Fort Kearny State Recreation Area

Fort Kearny Master Plan Now Available

The Fort Kearny Master Plan is available on the Publications and Resources page, under Agency Plans. Click HERE to view all Game and Parks plans. Thank you to everyone that contributed to the planning process for Fort Kearny.

  • Biking
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Picnicking
  • Playground
  • Swimming

Fort Kearny State Recreation Area offers 186 acres dotted with sandpit lakes. In the spring, the world’s largest concentration of sandhill cranes and waterfowl gathers in the central Platte River valley. Facilities include camping, showers, dump and fill station, modern restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables, grills, picnic shelters, accessible fishing pier, nature trail, non-power boating and hike-bike trail. Fort Kearny State Historical Park and visitor interpretive center is located 3 miles west of the state recreation area.

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Fort Kearny State Recreation Area has seven pit lakes that total 21 acres of water. Anglers will find bluegill, channel catfish, crappie and largemouth bass, among other species. Rainbow trout is stocked seasonally in Lake 6. Lake 2 is catch-and-release for all catfish species, and there’s a 21-inch minimum length limit for black bass. Accessible fishing decks are located on lakes 6 and 7.

For more information on fishing opportunities here and at parks across the state, visit the interactive public fishing areas map. This map provides detailed information on available species, regulations, public boat ramps, fish cleaning stations and ADA-accessible boat ramps and docks, among other features in reservoirs, lakes, streams and rivers statewide. Lake contour maps are available for some lakes, as well.


Only no-wake boating is permitted at Fort Kearny State Recreation Area. There are no boat ramps or docks.


Lake 7 offers a designated swimming area with a beach. No lifeguards are on duty. A modern restroom and picnic shelter are located near the beach. The beach is open from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day..

Horse Trail Rides

Fort Kearny now offers trail rides beginning at the boy scout campground and traveling through the long grass prairie on the north side of the campgrounds and lakes in an approximately 3 mile loop. Trail rides are reservation only. Please call Christine Wilson at (308)320-4908.

Hike-bike trail

The unique Fort Kearny Hike-Bike Trail begins at the park and extends 1.8 miles to Bassway Strip Wildlife Management Area, crossing both channels of the Platte River and was once a segment of the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad. Flora and fauna of the Platte Valley can be enjoyed from this trail or from another that follows the old 1864 river channel. In winter, both trails are popular with cross-country skiers. The bridges that cross the Platte River make an excellent place to view the Sandhill Cranes during spring the spring migration at dawn and dusk. A trail map is available at the Fort Kearny State Historical Park visitor center.


Day-use facilities are open year-round and include picnic tables, shelters, grills, drinking water and playground equipment.

Crane viewing

Fort Kearny State Recreation Area is an excellent place to view sandhill cranes during spring migration. The interpretive center at adjoining Fort Kearny State Historical Park is open daily during peak migration and serves as an information center for crane viewers. The bridges over the Platte River on the hike-bike trail are a popular place to observe the cranes at dusk and dawn.

Fort Kearny Outdoor Expo

Held annually the first weekend in May, the Fort Kearny Outdoor Expo gives individuals of all ages and experience levels the opportunity to try their hand at archery, shooting sports, kayaking, rock climbing, fishing and many other outdoor activities. Additionally, various exhibits give both youth and adults the chance to see Nebraska fish and wildlife species up close. While a park permit is required, all activities are offered free of charge.



Fort Kearny is a year-round recreation area that provides Electric Plus, Electric and Basic camping. There are showers and modern restrooms, plus a dump and fill station. Stately cottonwood trees, some over 100 years old, shade much of the camping area.

Fort Kearny SRA offers two campgrounds, East and West. East Campground offers Electric Plus sites and the West Campground offers Electric Plus, Electric and Basic campsites.

Camping reservations are available for half of the electrical campsites. All other camping is all first-come, first-served and campers register their nightly camping fees in a raised, locked box called an Iron Ranger. Self-service envelopes are provided at each Iron Ranger station. Check or cash only. Iron Rangers are generally located near the park entrance or in the campground area. On-site camping informational signs are provided to help guide campers with the self-registration process.



A park entry permit is required and may be purchased at the park, statewide Game and Parks offices and permit vendors or in advance of your arrival online.


Contact Information

Address: Fort Kearny SRA | 1020 V Road | Kearney, NE 68847-9804
Phone: (308) 865-5305

Email: Send email