RV Camping Travelog
Exploring the Nebraska Panhandle
Our RV camping travels take us to new and interesting places, and our trip through the Nebraska panhandle was no exception! Besides great campsites, there is a national forest to explore, state parks, wildlife areas, historic sites, and at least one tourist attraction that is unique.
Our trip started in Colorado at Ft Morgan’s Riverside Park about 90 miles northeast of Denver. This city park sits on the north side of I-76 and offers free RV and tent camping with trash and 20 amp electricity. Donations are accepted. The park features barbecue grates, playground, tennis courts, disc golf, swimming pool, and sports fields. Lot’s of shade trees, and close to the South Platte River. The campground is near I-76 so it may be noisy. We were there in hot weather and ran our RV air conditioning so the noise was not a factor. Map to campground.
Heading northeast from Ft Morgan, Colorado on I-76, we turned north at Sterling and took Colorado highway 113 north. This road becomes Nebraska highway 19, and goes into Sidney, Nebraska. (There is a Colorado rest area at Sterling with dump station, water, and trash).
In Sidney, we recommend a trip to Cabela’s. This sporting goods shop has a vast selection of fishing, hunting, and other sporting goods. The store is huge, and features museum-quality animal displays, large aquariums and animal mounts in realistic habitat displays. Cabela’s also has an RV park on the grounds, as well as a free RV dump station.
Inside Cabela’s – Sidney, Nebraska – Photo courtesy Flickr.com – Overduebooks
Heading north from Sidney on US 395, our overnight RV camping site is only 45 miles away at the Bridgeport State Recreation Area. This state recreation area is great for fishing, swimming, and boating. There are 3 lakes, one allows personal watercraft and water skiing, while the other two lakes are reserved for non powered boats. Fishing is allowed in all 3 lakes, and the overnight camping rate is $10. Campsites are well separated with most having a barbecue grill and picnic table. There is a swimming beach.
A short 12 mile trip west of Bridgeport on US 26 will take you to Chimney Rock National Historic Site. One of the most famous landmarks of the American west, this 325 foot tall spire is visible for miles.
Another 20 miles west on Nebraska highway 92 is the Scottsbluff National Monument. 3000 acres of unusual geologic formations tower above the prairie. Located along the Oregon Trail, there are hiking trails and scenic drives.
Heading north about 50 miles from Bridgeport on US 395, you will come to the town of Alliance, and the famous Carhenge. This unusual sculpture replicates England’s Stonehenge with a slightly different medium. It’s free to visit, and is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Daytime hours are the best to visit. There is no camping on the property, but campgrounds are available in nearby Alliance.
Heading north from Alliance on US 395 will take you to the Nebraska National Forest, and Chadron State Park. Two areas of the Nebraska National Forest were hand planted, and a tree nursery still operates providing seedlings for forest expansion. Dispersed RV camping (boondocking) is permitted in the Nebraska National Forest, but finding these areas can be difficult. There is a lot of private land mingled with the forest, so you will need a detailed forest map showing the forest boundary to find boondocking locations. The picture below was taken from our boondocking location during a storm. We were foolish and didn’t get a good picture of the area, but vista’s of the surrounding prairielands available, as well as some great secluded campsites. This campsite is about 1000 feet above the surrounding prairie.
Within the Nebraska National Forest is Chadron State Park. This 972 acre park offers hiking, fishing, paddle boats, campground store, horseback riding, and of course RV camping. The campground has 70 sites, all with 30 amp electric RV hookups. Chadron State Park Video Tour.
Heading west from Chadron on US 20, you will come to one of Nebraska’s favorite state parks. Fort Robinson State Park has more than 22,000 acres of great scenery, history of the old west, unusual lodging, RV camping and buffalo and longhorn herds managed within the park. Fort Robinson State Park video tour.
One more interesting area to see in the area is Toadstool Geologic Park. This area is also called the Nebraska Badlands, and features sandstone formations, and numerous fossil sites under current excavation. Off the beaten path, but worth the drive. Dispersed camping is available as this is a National Grassland administered area.
We had a great time visiting and RV camping in the scenic and historic panhandle of Nebraska!