Park FAQs

Following are answers to questions frequently asked by park visitors.

How much does it cost to camp at a State Park, State Historical Park or State Recreation Area?

Nebraska’s state parks, state historical parks and state recreation areas offer five different levels of camping: full hookup ($35 per night); electric plus ($30 per night); electric ($25 per night); basic ($15 per night); and primitive ($10 per night). These rates are consistent across all parks throughout the state and went into effect Jan. 1, 2019, with the exception of Lake McConaughy, which is subject to an additional $2 per night. More information on each type of camp site, including amenities, electrical hookups and more is available for download.

Do I need a Park Entry Permit to enter any State Park, State Historical Park or State Recreation Area?

Yes, a Park Entry Permit is required for any motorized vehicle to enter any Nebraska State Park, State Historical Park or State Recreation Area.

What is the campground policy for walk-in campsites?

In order to create fair camping opportunities for as many guests as possible, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission updated its campground reservation policy in 2017. The updated campground regulations state:

A summary of the park regulations on occupying a first-come, first-served walk-in campsite in a Nebraska state park or recreation area:

  • A campsite must be properly registered for and paid for before a patron can physically occupy any site.
  • All motorized vehicles must display a valid park entry permit.
  • A campsite is deemed physically occupied when a camping unit or a shelter defined for camping is erected upon the campsite; (camping trailer, fifth-wheel trailer, motor home, travel trailer, conversion van, truck camper, or a fully erected tent that is commercially designed for occupancy by a person). Visitors cannot hold a site by paying and simply placing a tag on the camp post or by placing a tarp, cooler or parking a car on the site.
  • A camping unit is required on the site immediately to finalize the purchase.
  • To provide flexibility for special circumstances, visitors may be allowed until noon the following day to have a camping unit on the site. This is per park superintendent or park superintendent designee’s discretion. Approval must be given and if the camping unit doesn’t arrive by noon the following day, the site will be open for other campers. Guests will only be able to register for a single night until the camping unit is properly placed. This is the exception and not the norm.
  • Campers may not camp longer than 14 consecutive days in a park area or campground during any 30-day period. To stay longer than 14 consecutive days, requires approval from park superintendent and their decision will be based upon demand and occupancy levels in the campground or park at the time of request.

More information on the campground policy is available on the campground policy page.

Are pets permitted?

Yes, there is a $15 one-time pet fee per unit for pets staying in cabins. Service animals are exempt. Pets are not allowed in the lodge rooms, however pets are allowed in campgrounds. All animals within the park must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet, crated or caged.

Can my dog swim in the swimming areas?

No, public buildings, designated swimming beaches and pools are off-limits to all animals except Seeing Eye and service dogs. At select park areas such as Lake McConaughy SRA, dogs must be maintained on a leash to protect endangered species nesting areas (Least Tern and Piping Plover).

What are the rules for taking photos and video?

Amateur photography and videography, including nature photography and videography, family, wedding and senior photography, and recreational photography are permitted in state parks and recreation areas. Commercial photography and videography that involve models, sets and props for the purpose of promoting goods, services or brands requires a special occasion permit, which can be downloaded from our website.

Are ATV’s allowed?

ATVs are not permitted. Golf carts and motorized scooters are allowed if you have a Motorized Transportation Device Permit.

Is alcohol permitted?

Alcohol is permitted at all areas except at Lake McConaughy and Willow Creek State Recreation Areas. Consumption of alcoholic beverage is prohibited on state property from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., which are the designated quiet hours in campgrounds, parking lots and designated beaches. No containers over one gallon are allowed.

Which parks allow fireworks?

Six SRAs allow fireworks in designated firework areas. These areas are Branched Oak, Fort Kearny, Memphis, Fremont, Pawnee and Wagon Train. This is dependent on conditions and local fire department authority. Only fireworks approved for sale in Nebraska by the State Fire Marshal are permitted to be brought into the SRAs that allow fireworks.

Can I build a fire anywhere?

No, fires can only be built in designated areas.

Does Nebraska offer any discounts for veterans, handicapped or senior citizens for camping/lodging?

No, Nebraska does not offer any camping/lodging discounts for veterans, handicapped or senior citizens. Nebraska does offer a 30 percent discount on lodging/camping in our parks during the non-peak season (when the water is shut off). Nebraska also has a Free Park and Fish Day for residents and nonresidents.

Do I need a permit to host a special event in a park?

Yes, a Special Occasion Permit may be requested by individuals or groups who would like to utilize our areas for events including but not limited to: weddings, fishing tournaments, 5k runs, fundraisers, Boy Scout events, scientific studies, commercial filming, geocache placements, etc.

Learn more 

How do I pay for camping and my park entry permit if I arrive after hours or there is no office at the park?

Self-service boxes are available for depositing fees when the entry station is not staffed.

How do I make reservations for camping/lodging?

You may make reservation by calling 402-471-1414 9 a.m.-6 p.m. CT Monday through Friday (closed on state holidays). Online reservations may be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Reservations are accepted for cabins, lodge rooms, and group lodges up to one year in advance of the arrival date at 9 a.m. CT. Reservations for camping are accepted up to 180 days in advance of arrival date at 9 a.m. CT. For more information regarding our reservation policies, please visit our
reservations page.

What is the difference between a State Park, State Recreation Area and a State Historical Park?

State Parks are public use areas of significant scenic, scientific and/or historical values and of sufficient
size to allow adequate development. From our standpoint, State Parks are destination areas. They have many amenities available daily to guests, ranging from swimming and paddle boating to horse trail rides and jeep rides. Entertainment is offered and it is up to the guest how much or little they would like to participate.

State Recreation Areas are areas that possess resource values primarily associated with active outdoor recreation pursuits, day-use activities and camping. All the state’s major water-oriented areas fall in this
classification. State Recreation Areas are mainly situated along bodies of water. Guests provide their own entertainment, primarily fishing and boating.

State Historical Parks are sites that have notable historical significance to the State of Nebraska. State Historical Parks offer a chance for cultural interpretation. Living history demonstrations are periodically staged and guests can tour the historic grounds and buildings.

How do I apply for a job at a park?

Visit our careers page to view open jobs at state parks and recreation areas, as well as throughout the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.