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Follow these tips to enjoy peak camping season

People sit in lawn chairs under the trees
People relax in the campground at Victoria Springs State Recreation Area in Custer County. Copyright NEBRASKAland Magazine, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Nothing says camping season has arrived more than Memorial Day weekend, the three-day kickoff to summer.

With a little advanced planning campers can find their perfect site for memorable outdoor experiences all summer long.

Nebraska state parks offer both reservation-only spots and first-come, first-served ones. Find a park, plan a trip or make a reservation at There you also can use the “Find a Park” tool to discover parks with amenities or activities that match your interests.

Once you’ve popped your tent or parked your recreation vehicle, follow these Nebraska Game and Parks reminders to keep camping fun and safe this summer:

Arrive early: Consider arriving early in the week to claim a first-come, first-served site that meets your needs.

Be patient: Memorial Day weekend is a historically busy one in state parks, but as camping interest has boomed, many weekends can be busy at larger state park locations. Practice patience and understanding with fellow campers and park staff.

Wear life jackets: When boating, paddleboarding or swimming wear a personal floatation device. If swimming, only swim in designated beach areas.

Pack a fishing pole: Fishing is fun for all ages. Youth ages 16 and under don’t need a permit to fish. Adults can buy a one-day or annual fishing permit online.

Practice campfire safety: Guests should call park areas before arrival to determine whether a burn ban is in effect. Where campfires are allowed, use designated fire rings, never leave a fire unattended, keep water nearby, and extinguish completely before leaving.

Do not bring firewood with you: Transporting firewood can spread diseases and harmful insects such as the emerald ash borer. Buy local firewood and leave any unused firewood at the campsite for others.

Arrive before dark: Arriving at your campsite before dark gives you time to set up camp while it’s still light out. And when possible, don’t pack up and leave too early in the morning.

Don’t cut through occupied campsites: Stay on paths or roadways and give all your camping neighbors some privacy.

Observe quiet hours: In most state park campgrounds, quiet hours are 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. every day.

Be weather aware: Check the forecast and stay aware of changing conditions. Many parks have restrooms that double as tornado shelters, but don’t be afraid to pack up to avoid a storm.

Remember a vehicle park entry permit is required and gives you unlimited access for the calendar year to Nebraska’s state parks. Buy one in advance at, at the park, or at statewide Game and Parks offices and permit vendors.

About Shawna Richter-Ryerson

Shawna Richter-Ryerson is an assistant division administrator for communications at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. She can be contacted at or 402-471-5565.

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