In response to a demand for unique experiences and enhanced camping opportunities, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has been expanding activities and amenities at four popular state parks and recreation areas along the Platte River– Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, Platte River State Park, Schramm Park State Recreation Area and Louisville State Recreation Area. The expanded features, called Venture Parks, were possible thanks to innovative public/private partnerships.
Crawdad Creek invites guests to get into the water, get muddy and explore. This attraction is a series of small, interactive ponds where both children and adults can splash, play and explore. The interactive feature hosts aquatic invertebrates, insects, reptiles and fish for visitors to see and interact with. Catch minnows, tadpoles, crawdads and frogs and interact with the natural world. Park naturalists will use the ponds and the organisms that call them home in educational activities for park visitors.
The new spray park, one of the only two-tiered spray parks in the region, includes various spray features, three water slides, a waterfall, dump buckets with a fountain, squirt guns center and more. The features were designed for use by pre-schoolers all the way up to young teens. It’s a great place for families to beat the heat and have fun during the summer months.
The canoe and kayak access point by Owen Landing opened as part of the Venture Park Initiative. The access point, a few yards from the mouth of Decker Creek on the Platte River serves as a stopping point on a water trail between at Schramm Park State Recreation Area and Louisville State Recreation Area.
Three new glamping cabins combine upscale comfort with camping. These secluded cabins feature skylights and queen-sized beds that can be rolled onto a deck for sleeping under the stars. With polished concrete floors, a raised stone fire pit and many windows to let in the natural sunlight, our glamping cabins combine modern comforts and rustic charm.
RV campers have a new place to camp! The brand new campground is tailored for use by recreational vehicles. The new, state-of-the-art campground has 49 full hookup concrete pads with electric, water and sewer.
Mountain bikers have been riding the trails carved into the bluffs at Platte River State Park for decades, its hills and rocks providing a challenge many yearn for, with the scenery providing the icing on the cake. Now they have a new set of singletrack trails loaded with unique features all for themselves as part of an addition to the park that could become a mountain bike destination for riders from across the country.
Along with 4.4 miles of new trails, mostly tailored to intermediate and advanced riders, are features that include stair-steps, drop-offs, a boardwalk, log rides, curved wall rides, numerous switchbacks, a launch pad, flat ramps, low-water crossings and table top ramps. A new access road on 358th Street, a mile east of the park’s main entrance, leads to a new parking lot and trailhead, which is equipped with a restroom and a repair station. A skills track near the trailhead will help riders test their abilities before heading out into the hills.
Kids of all ages can enjoy Platte River State Park’s natural playgrounds that engage their senses. They can also develop their climbing skills on a rock wall with opportunities for a variety of skill levels.
Get ready for a totally unique outdoor experience. Way more than just zip lines, Go Ape is a 2-3-hour journey through the forest canopy. This high-ropes adventure course features suspended obstacles, breathtaking zip lines and incredible views.
Mahoney State Park’s Venture Climb, housed in a new, state-of-the-art addition to the Activity Center, features a 42-foot climbing wall with both auto- and top-rope belays, as well as a bouldering structure. Climbers are treated to scenic views of the park through the facility’s floor-to-ceiling windows.
Venture Climb is great for both novice and experienced climbers and is ADA-accessible. Admission is $11 for adults and $10 for children age 12 and under. Equipment rental is included with admission price. Personal equipment is permitted but must first be inspected and approved by a Venture Climb employee. There is no time limit for climbing.
Those who wish to use the facility must fit into a harness provided by the park. All climbers must sign a waiver in person prior to using the facility. A parent must sign the waiver for climbers 18 and younger.
Winter hours for the Activity Center, including Venture Climb are: Monday, Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The center and climbing facility are closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The grassy slope on the east side of the activity center has been resculpted for sledding and tubing. The sledding hill is complete with a snow guns and a groomer. Groomed runs are available when conditions allow.
Louisville State Recreation Area’s new floating playground offers exciting and challenging obstacles including a climbing wall, dome, monkey bars and much more on Lake #2. In addition, visitors can rent watercycles and paddleboards.
A new access point is available on the Platte River for canoe/kayak and float trips. The access point has parking and a concrete airboat ramp. This is a great get-out point for a float from Schramm Park State Recreation Area.
Access for canoeing, kayaking and other water-based recreation on the Platte River has been expanded. This is a great launching point for a float trip to Louisville State Recreation Area. Parking is available.
The popular Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium has been completely remodeled and expanded into an interactive state-of-the-art nature center featuring the state’s river, pond and lake systems. The new education center is open to the public as of May 1, 2019.
Schramm Park’s already popular network of biking and hiking trails are being enhanced this summer.
What to expect during construction
During the development, park goers should expect to see construction. Some facilities may close temporarily and/or have reduced hours or access. After implementation of the initial venture parks concept is complete, the goal is to incorporate elements of the plan into other parks across the state as funding and opportunities allow.