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COVID-19 FAQ’S

Enjoying time outdoors while practicing safe health measures can provide a relaxing alternative during the present period of concern. The health and well-being of Nebraskans and caring for our natural and cultural resources are our top priorities.

Please see the FAQs below for more information on what we’re doing to protect Nebraskans and how it may affect your visit. If you have specific park questions related to your next trip, please call the park you plan to visit. Find your park here.

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General

How will I be able to find updates on when parks and services are open?

Visit OutdoorNebraska.org or call the park you plan to visit between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Central time Monday through Friday.

Fishing & Hunting

Fishing

Can I still go fishing?

Yes, anglers can easily practice social distancing while enjoying time on the water or bank fishing. Anglers can fish from shore as long as it is not within a buoyed or closed area of the shoreline. Social distancing and group size limits prevail. Remember to spread out.

Can I still fish from the bank?

Yes, guests will still be able to fish from the shore as long as it is not within a buoyed or closed area of the shoreline. Social distancing and group size limits will still prevail.

Fishing FAQs

Is the Trout Lake still open?

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.

Are fish cleaning stations open?

Many fish cleaning stations close for the winter. Those that remain open may close or re-close depending on the public health situation in specific areas of the state. If you have specific questions about your next fishing trip, call the park you plan to visit. Find your park here.

Hunting

Will non-residents be able to hunt in Nebraska this year?

At this time there are NO restrictions on nonresidents purchasing permits or recreating in Nebraska. While that could change, whether it will is entirely unknown. There are no current plans to make any such restrictions, but no one knows what the future holds.

Will we allow out-of-state residents to hunt during the big game seasons?

Yes, provided that the decision is in line with state and local directed health measures in place in the fall. As of Jan. 11, 2021, state-to-state travel is acceptable for most Nebraska counties, with a few exceptions.

If health measures should change, we may re-evaluate our policy. Any changes will be provided here, on our social and through direct emails to customers.

Those choosing to hunt Nebraska lands this fall should honor CDC, state and local health regulations when hunting, including honoring social distancing guidelines with fellow hunters and 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.

If non-residents aren’t allowed to hunt, can they get a refund and have their points reinstated (if applicable)?

Should we need to suspend hunting permits, we will be in direct contact with nonresident hunters who have already purchased permits for potential refunds.

We anticipate that just as out-of-state hunters were able to use their turkey hunting permits already purchased in spring 2020 – but were not able to purchase additional permits – that nonresident hunters also would be able to use permits already purchased. Should that change, information will be provided here, on our social and through direct contact with customers.

Park use

Can I use state parks and recreation areas?

Park grounds remain open for recreation, including fishing, hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, and other activities. For specific recreation opportunities related to your next trip, please call the park you plan to visit. Find your park here.

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State park and recreation area playgrounds and play structures are open.

We remind park guests to recreate responsibly and take personal precautions, such as using hand sanitizer, when using high-risk areas.

Guests still need their parks permit, which can be purchased online or at a self-service station. Fishing permits also can be purchased online or at participating vendors.

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What park facilities are open?

Select state park area service centers are open for customer service, information and permit sales. Amenities such as interpretive displays and gift shops may not be available. Restrooms may be open. All park service center visitors must wear a face mask.

  • Ash Hollow SHP office: Public access to service counter only; display areas are closed for the winter.
  • Branched Oak SRA office: Open for public entry.
  • Calamus Reservoir SRA office: Open for public entry.
  • Chadron State Park office: Open for public entry.
  • Fort Atkinson State Historical Park office: Public access to service counter only; display areas are closed for the winter.
  • Fort Robinson State Park office: Open for public entry.
  • Fremont SRA office: Open for public entry.
  • Johnson Lake SRA and Lake Maloney SRA: Self-service stations are available for guests.
  • Lake McConaughy SRA office: Public access to service counter only; no public allowed into the display areas at this time.
  • Lewis and Clark SRA office: No public entry; customers will be served through sliding windows; the marina store will be open.
  • Louisville SRA: No public entry into the building; customers will be served through sliding windows.
  • Mahoney State Park: Administration office open for public entry; Peter Kiewit Lodge, Owen Marina concessions and miniature golf open.
  • Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Education Center, Lincoln: Open for public entry.
  • Niobrara State Park office: Open for public entry.
  • Pawnee SRA office: Open for public entry.
  • Peter Kiewit Lodge front desk: Open for public entry.
  • Platte River State Park office: Open for public entry.
  • Ponca State Park office: Public access to service counter only; Missouri National Recreational River Interpretive Center is open.
  • Rock Creek Station SHP office: Closed for the winter.
  • Schramm Education Center: Public access to service counter; displays and exhibits are limited for the safety for visitors and staff.
  • Two Rivers SRA office: Open for public entry.
  • Wildcat Hills Shooting Range: Open to the public.
  • Wildcat Hills SRA office: Public access to service counter; displays and exhibits are limited for the safety for visitors and staff.
  • Windmill and Mormon Island SRA’s: Self-service stations are available for guests.

Are any facilities still closed?

While the historical parks grounds will be open, facilities are closed for winter. For more information on History Nebraska sites, visit history.nebraska.gov.

Our hatcheries — Rock Creek in Dundy County, North Platte in Lincoln County, Valentine in Cherry County and Calamus in Garfield County — are closed to the public. The buildings at the Grove Trout Rearing Station in Antelope County are closed, while the grounds are open.

Other Game and Parks offices; service, visitor and education centers; museums and historic buildings; shooting complexes; field offices; state park restaurants; lodges; and public crane viewing blinds may be closed or re-close depending on the public health situation in specific areas of the state.

Are trails open?

Yes, it’s a great time to go out and stretch your legs, self-isolate and enjoy what our trails have to offer. Map your route at maps.outdoornebraska.gov/trails. We remind you that some areas of the Cowboy Trail have been closed due to flooding from 2019.

Are water trails open for use?

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 public lakes. Water trails are open year-round but always research before you get out on the water and only go on the water if you have proper equipment and gear.

Lodging

Am I able to reserve a cabin and are there any limitations?

Cabins are open for reservations at Eugene T. Mahoney, Platte River, Ponca, Niobrara, Fort Robinson and Chadron state parks, as well as Lewis and Clark, Two Rivers, Victoria Springs, and Medicine Creek Reservoir state recreation areas. Reservations are subject to availability and can be made online.

Guests can call park offices for more details; find park contact information here.

Park contact info

Guests are encouraged to bring their own hand sanitizer during their stay. The number of linens available in the cabins will be limited to control laundry, so guests are asked to conserve or reuse linens during their stay.

Make your reservation online.

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Camping

All reservation-only and first-come, first-serve campsites — approximately 3,400 improved campsites and an estimated 7,500 primitive sites — are available to all camping units, including RV’s, camping trailers and tents.

Are any camping sites closed?

All camping sites at our state park and recreation areas are open and will remain that way unless the health situation warrants future closures based upon the recommendation of health officials.

Are all spots already booked?

Campsites remain available to reserve at various locations across the state. Keep in mind that reservable sites are in high demand throughout the summer season, particularly on weekends and holiday periods, and many spots are booked in advance. However, numerous opportunities still exist throughout the state. Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance at OutdoorNebraska.org and must be made at least three days in advance of one’s stay.

Make your reservation at OutdoorNebraska.org, by contacting the agency call center at 402-471-1414, or by contacting the specific park where you want to camp.

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Will Game and Parks be policing campgrounds for social spacing and group size compliance by the public?

Yes. Park regulations allow for up to eight people per campsite, and in order to protect public health, we all need to do our part to recreate responsibly. Game and Parks will monitor sites for compliance with the directed health measures set forth by statewide health directives for the safety of the public.

Will offices be open where camping is allowed?

Many park offices are open, but not all are (find the list of openings above on this page). Guests are encouraged to make reservations and provide payment in advance for their camping fees and park permits online. For first-come, first-served camping, or if a guest is unable to purchase a park permit in advance, payment can be made at an iron ranger located at each park area, and then attaching the proper portion of the temporary permit to their windshield.

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Reservations, refunds and cancellations

What about future reservations?

If you have questions or concerns about a future reservation or what to reschedule, please send us an email through our Reservation Inquiry form or call our parks reservation line at 402-471-1414 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Central time Monday through Friday.

View individual parks reservation contact information

Inquiry form

What number do I call to get a refund for my reservation or reschedule?

Decisions on refunds will be made on a case-by-case basis now that most services have resumed. Contact us by email through our Reservation Inquiry form or through our parks reservation line at 402-471-1414.

Inquiry form

Can I book a reservation beyond 30 days out?

Starting July 1, 2020, the year-to-date reservation process returned for cabins, lodge rooms meeting rooms, group lodges, cabooses, pavilions, and picnic shelters.
Starting February 1, 2021, RV and tent camping reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance and must be made at least one three days in advance of one’s stay. The 180-day booking window was determined based on current public health conditions and takes into account statewide and nationwide reservation trends and public input. This new reservation window will be evaluated throughout 2021 and may be adjusted in the future.

Adjustments due to COVID-19 previously had limited the reservation booking window in an effort to increase camping opportunity and satisfy the increased demand for outdoor recreation that resulted from the novel disease.

Health and safety

What measures are you taking to disinfect public spaces, such as restrooms?

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 routinely, using only cleaners recommended on the CDC list for COVID-19 effectiveness, and are focusing on high-touch and high-traffic surfaces such as doors and door handles, bathroom surfaces, handrails and light switches. Specialized air filters have been install in buildings throughout the state.

Watch our video showing the process here.

Are restroom facilities open?

Yes, all our restroom facilities opened to the public June 4. Restrooms typically close during the winter season.

Will restrooms have hand sanitizer and soap?

Availability of sanitation and personal protection equipment is limited nationally. 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.

What should I do if severe weather occurs when camping?

If a weather emergency occurs, the National Weather Service recommends campers seek shelter in a substantial building or hard-topped vehicle and wait for 30 minutes after the storm before resuming activities. NWS does not advise remaining in tents, campers, pop-up trailers, or other similar camp units during severe weather. Learn more about becoming a weather-ready camper at www.weather.gov.

Buying permits

How will we purchase park permits while parks offices are closed?

We encourage those interested in purchasing park permits and licenses to do so online in advance if possible. Fishing licenses are not available to purchase at parks.

If you are at the park, look for the self-service station, a raised, locked box called an Iron Ranger that is near the park entrance or near the park fee signage in our campgrounds. This allows you to purchase daily park entry permits remotely and pay for walk-up camping. Iron Rangers are cash and check only.

Certain parks also have open kiosks or gatehouses for purchases, directions, and other information. These facilities will be routinely disinfected per CDC guidelines.

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Why didn't NGPC waive permit requirements during the initial closures?

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. State parks’ grounds have remained open to day-use activities and have not been closed to the public.

COVID-19 response

Find out more about our response to the COVID-19 public health situation.

Health Info