FAMILY VACATIONS AND OUTDOOR RECREATION

In the Great Plains

The Great Plains is a Great Destination for your next vacation!

Scroll down the page to view a comprehensive listing of must-see attractions along the Great Plains portion of the Lewis and Clark trail.

Nebraska, Iowa and S.E. South Dakota

When Meriwether Lewis served as President Jefferson’s personal secretary and they were planning the route of the expedition up the Missouri River, they knew that the Mouth of the Platte River in present-day Nebraska would be the embarkation point into the vast frontier. The Otoe Indian tribe claimed the lands south of the legendary Platte, the Omaha tribe claimed the north side while the mighty Sioux claimed all the lands to the Mandan villages in present-day North Dakota.

1. Indian Cave State Park, NE

10 miles south of Brownville on Hwy 67. 3,052-acre park on the Missouri River. Camping, 20 miles of trails. Go to OutdoorNebraska.gov for current park park accessibility and guidelines.

2. Brownville, NE

Historic river town, Spirit of Brownville Riverboat.

Brownville Riverside Park features Meriwether Lewis Dredge Museum; boat ramp & dock, camping, and picnic shelters.

3. Sidney, IA

History Center and Iowa Championship Rodeo Museum.

Waubonsie State Park is 6 miles south and has camping, shoreline fishing and a great view of the Missouri River valley.

4. Nebraska City, NE

Great Plains Nebraska City

Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark Interpretative Trail and Visitor Center

Featuring wildlife of the west, keelboat display, historic re-enactments and the Lewis & Clark Commemorative Stamp Collection. Nebraska City also features the J. Sterling Morton Arbor Lodge State Historical Park and Arboretum, Lied Lodge, Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure, Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard, the Kregel Windmill Museum, the Old Freighters Museum, Civil War Museum, Firefighters Museum and more. Go to: NebraskaCityMuseums.org. For more information go to: VisitOtoeCounty.com or to: LewisAndClarkVisitorCenter.org.

5. Plattsmouth, NE

Cass County Historical Museum.

Visit Schilling Wildlife Management Area to see the Mouth of the Platte River. For more information go to: VisitCassCounty.com.

6. Glenwood, IA

Mills County Historical Museum.

7. Louisville, NE

Louisville State Recreation Area at Louisville on NE-50.

Features modern campgrounds, camping pads, swimming, fishing, picnicking, hiking, canoe access to the Platte River. Call 402-727-2922 in advance for information on park access and services. 

8. Platte River State Park, NE

Near Louisville on NE-50. Features include modern cabins, conference facilities, seasonal restaurant, teepee village, lodging, splash park, hiking, paddle boats, archery, horseback trail rides, Platte River viewscapes, and some of the best bike trails in the area. Go to OutdoorNebraska.gov for current park accessibility and guidelines.

9. Schramm Park State Recreation Area, NE

6 miles south of I-80 exit 432. Remodeled aquarium, interactive exhibits, classroom and nature center. Go to OutdoorNebraska.gov for current park accessibility and guidelines.

Two Rivers State Recreation Area – West of Omaha on NE 92, this is a great spot for fishing, camping, swimming and picnicking. Features six cabooses refurbished as cabins. Go to OutdoorNebraska.gov for current accessibility and guidelines.

10. Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, NE

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park is just off I-80 at Exit 426. 690-acre state park overlooking the Platte River features lodge, group and conference facilities, modern cabins, 149 modern camping pads, full service restaurant, dining, family aquatic center, water slides, wave pool, sports fields, trail rides, ropes course, climbing wall, alpine slide, crafts, fishing, picnicking, hiking, 70-ft. observation tower, nature conservancy, and live theater. Year round activities. Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari, near Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, is a wildlife adventure amidst herds of buffalo, elk, deer and antelope, and a walking trail where you’ll see wolves and bears. The Strategic Air & Space Museum is nearby. For current park accessibility and guidelines go to: OutdoorNebraska.org.

11. Bellevue, NE

Great Plains Outlet Mall

Features the beautiful Fontenelle Forest Nature Center, Gifford Farm Education Center, Sarpy County Historical Museum, historic home tours and the Bellevue Pioneer Cemetery, the final resting place of Chief Big Elk, the last full-blooded chief of the Omaha Tribe. Bellevue is home to Nebraska’s oldest church, the Old Presbyterian Church, and the oldest commercial building, the Old Fontenelle Bank, and a 1830s log cabin. Watch a great baseball game at Werner Park at nearby Papillion and shop for discounts from top name brands at Nebraska Crossing Outlets on I-80 at Gretna. For more information go to: GoSarpy.com. 

12. Council Bluffs, IA

Western Historic Trails Center, Lewis & Clark Monument, Union Pacific Railroad Museum, Kanesville Tabernacle and Bayliss Park.

Lake Manawa State Park

2 ½ miles south of I-80 at Council Bluffs’ Exit 47 features a 772-acre lake formed by Missouri River Oxbow. Fishing, premier boating, paddleboats and beaches.

Site of Lewis & Clark’s White Catfish camp at the Western Historic Trails Center.

13. OMAHA, NE

Downtown area includes: Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Headquarters and Visitor Center, Joslyn Art Museum (Bodmer Collection), Durham Museum, Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, Lewis & Clark Landing and Riverfront Trail, Heartland of America Park, Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness/ Pioneer Courage sculptural parks, the Old Market and the CenturyLink Center. South Omaha includes the Henry Doorly Zoo, Lauritzen Gardens & Kenefick Park. North Omaha includes Freedom Park, Miller’s Landing, Mormon Trail Center and NP Dodge Park & Marina.

14. Fort Calhoun, NE

Fort Atkinson State Historical Park, a recreated 1820’s frontier outpost with re-enactments and demonstrations, displays, artifacts and theater.  Visitors to Fort Calhoun can step into the area’s pioneer past at the  Washington County Museum and the historic Frahm House. Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge also is nearby. Go to: FortCalhoun.org/Tourism.

Site of First Council between Lewis & Clark and the Otoe and Missouri Native Americans.

15. Blair, NE

Tower of the Winds Monument, Cottonwood Marina and Riverfront Park.

16. Fremont, NE

Features Gallery 72 West and a number of antique boutiques, the Nebraska Railroad Museum and excursions aboard the Fremont & Elkhorn Roairoad, and Splash Station water park. Fremont Lakes State Recreation Area is nearby. For current park accessibility and guidelines, go to OutdoorNebraska.gov.

17. Missouri Valley, IA

Harrison County Historical Village & Iowa Welcome Center.

Wilson Island State Recreation Area

has hiking, cross-country skiing, campgrounds, cabin rental. 6 miles south of Sidney. Camping, day-use cabins and lodge, shoreline fishing. Limited access due to spring flooding.

Loess Hills State Forest

is also nearby.

 

18. DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge, IA

On the Missouri River. I-29 to Exit 75 to US-30 westbound. Geese and other migrating birds including bald eagles stop here annually. Visitor Center features exhibits of artifacts retrieved from the Bertrand Steamboat. Please call 712-388 4800 in advance for more information on park services and access. 

19. Tekamah & Decatur, NE

Summit Lake State Recrea-tion Area on Hwy 32 east, includes camping, fishing and hiking. Missouri River access and camping at Beck Park in Decatur.

20. Madison, NE

13 miles south of Norfolk at US HWY 81 & NE HWY 32. Home to the Madison County Museum with Western Settlement History, Orphan Train Research Learning Center and Carnegie Library Learning Center.

21. Moorhead, IA

Loess Hills Hospitality & Visitors Center.

Preparation Canyon State Park

– hike in-camping, trails and picnic shelters.

22. Onawa, IA

Great Plains Lewis and Clark Reenactment

Lewis & Clark Visitors Center – Keelboat display and recreation area.

Lewis & Clark State Park

features a 250-acre Blue Lake with boat ramps, beaches, swimming and fishing.

Lewis & Clark campsite. For more information on Iowa great state parks, go to: IowaDNR.gov. 

23. Macy, NE

Omaha Indian Reservation, Blackbird Scenic Overlook, Annual Powwow.

Lewis & Clark paid tribute at the grave of Chief Blackbird which was near today’s scenic overlook..

24. Winnebago, NE

Winnebago Indian Reservation, Woodland Trails, Honoring-The-Clans Sculpture Garden and Cultural Plaza, Cultural Center & Museum, Annual Powwow.

 

25. Dakota City, NE

Cottonwood Cove Park.

26. South Sioux City, NE

Crystal Cove Park.

27. Sergeant Bluff, IA

Sergeant Bluff Welcome Center.

28. Sioux City, IA

Lewis & Clark Interpretative Center, Sergeant Floyd Monument, Sergeant Floyd River Museum and Welcome Center, Mid-America Museum of Aviation and Transportation, the Milwaukee Railroad Shops,

Stone State Park, Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center, R.D. Station, Fourth Street Historic District, Sioux City Arts Center, Sioux City Public Museum, War Eagle Monument, Trinity Heights, Anderson Pavilion/Flight 232 Memorial, and the Presbytery of Prospect Hill Monument.

Sergeant Floyd Monument

29. North Sioux City, SD

Clay County Park and Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve – Exit 4 off of I-29 at North Sioux City on the Missouri River. Pioneer homestead buildings, interpretative exhibits, and hike/bike trails.

30. Elk Point, SD

Elk Point Heritage Park, 7 Nations Memorial Park, Lewis & Clark Heritage Days.

Vicinity of Patrick Gass Election Lewis & Clark Site.

31. Ponca, NE

Ponca State Park – Gateway to the Missouri National Recreational River. 2,166-acre park features interpretative programs conference and educational center, modern cabins, scenic trails, modern campgrounds, horseback trail rides, swimming pool, special events, hiking, picnicking, golf course, and boat ramp access to the Missouri River. For current park accessibility and guidelines, go to: OutdoorNebraska.gov.

 

32. Vermillion, SD

Spirit Mound Historic Prairie State Park, W.H. Over Museum, Clay County Park.

Lewis & Clark climbed the mound on August 25, 1804, one of the few places that we know the exact location where they stood.

33. Yankton, SD

Great Plains Gavins Point Dam

Gateway to Gavins Point Dam and Spillway, the Mead Cultural Education Center, historic homes and shopping and dining in the Meridian District along the Missouri River.

Pierre Dorian Monument Lewis & Clark Site.

For more information go to: VisitYanktonSD.com.

34. Chief White Crane Recreation Area, SD

West of Yankton on the Missouri River features camping, boat ramps, picnic shelters and playground. Majestic bald eagles winter here.

35. Pierson Ranch Recreation Area, SD

West of Yankton on the Missouri River features camping, camping cabins, picnic shelters, and playground.

36. Lewis & Clark Recreation Area, SD

Resort and Marina includes motel, cabins, swimming pool, restaurant, slip and boat rentals. Activities in the recreation area include camping, hike/bike and swim beaches, fishing, power and sail boating.

37. Springfield Recreation Area, SD

Adjacent to Springfield on the Missouri River. Includes camping, cabins, boating and fishing plus nearby 9-hole golf course. Springfield Historical Society Museum is nearby.

38. Crofton, NE

Lewis & Clark Lake, Shannon Trail experience.

Lewis & Clark’s Pvt. George Shannon was lost for 15 days in the area.

 

39. Lewis & Clark Lake State Recreation Area, NE

4-miles west of NE 121 & R54C. Includes 5 recreation areas: Weigand-Burbach, Bloomfield, Miller Creek, Deep Water, and South Shore. Weigand-Burbach has full service marina, modern cabins, camping, boat ramps, playgrounds, etc. Other sites have boat ramps, modern campgrounds, hiking, horseback trail, etc. For park current accessibility and guidelines, go to: OutdoorNebraska.gov

40. Santee, NE

Santee Sioux Indian Reservation, annual powwow.

Lewis & Clark’s Pvt. George Shannon was lost for 15 days in the area.

41. Niobrara, NE

Kreycik Riverview Elk Ranch, Ponca Tribal Museum, Chief Standing Bear Memorial Bridge Turnout. Niobrara State Park – at NE-12. 1,314-acre park features modern cabins, group conference facilities, modern campgrounds, swimming, horseback trail rides, boat access to the Missouri River. For park current accessibility and guidelines, go to: OutdoorNebraska.gov.

Lewis & Clark’s Pvt. George Shannon was lost for 15 days in the area. 

42. Lynch, NE

Lewis & Clark first saw prairie dogs at “Old Baldy Landmark” near Lynch, NE.

43. Pickstown, SD

Fort Randall Dam and Francis Case Lake, Fort Randall historic military post site, Yankton Sioux Indian Reservation, annual powwow. Randall Creek Recreation Area includes, camping, fishing, boat ramps, picnic shelter and playground.

Visit our Partner's websites for more information.

This program sponsored and funded in part by the National Park Service Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Sarpy County Visitors Committee, Cass County Tourism (VisitCassCounty.com), the Otoe County Visitors Committee, the Lewis and Clark Missouri River Basin Visitor Center and Visit Yankton.

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