Park grounds are open for day use, including hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching. Enjoying time in the parks can provide a relaxing alternative during the present period of concern. The health and safety of our guests is our top priority. Please see the FAQs below to get more information on health and safety measures being implemented and how it may affect your visit.
Q: What office closures at State Parks will impact me?
A: All Nebraska Game and Parks Commission park offices, visitor centers, education centers, and service centers are temporarily closed to the public. Park lodging and cabin rentals are closed through May 8, with a possible extension. Guests with reservations for lodge rooms will be contacted by park personnel to discuss rescheduling or refund options. The closure of the Kiewit Lodge also includes the restaurant and dining room. The Ponderosa Wildlife Management Area field office near Crawford also is temporarily closed to the public until further notice.
All state historical sites are closed to the public until further notice. For more information, please visit the History Nebraska website.
State park and recreation area playgrounds and play structures temporarily closed beginning March 30. The closures are in keeping with national recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which encourages maintaining physical distance’ and limiting in-person social interactions.
Overnight camping is prohibited from Monday, April 6 through Friday, May 8, with a possible extension. We have approximately 3,400 improved campsites (services that include all or a mix of electrical, water, sewer and camp pad), and an estimated 7,500 primitive sites (either designated or undesignated).
Park grounds remain open for day use at this time. We consider day use as those park-related activities that occur within a park primarily from sunrise and until 10 p.m. when traditional quiet hours begin, and not involving an overnight stay. Examples include fishing, hiking, biking, picnicking, wildlife watching, all conducted within the guidelines of social distancing and group size during this present health advisory.
Guests can purchase park permits online or at a self-service station.
Q: What will happen to my reservation? What about future reservations?
A: Refunds will be given to campers who have prepaid fees.
Guests with reservations for parks cabins or lodges through April 30 will be contacted by park personnel to discuss rescheduling or refund options. Transferring your reservation to a later date is encouraged. In order to be accommodating in this tenuous time, exceptions to our current policy may be made on a case-by-case basis for reservations scheduled beyond April 30.
Be assured we have been and continue to use approved CDC cleaning supplies and disinfect areas visited by the public, including our shared facilities. We are focusing especially on disinfecting high-touch and high-traffic surfaces such as doors and door handles, bathroom surfaces, dispensers, sinks, handrails and light switches.
If you have questions or concerns about a future reservation, please call our parks reservation line at 402-471-1414 or online at NebraskaStateParks.ReserveAmerica.com/Messaging
Q: Why can’t NGPC waive permit requirements during this time?
A: Nebraska statutes have no provisions for eliminating the need for a fishing, hunting or park entry permit when an individual is engaging in those activities. As a predominantly self-funded organization, we depend on license fees to fund programming important to Nebraskans.
Q: How will we purchase park permits in the event that an office is closed?
A: We encourage those interested in purchasing park permits and licenses to do so online in advance if possible.
If you are at the park, locate the self-service station, a raised, locked box called an Iron Ranger located near the park entrance or near the park fee signage in our campgrounds. This allows you to purchase daily park entry permits remotely. Iron Rangers are cash and check only.
Certain parks have open kiosks or gatehouses. Open and staffed kiosks will be able to make purchases, give directions, and provide information. These facilities will be routinely disinfected per CDC guidelines.
Q: Is there a discount for park permits at this time? Are there refunds on park permits?
A: There is no discount or refund on daily or annual park passes. Our parks are open year-round and numerous recreation opportunities — including hiking, fishing, wildlife watching, and more — remain available. If you are contemplating the purchase of an annual park entry permit and your ability to utilize it for the entire year, please consider buying daily passes.
Q: What measures are you taking to disinfect public spaces, such as restrooms?
A: We’re taking guidance from the CDC, which recommends regular cleaning and sanitation as one of the most important preventive measures we can take to protect the community. We are disinfecting our facilities continuously throughout each day, focusing especially on high-touch and high-traffic surfaces such as doors and door handles, bathroom surfaces, dispensers, sinks, handrails and light switches.
Q: Are bathroom facilities open?
A: Yes, at our parks, select restroom facilities are still open and are being regularly sanitized by trained parks staff according to CDC guidelines for disinfection. Our public shower buildings, however, are closed to the public until May 8 or until further notice.
Q: Will campground bathrooms have hand sanitizer and soap?
A: Due to the limited availability of some items, we recommend you bring soap for handwashing and hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol where water is not available. The CDC recommends washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and if using hand sanitizer, to cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Q: Is the water on in the parks?
A: Water service is functional at some park areas but not all, as many park areas are still “winterized.” For park specific water availability, we ask you call the park area(s) in question.
Looking ahead, we typically restore water service for facilities such as hydrants, water fountains and modern restrooms in mid-April, depending on weather. In consideration of the current uncertainty, we will monitor the changing directives and recommendations regarding COVID-19 and public-use facilities and make a future determination on when and to what degree we will restore services.
REFUNDS AND CANCELLATIONS
Q: What is the refund/cancellation/transfer policy for cabins, lodging, and camping?
A: While we are taking proactive measures to protect our customers and our employees, including using approved cleaning supplies and disinfecting areas that are frequently visited by the public, reservations for lodging may be rescheduled or, in some cases, refunded. In order to be accommodating in this tenuous time, exceptions to our current policy may be made on a case-by-case basis. Transferring to a later date is encouraged. If you have questions or concerns about your reservation, please contact the park where your reservation is held.
Q: What do I do if I need to change my park reservation?
A: Call our parks reservation line at 402-471-1414 or email CJ.Zajicek@nebraska.gov.
Q: Why are you canceling events through May 31?
A: To protect the health and well-being of our community, our official agency response plan is to cancel all agency-sponsored events and programs through May 31 or until further notice. At this time, these events will not be rescheduled. Follow us on Facebook for new event announcements as they become available.
Reference our Outdoor Calendar to view the most up-to-date event information.
Q: Is the Cowboy Trail open for use?
A: Yes, it’s a great time to go out and stretch your legs, self-isolate and enjoy what the Cowboy Trail has to offer. We remind you that some areas of the trail have been closed due to flooding from 2019. Map your route at maps.outdoornebraska.gov/trails/.
Q: Are there water trails open for use?
A: If you’re looking for some paddle therapy to cure your cabin fever, check out our list of water trails at: outdoornebraska.gov/watertrails, or throw in a line and go kayak fishing at one of our lakes: maps.outdoornebraska.gov/fishing. Water trails are open year-round but always research before you get out on the water. It is still relatively cold; only go on the water if you have proper equipment and gear. Check your put-in and take-out locations for damage prior to embarking and keep an eye out for debris. Wear a life jacket.
HUNTING & FISHING
Q: Will Nebraska’s archery or shotgun turkey seasons be affected by COVID-19?
A: The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is suspending the sale of nonresident spring turkey hunting permits in a proactive effort to prevent the potential for the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). This is being done by the Commission in coordination with Gov. Pete Ricketts Executive Order No. 20-11 to help protect the health of Nebraskans by discouraging unnecessary travel.
Game and Parks will stop selling 2020 nonresident spring turkey permits effective immediately. Nonresidents who have purchased permits will be able to use them, but will not be able to purchase additional permits. Nonresidents with Nebraska turkey permits will be contacted by Game and Parks through email within the next week with additional information, including potential refunds.
Resident turkey permits are available online at outdoornebraska.gov/wildturkey.
Nebraska’s spring turkey season opened March 25 for archers. The shotgun season opens April 11 for youth and April 18 for adults. All turkey seasons close May 31.
The Commission reminds all hunters to honor CDC, state and local health regulations when hunting. Honor social distancing guidelines, staying at least 6 feet away from your fellow hunters and from property owners on whose land you’ve already gained permission to hunt. Avoid knocking on doors to gain last-minute hunting permission.
Where possible, identify potential hunting locations early using our Public Access Guide. If hunting on lands not in the public access guide, contact landowners by phone or email ahead of time; and share contact information so you can let landowners know when you are arriving to reduce person-to-person contact.
Per the CDC guidelines, any person who is sick, has a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, has knowingly been exposed to sick individuals, or has travelled outside of the country or to any areas with the community spread of COVID-19 should remain at home.
Q: Are the trout stockings still occurring?
A: Yes, fish stockings are still being carried out as scheduled. At this time, there is no plan to change or alter those schedules.
Q: Is the Trout Lake still open?
A: Yes, the Trout Lake at Two Rivers State Recreation Area is fully stocked with catchable-size rainbow trout and is open for fishing. Trout tags are being sold via self-service.
Q: Are ALL fishing tournaments before May 31 canceled?
A: To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission is canceling all NGPC agency organized fishing events and tournaments through May 31, 2020, or until further notice. If you have questions about whether or not a non-NGPC organized fishing tournament has been cancelled, please contact the tournament organizer located on the 2020 fishing tournament schedule at outdoornebraska.gov/fishingtournaments/.
Q: Can I still go fishing?
A: YES! Fishing is a healthy activity and remains so. Anglers can easily practice social distancing while enjoying time on the water. There is plenty of water to fish, spread out and GO FISH!