Skip to main content

Free Fishing and Park Entry Day is May 20

Free Fishing and Park Entry Day in Nebraska is May 20. Enjoy a Saturday of fishing or state park activities without the need to purchase a fishing or park entry permit for the day.

Free Fishing and Park Entry Day, held annually in Nebraska on the Saturday preceding Memorial Day weekend, means anyone can explore outdoor opportunities at any Nebraska state park, state recreation area or state historical park. Anglers must observe all fishing regulations. Camping, lodging and all other user fees still apply at state park areas. Entrance fees for museums at state historical parks and the entrance fee at the Schramm Education Center remain in effect.

Several family-friendly activities are scheduled in state park areas across the state to celebrate Free Fishing and Park Entry Day. Some of them include:

Fort Robinson State Park

A Kids’ Fishing Derby is set for 9-11 a.m. for ages 12 and under at Grable Ponds. A barbecue, which includes hamburger, salad and drink, will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the west lawn of the lodge. The cost is $11; kids 12 and under are $5.50.

Venture Parks

A Beginner Fishing Program will be held from 9-11 a.m. at Platte River State Park’s Owen Landing and from 1-3 p.m. at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park’s CenturyLink Lake.

Join the parks’ naturalists at the lake to give fishing a try. Bait a hook, cast a line and catch a fish. All equipment will be provided.

At the Schramm Education Center, a Fun with Fishing Program is set for 11 a.m. at the new shelter with the green roof between the hatchery ponds and the parking area. This will be an opportunity to make a fish print, design a fishing lure and play fish-themed games.

Ponca State Park

Ponca will host the Bill Morris Fishing Derby for anglers of all ages. There also will be a youth casting competition, fish cleaning demonstrations, and more.

Fremont Lakes State Recreation Area

Lake No. 16 will host the Bob Bruner Memorial Fishing Derby from 9 a.m. to noon. There also will be food, other activities and prizes. Bait will be available while supplies last.

Ash Hollow State Historical Park

Children under age 18 are invited to come out and fish Ash Hollow’s pond. A free hot dog lunch will be served from noon to 2 p.m. Mountain time.

Chadron State Park

Participate in the Northwest Nebraska Volksmarch at Chadron State Park, walking a 5k or 10k route. For just a $3 fee, enjoy the park’s scenery and trails while getting some exercise. Walkers can begin from the start table between 8 and 11 a.m. Children in strollers are free. All children under 12 will receive an award. Visit the Northwest Nebraska Facebook page for a registration link. For more information, contact Brittany Helmbrecht at 308-432-6374 or

Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area

The park, from 9 a.m. to noon, will host Wildlands Day, which will include a bird hike, wildflower walk, children’s crafts and more.

Rock Creek Station State Historical Park

A free activity, Birding for Everybody and Every Body, will take place from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. It includes an accessible and inclusive guided birding outing for all ages and experience levels.

Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park

Experience life at Fort Hartsuff in the 1800s while reenactors make candles, forge items in the blacksmith shop, and answer questions about their life at the fort. Visitors are encouraged to talk to reenactors and ask questions.

Visit for more information. Get more information on parks at

About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at or 402-471-5008.

Related Articles

Campground Electricity Among Chadron State Park Improvements

Feb 16, 2023

Campground Electricity Among Chadron State Park Improvements

Campers at Chadron State Park soon will have more power — more electrical power, that is. Later this

Read More
Venture Park Region Discovery Fair scheduled April 8

Feb 27, 2023

Venture Park Region Discovery Fair scheduled April 8

Discover summer activities and job opportunities at the Venture Parks April 8.

Read More
Memorial Run to help boost mental health awareness

Feb 28, 2023

Memorial Run to help boost mental health awareness

Registration is open for an annual race aimed at raising awareness of mental health.

Read More