnic tables, modern restrooms and showers, and shelters. The park is also very accommodating to horses, offering horse barns to put your horse up for the night. With many trails to hike and to ride, Fort Robinson campgrounds are the perfect place to camp and enjoy the great outdoors.

Find out just how tough life was for early settlers at the Museum of the Fur Trade in nearby Chadron. The museum stands on the site of an old trading post established for the American Fur Company in 1837. It houses an outstanding collection of trade goods, cutlery, textiles, costumes, and much more.

After a long day outdoors, unwind with a visit to the Post Playhouse, Northwestern Nebraska’s best live theatre company located in Chadron. With several productions rotating at a time, this small but delightful theater brings together some of the best professionals from across the country and nearby.

For an exciting ride through the buttes of Fort Robinson, you can book a ride on an open-air Jeep and learn about the history and geology of the area while the wind flows through your hair. For a more relaxed option, book a spot on the horse-drawn tour of the park and surrounding buttes.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/spotlight-things-to-do-in-and-around-fort-robinson-state-park http://stepoutside.org/article/spotlight-things-to-do-in-and-around-fort-robinson-state-park Thu, 09 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Best Birdwatching Hikes in Nebraska It’s true that Nebraska is home to the largest concentration of sandhill cranes on the planet, with over half a million birds making the state their wintering and breeding grounds. But that’s not all Nebraska birdwatching has to offer. From prairie birds to forest birds, Nebraska’s vast ecosystem provides the perfect home for birds of all kinds. Here are five wonderful bird watching hikes to check out in Nebraska.

During the spring months, a hike around the Platte River Valley is a must. Especially during March, when an astonishing half a million sandhill cranes make their way across the Platte Valley. To prepare for your hike, be sure to check the weather first as it can vary greatly depending on the time of year. You’ll want to dress comfortably to maximize your stay.

The Elkhorn Valley Trail features a scenic route across the rolling hills and prairies of Nebraska. It’s also a hotbed for birdwatching. Some of the best birdwatching sites along the trail are near the Fremont Lakes State Recreation Area as well as the Dead Timber State Recreation Area. 

The Missouri Valley Trail is right in the path for many migratory birds. As you make your way through the trail, you’ll encounter a number of great birdwatching spots. Some of the birds you might see along the trail include the American woodcock, the ruby-throated hummingbird, northern cardinals, barred owls, and some incredible snow geese.

Located alongside the Niobrara River, the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge is a 19,000-acre paradise for a variety of Great Plains birds. If you make the trek, then get ready to spot a variety of plants, animals, and of course, birds. Birds native to the area include the grasshopper sparrow, the sharp-tailed grouse, and more than 230 other species.

The Central Sandhills Trail winds through the heart of Nebraska’s largest natural ecosystem. The 19,000-acre grassland region makes up almost a quarter of the entire state and the Nebraska Sandhills is the largest grassland ecosystem in the whole country. As a result, the trail is one of the best in the Midwest for spotting nesting and feeding birds of all kinds. Species of birds you’re bound to encounter on this trail include the black-crowned night heron, Wilson’s phalarope, eastern screech owl, white-breasted nuthatch, American avocet, Canada goose, trumpeter swan, and many others.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-best-birdwatching-hikes-in-nebraska http://stepoutside.org/article/5-best-birdwatching-hikes-in-nebraska Thu, 09 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Great Hiking Trails in Nebraska Nebraska is home to numerous top-notch state parks with well-maintained hiking trails and fun activities for all ages. If you’re looking for a fun weekend escape, there are plenty of places in Nebraska where you and your family can be one with nature. Here are 5 excellent hiking trails for families to explore in Nebraska. 

This wetland sanctuary includes some excellent trails around the marsh and family-friendly events such as 2nd Saturdays which offer educational programs geared toward families with children. On the Heron Haven trails, you’ll spot many types of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife creatures and critters.

For a day trip from Omaha or Lincoln, take your family exploring at the Eugene T. Mahoney State Park. In addition to well-maintained walking and bike trails, the park also has an aquatic center, indoor playground, observation tower, and sledding and ice skating activities during the winter months for families to enjoy. Mahoney State Park also offers family-friend facilities for camping near the lake if you want to stay out exploring the trails all weekend.

Thanks for joining me and my pineapple eating family ❤️

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The Fontanelle Forest has lots of children’s play areas as well as special activities for children planned throughout the year. For example, on Family Sundays the park invites families to come out and discover the forest. There are hiking trails for all ages and abilities so everyone can enjoy the fantastic sights and sounds.

The trails at the Wildlife Safari Park in Ashland cover roughly two miles in a serene setting. Families can hike through the Wolf Woods, or head over to Frog Lake, and witness some incredible wildlife and nature up close and personal. The park is home to elk, deer, bison, and many more animals native to the state.

For a family picnic with incredible views, visit Schramm Park in Louisville and explore the bluffs along the river. Take your family exploring around the trout ponds, aquarium, or the geologic display. The 1.3-mile trail at Schramm Park welcomes hikers of all skill levels so you can enjoy the pleasant sounds and wildlife with the whole family.

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Serhii Yurki/Shutterstock.com http://stepoutside.org/article/5-great-hiking-trails-in-nebraska http://stepoutside.org/article/5-great-hiking-trails-in-nebraska Wed, 08 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Beautiful Scenic Hikes in Nebraska Nebraska is home to a beautiful blend of rolling countryside hills mixed with bluffs and rivers winding through the state. With the numerous state parks, it isn’t too difficult to find a hiking trail to get out and explore all of these natural sites. To help you narrow down your options, we’ve put together five of truly beautiful scenic hikes to enjoy in Nebraska.

Smith Falls is the highest waterfall in the state of Nebraska and you can reach it by hiking the Smith Falls trail. This scenic route takes you across a historic truss bridge spanning the Niobrara River until you reach the falls. Nearby, you can also hop on the Jim McAllister Nature Trail, a one-mile trail that weaves through the stunning Niobrara River Valley. Six distinct biological systems are combined in this area, which makes for some incredible wildlife watching.

The Toadstool Geological Park is made up of enormous sandstone creations and still bears the tracks of animals and remnants from a river that flowed through the site nearly 30 million years ago. Hiking the one-mile or three-mile trails through this incredible site feels like you’re walking on the rocky white surface of the moon while you discover unusual yet stunning geological formations.

Indian Cave State Park is located on over 3,000 acres of land and is Nebraska’s second-largest state park. For hikers that wish to leave all modern amenities behind, this is your place. This untouched park offers 22 miles of hiking trails with plenty of amazing spots to stop and see birds, animals, and spectacular views of the forest. The best time to visit is in the autumn for spectacular views of the forest’s fall foliage.

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park in Ashland sits along the Platte River and attracts more than one million visitors every year. The 690-acre park offers year-round, family-friendly hiking trails with fantastic views of the river. There is also a two-mile trail that takes you to an observation tower for even more great views. 

Located just outside of Lincoln, Platte River State Park offers hikers scenic routes through the tranquil Stone Creek Falls. The park also features two observation towers with stunning views of the Platte River. Keep in mind, these trails are for hikers who like a bit of a challenge! A significant portion of the trails is uphill.

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Zack Frank/Shutterstock.com http://stepoutside.org/article/5-beautiful-scenic-hikes-in-nebraska http://stepoutside.org/article/5-beautiful-scenic-hikes-in-nebraska Wed, 08 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Great Paddleboarding Spots in Nebraska There’s nothing like waking up early and getting out on the water when the weather is nice. No matter where you go in Nebraska, there are plenty of places to be surrounded by nature and enjoy some excellent paddleboarding. Here are five great paddleboarding spots in Nebraska to add to your list!

Cunningham Lake in Omaha is a paddleboarder’s paradise. If you’re a beginner, stop into the Neighborhood Offshore to take paddleboarding classes or try paddleboard yoga for a relaxing afternoon on the water. 

If you’re looking to cool off and enjoy the sunshine, head out to Standing Bear Lake for some paddleboarding fun. This lake is smaller than many of the other paddleboarding spots in Nebraska so it stays calmer, even with high winds. There are also plenty of coves and backwaters to explore.

Zorinsky Lake is another favorite spot for paddleboarders because of its awesome backwater channel for exploring the forest. It’s not uncommon to spot deer and birds while paddleboarding on Zorinsky and even though it can be windy at times, it’s still a top choice for paddleboarders in the state. 

One of the closest lakes to Omaha, Lake Manawa is another great spot with no-wake areas for paddleboarders to enjoy. Start your day early out on the water and paddle your way around this beautiful lake that attracts visitors year-round from both Nebraska and Iowa.

As the largest boating lake in the Eastern half of Nebraska, Branched Oak Marina offers plenty of options for recreational activities, including paddleboarding and rentals if needed. Covering nearly 1,800 acres, there are plenty of no-wake spots to get up on your board, catch some rays, and enjoy the summertime.

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iStock.com/kzenon http://stepoutside.org/article/5-great-paddleboarding-spots-in-nebraska http://stepoutside.org/article/5-great-paddleboarding-spots-in-nebraska Mon, 06 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Exhilarating Jet Skiing Spots in Nebraska With dozens of lakes, Nebraska has plenty of water at a jet skier’s disposal. Whether you’re looking to jet ski alone or with friends, you’re certain to come across plenty of fun and exciting spots to get some use out of your watercraft. Here are five great jet skiing spots in Nebraska.

As the largest lake in Omaha that allows jet skis, you can get a lot of time out on the water at Levi Carter Park. The 500-acre Carter Lake offers several amenities, such as a marina, to enjoy a weekend of jet skiing fun.

Lake Manawa is located just outside of Omaha in Council Bluffs, however it is enjoyed by thousands of Nebraskans every year. Lake Manawa allows all kinds of water-based activities, including jet skiing. With 772 acres of lake to enjoy, jet skiers will have no problem carving out their own space. 

Lake McConaughy, situated just outside of Ogallala, is a spectacular location to jet ski on a reservoir on the North Platte River. As Nebraska’s largest lake, there are miles and miles of water to enjoy with friends and family. 

Open year-round, Lake Maloney is just six miles south of North Platte and offers camping, fishing, and allows for plenty of water activities for hours of fun. Grab your jet ski and head out on this 1,000-acre lake to catch some waves and watch some wildlife.

Located in central Nebraska, Calamus Reservoir is a 5,123-acre lake that allows water activities of all kinds—from water skiing to jet skiing. 

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YanLev/Shutterstock.com http://stepoutside.org/article/5-exhilarating-jet-skiing-spots-in-nebraska http://stepoutside.org/article/5-exhilarating-jet-skiing-spots-in-nebraska Mon, 06 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500