From ancient fossils to sandstone caves, families can expect bucketloads of adventure in Nebraska's varied State Parks.
Nestled around the Platte River, roughly equidistant from Omaha and Lincoln, is Platte River State Park. Besides the water sports, families will find a number of attractions here that are worth travelling for. A fossil exhibit, canyon ponds, and an outdoor playground are some of the ingredients for a perfect family day out. Be sure to visit the nearby Strategic Air and Space Museum, and the Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium on your way to or from the State Park.
Sitting on the state border, Indian Cave is one of Nebraska's most distinctive parks. Kids and adults alike will be wowed by the stunning sandstone cave after which the park is named. Ancient cave art marks several of its walls, while the park is famed for its picturesque camping and picnicking spots. Indian Cave also has 22 miles of hiking and biking trails for you and your family to explore. The park itself sprawls over more than three thousand acres, brushing up against the Missouri River.
Your whole family will be amazed by the mysterious ash blanket that preserves the fossils of otherworldly creatures from 12 million years ago - this wonder of nature has to be seen to be believed.
Strap on your boots and get hiking amid ancient forests and impressive canyons - breathtaking scenes are guaranteed.
Emerald forest lines Ponca State Park's stretch of the Missouri River. Hikers will have a field day scaling the bluffs to gain mesmerizing views over the surrounding scenery, while clearly marked trails help you get the most out of this glorious natural haven.
Pines stretch for 22,000 acres through this spectacular State Park. Hikers will be rewarded with fascinating Old West heritage and history exhibits, and sights of buffalo and longhorn herds which seem to belong to a different time. The former US Army fort was declared a National Historic Landmark in the sixties, and played a pivotal role in the Sioux Wars a hundred years earlier. Make time to visit the plaque that marks the site of Crazy Horse's tragic death during the Battle of Warbonnet Creek in 1876.
Nebraska's oldest state park remains a favourite for those who enjoy a slower pace of life. The grand Pine Ridge forms a dramatic backdrop for the park, which has an elevation of around 5000 feet, while nearly a thousand acres of parkland are available to the eager hiker - expect miles of scenic trails interspersed with picnic areas, grills, and other handy facilities.
Maintained by the National Parks Service, the secluded canyons and hiking trails of Fort Niobrara are worth a mention. There are few sights more rewarding on a long hike than that of Snake River Falls, which shoots out over a 54-ft-wide ledge in a canyon clearing.
Adrenaline junkies are well catered to in Nebraska's State Parks - try rafting, horse-riding, and more, with stunning scenery as the backdrop.
For blissful days of fun in the Nebraska sunshine, visit Niobara, which offers many thrilling outdoor activities. Go on a horseback ride down leafy trails, splash about in the swimming pool, go fishing or rafting at the confluence of the Missouri or Niobrara Rivers, or try cross-country skiing in the winter.
Close to the city of Lexington, the beautiful Johnson Lake is renowned for its fishing reserves. Fishing fans travel from across the state to catch the Walleye that spring from its waters, while the 2,068 acre lake also offers plenty of boating and waterskiing entertainment.
Running the length of the Sandhills Scenic Byway, the hand-planted Nebraska National Forest is a leafy haven for sports fans - horse riding, hiking, and cycling are popular activities in this green paradise.