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9 state parks with beautiful skies, good camping

storm clouds rolling above a campground where a camper, truck and boat are parked
Camping beneath Nebraska skies offers rejuvenating relaxation at Sherman Reservoir State Recreation Area, where big skies, gorgeous sunsets and dark night skies attract campers. Eric Fowler, Nebraskaland Magazine/ Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Camping offers the best type of relaxation made better by brilliant starry skies or with awe-inspiring sunsets. So plan your next trip beneath Nebraska skies at one of these nine Nebraska state parks known for amazing views and good camping opportunities.

Niobrara State Park

It’s hard to beat the scenic views at Niobrara State Park in northeastern Nebraska. Filled with curving hills, the park offers stunning overlooks of the Missouri River, beautiful sunsets and sunrises, and amazing views of the Milky Way. In addition, the park offers both tent and RV camping, as well as equestrian camping. Not a camper? Book a cabin along the bluffs for a view of the Missouri River outside your cabin windows.

During your stay, enjoy watching wildlife like birds, deer and turkeys, as well as hiking, fishing, geocaching, and horseback rides and swimming in the park pool during the summer months.

Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area

If you’re seeking some stargazing during your camping trip, this is the park to visit. Located in north-central Nebraska, Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area is the first Nebraska site certified by DarkSky International, the recognized authority on light pollution, after a rigorous, years-long application process. Merritt Reservoir’s remote Sandhills location provides spectacular astronomical views and is home to the Nebraska Star Party each summer.

Campers will find Electric Plus and Basic campsites with numerous camping options over several campgrounds. When you visit, make sure to take advantage of the great fishing – walleye, crappie and white bass have long been favorites with anglers here. Boating, hunting and picnicking are other fun options.

Rock Creek Station State Recreation Area

A great choice for history buffs, Rock Creek Station State Recreation Area combines open prairie with Nebraska history and modern camping amenities. Its rural location near Fairbury in southeastern Nebraska creates dark night skies, and the prairie setting offers nice views of sunsets and sunrises. It’s adjacent to Rock Creek Station State Historical Park, a former Pony Express station and stop along the Oregon and California trails where pioneer wagon ruts still are visible.

The recreation area offers Electric, Basic and Basic Equestrian campsites, as well as plenty of picnicking sites. Visitors can also explore 6 miles of trails between the two parks, which wind through beautiful native grasses and wooded areas.

Fort Robinson State Park

Fort Robinson State Park in western Nebraska offers exquisite Pine Ridge scenery, compelling Old West history and scenic camping. Campers can enjoy dark skies at night, as well as scenic overlooks highlighting majestic views from the regions’ famous buttes.

When you’re not gazing at the beautiful skies, there’s plenty to see and do. You’ll find excellent fishing as well as 60 miles of hiking trails and 20 miles of equestrian trails. In the summer, visitors can enjoy Jeep tours, a restaurant, golf, live theater, swimming, and stagecoach and wagon rides.

Camping options include Full Hookup, Electric Plus and Basic campsites within a scenic and historic backdrop – with equestrian camping options for those who bring their horses, too.

Medicine Creek State Recreation Area

This hidden outdoor getaway located in peaceful southwestern Nebraska has many delights for a smaller park. At Medicine Creek State Recreation Area, visitors will find dark night skies, good fishing and modern campgrounds. Disc golf, picnicking, and boating and swimming on the 1,768-acre lake are just a few attractions.

Campers have a variety of options at Medicine Creek, including Electric Plus, Electric, Basic and Primitive camping, with access to modern restrooms and showers. Those not wanting to camp can take advantage of four two-bedroom fully furnished modern cabins with a stunning lakefront view.

Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area

If primitive tent camping is what you prefer, visit Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area in western Nebraska. Situated high on a rocky escarpment in the gorgeous Wildcat Hills region, this park offers campers 12 Basic sites. You can make reservations for half; the rest are first-come, first-served.

During your stay, make sure to go hiking and explore more than 3 miles of trails through the canyons and rocky bluffs. The park also offers great birdwatching, dark skies, picnicking at three historical stone shelters and an array of wildlife. A visit to Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area isn’t complete without stopping by the park’s nature center and shooting sports complex.

Sherman Reservoir State Recreation Area

Campers who like to fish will want to check out Sherman Reservoir State Recreation Area, located in central Nebraska. With new camping opportunities, excellent fishing, dark skies, pretty sunsets and a 2,845-acre lake, visitors will find much to appreciate here.

Camping includes more than 300 primitive non-pad sites and 61 pad electrical sites. Other activities include boating and water sports, hunting, picnicking, hiking and fishing for walleye, crappie, catfish, white bass and northern pike.

Victoria Springs State Recreation Area

Those seeking a quieter experience will enjoy Victoria Springs State Recreation Area. The third oldest area in Nebraska’s state park system, Victoria Springs has a quaint charm, described as an oasis in the Sandhills. Its rural location means dark skies for campers, and its connections to Nebraska history make it an interesting place to camp.

The 60-acre area draws its name from the mineral springs located here, from which water was once bottled and sold across the country during the heyday of the spas. Still on the site are the log cabins built by an early pioneer.

The park features Electric Plus, Electric and Basic camping, as well as two modern cabins. Visitors can boat or fish in the 5-acre lake, and the wooded picnic area offers plenty of beautiful spots for a meal outdoors.

Memphis State Recreation Area

If you’re looking for dark skies at a park in the Lincoln-Omaha area, Memphis State Recreation Area may be your best bet, as it’s more rural than other parks. It features a large campground with dozens of mature shade trees and plenty of campsites scattered along the water’s edge. The area offers 18 Electric Plus campsites and numerous Basic and Primitive campsites.

Other attractions include a recently renovated lake stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish; boating on the 48-acre lake; hiking on a scenic 1-mile trail; and picnicking.

To learn more about the parks mentioned here or to make a reservation, visit A park entry permit is required.

About Renae Blum

Renae Blum is a writer and copy editor for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Nebraskaland Magazine.

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