State Recreation Area
2199 30 Rd. | Kearney, NE 68847
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.
Fort Kearny Master Plan establishes a framework for cohesive future park improvements, while preserving existing uses valued by visitors, staff and volunteers. Learn about the vision for the park in the Fort Kearny Master Plan found on our Publications page under Agency Plans. Thank you to everyone that contributed to the planning process for Fort Kearny.
Fort Kearny State Recreation Area is an excellent place to view sandhill cranes during spring migration. The bridges over the Platte River on the hike-bike trail are a popular place to observe them at dusk and dawn.
The interpretive center at adjoining Fort Kearny State Historical Park also is open daily during peak migration and serves as an information center for crane viewers.
Held annually each May, the Fort Kearny Outdoor Expo gives people of all ages and experience levels the opportunity to try archery, shooting sports, kayaking, rock climbing, fishing and many other outdoor activities. Various exhibits give people the chance to see Nebraska fish and wildlife species up close. While a park permit is required, all activities are offered free of charge.
Only no-wake boating is permitted at Fort Kearny State Recreation Area. There are no boat ramps or docks.
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.
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 on what once was a segment of the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad.
The bridges over the river are a popular spot for Sandhill crane viewing during spring migration. In winter, these trails are popular with cross-country skiers.
Flora and fauna of the Platte Valley also can be enjoyed from this trail or from another that follows the old 1864 river channel. A trail map is available at the Fort Kearny State Historical Park visitor center.
Fort Kearny offers trail rides beginning at the Boy Scout campground and traveling through the prairie on the north side of the campgrounds and lakes in an approximately 3-mile loop. Trail rides are reservation only. Call Christine Wilson at (308) 320-4908.
Day-use facilities are open year-round and include picnic tables, shelters, grills, drinking water and playground equipment.
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.
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.
Picnic shelters, both non-electrical and electrical, are reservable for your activity or event.
A park entry permit is required to visit state parks and may be purchased at the park, statewide Game and Parks offices and permit vendors, or in advance of your arrival online. View those fees, as well as attraction and amenity pricing.
Reservations are accepted for cabins, lodge rooms, and group lodges up to one year in advance of the arrival date. Reservations for camping are accepted up to 180 days in advance of arrival date. The Reservation Call Center hours are Monday-Friday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (CT) and closed on holidays.