Nebraska National Parks
Explore some famous markers along the trail of Westward Expansion and discover some ancient fossils along the way. Come #FindYourPark in Nebraska.
Nebraska National Parks
Table of Contents
5 National Parks in Nebraska
Other NPS-Affiliated Sites in Nebraska
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument - Harrison, NE
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument was designated on June 5, 1965 and is renowned for its exceptional fossil deposits, particularly the Miocene Epoch fossils dating back to 19 to 20 million years ago. The name "Agate" is derived from the colorful agate rock formations found in the region.
The visitor center provides informative exhibits and displays that showcase the significance of the fossil discoveries, including the famous mammalian fossils found in the region. The Quarry Exhibit Hall allows visitors to view a large quantity of well-preserved fossils, providing a rare and close-up look at the ancient creatures that once roamed this landscape. Additionally, the park offers outdoor recreational activities such as hiking and birdwatching.
California National Historic Trail - CA, CO, ID, KS, MO, NE, NV, OR, UT, WY
The California National Historic Trail is an incredible 2,000 miles long and recounts the journey of over 250,000 people who made their way to California during the 1840's and 50's searching for gold, prosperity, and a better life. It was the greatest mass migration in American history. The trail runs roughly from Independence, MO to Sacramento, CA, and spans ten states - California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.
Passport sites and interpretive centers exist along the route in several states. A modern-day auto route is also available for those wanting to trace the trail by car.
Homestead National Monument of America - Beatrice, NE
Homestead National Monument of America commemorates the Homestead Act of 1862 allowing individuals to claim 160 acres of public land in exchange for improving the land by building a dwelling and cultivating crops. Millions of Americans, including immigrants, took advantage of this opportunity to become landowners and create new lives on the frontier.
The park includes the Homestead Heritage Center, which houses interactive displays and films that provide insights into the lives of homesteaders and the challenges they faced. The Freeman School, a one-room schoolhouse from the late 19th century, is also a part of the monument and allows visitors to step back in time and experience a historic school environment.
The Park was designated as a national monument on March 19, 1936.
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail - PA, OH, WV, KY, IN, ID, IL, IA, KS, MO, MT, NE, ND, OR, SD, WA
The Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail marks the historic journey by Merriweather Lewis and William Clark along 4,900 miles of wilderness from Pennsylvania all the way to the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon. The Trail connects 16 states - Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon - and includes museums, landmarks, exhibits, and Visitor Centers along the route. For a complete list of markers and things to see and do, click here.
Missouri National Recreational River - Yankton, SD, NE
Missouri National Recreational River runs along the border between South Dakota and Nebraska. This stretch of the Missouri River has been preserved to showcase the river's vital role in the westward expansion of the United States and its significance as a source of water, transportation, and sustenance.
The park provides opportunities for boating, fishing, and canoeing and also offers several hiking trails that lead to stunning river overlooks and serene natural settings.
Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail - IL, IA, NE, UT, WY
The Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail marks the path taken by the Mormon Pioneers led by Brigham Young on their journey from Illinois to Utah, beginning in 1846. On July 24, 1847, Brigham Young arrived in what is now Salt Lake City, Utah to begin a new life with his fellow Mormons.
The 1,300 mile route begins in Nauvoo, Illinois, and moves through the states of Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Utah. Modern-Day auto routes with maps are available with many sites along the way for guests to visit. The Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail was made part of the National Trails System on November 10, 1978.
Niobrara National Scenic River - Valentine, NE
The Niobrara National Scenic River flows through a remote and unspoiled region of the Sandhills and is renowned for its crystal-clear waters, lush woodlands, and striking rock formations, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Oregon National Historic Trail - ID, KS, MO, NE, OR, WA, WY
Beginning in Independence, Missouri and ending some 2,130 miles later in Oregon City, Oregon, and passing through seven states along the way, the Oregon Trail was the passage west for many settlers looking for a new life. The Oregon National Historic Trail marks the stories, landmarks, and landscapes of this incredible 4-month long journey made during the mid-1800's.
Today, there are several ways to experience the trail, with the most popular being by car. Maps citing various markers in each state are available to help you plan your journey . Of course, you don't have to travel the entire 2,000 miles to enjoy the trail, but for the purists who like to collect NPS Passport Stamps, you will find them at various Visitor Centers along the route here:
- Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument Visitor Center - Idaho
- Craters of the Moon National Historic Site - Idaho
- Three Island Crossing State Park - Idaho
- Shawnee Methodist Indian Mission State Historic Site - Kansas
- Hollenberg Pony Express Station State Historical Site - Kansas
- Marysville Chamber of Commerce & Convention & Visitors Bureau - Kansas
- Harry S. Truman National Historic Site - Missouri
- Trailside Center - Missouri
- Alexander Majors House Museum - Missouri
- National Frontier Trails Museum - Missouri
- Scotts Bluff National Monument - Nebraska
- Homestead National Monument of America - Nebraska
- Flagstaff Hill/National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center - Oregon
- McLoughlin House - Oregon
- Fort Vancouver National Historic Site - Washington
- National Historic Trails Interpretive Center - Wyoming
- Martin's Cove - Wyoming
- Fort Bridger State Historic Park - Wyoming
-Fossil Butte National Monument - Wyoming
Pony Express National Historic Trail - CA, CO, KS, MO, NE, NV, UT, WY
Before there was the telegraph, the most efficient method for getting messages across the country was the Pony Express. Riders could get a piece of mail from Saint Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California - 2,005 miles - in just ten days. As thousands of settlers traveled west along the Oregon Trail during the mid-1800's, along with the height of the Gold Rush and the Mormon migration, the need arose to get mail quickly to the West. Although the Pony Express only existed for eighteen months in 1860-1861, it became synonymous with the Old West.
Today, you can trace the Pony Express National Historic Trail at various points throughout Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California. Check here for sites and points of interest in each state. The Pony Express National Historic Trail was designated by Congress in 1992.
Scotts Bluff National Monument - Gering, NE
Scotts Bluff takes its name from the prominent rock formation which was a significant landmark along the Oregon Trail and other westward migration routes during the 19th century. The formation provided a recognizable point for travelers, many of whom were heading to the Pacific coast in search of new opportunities.
Visitors to Scotts Bluff National Monument can delve into the history of westward expansion, the Oregon Trail, and the challenges faced by pioneers on their journey to the West. The park features interpretive programs, exhibits, and visitor centers that provide insights into the trials and tribulations faced by those who passed through this region. A highlight of the monument is the Saddle Rock Trail, which offers panoramic views of the North Platte Valley and allows visitors to hike in the footsteps of pioneers.
The park also offers scenic drives and picnicking areas, providing opportunities to enjoy the natural beauty and geological formations of the area.