Free Fishing and Park Entry Day
Saturday, May 16
Free Park Entry and Fishing Day is an annual opportunity where the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission allows fishing and entry to parks without requiring permits. It provides an opportunity for people to experience the state’s diverse park areas and fishing resources free of charge. Some sites will simply have equipment and assistance available, while others are planning fishing clinics and derbies complete with prizes and food!
Rods and reels, bobbers, hooks, sinkers and bait will be available for use at all locations. Commission employees and volunteer fishing instructors will be on hand to assist and offer fishing tips to participants. Additionally, catfish or trout will be stocked at most of the lakes to increase the odds of everyone catching a fish!
Following is a list of special activities at the region’s State Parks, State Recreation Areas and State Historical Parks. Those participating in hikes are encouraged to dress for the weather, bring water and appropriate footwear.
- Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area near Gering – The Wildcat Hills Nature Center will be hosting an array of events for its annual Wildlands Day, highlighted by an 8k fun run, children’s crafts and hikes to observe birds, wildflowers and bighorn sheep. The fun run, which costs $20 per runner and has four age categories for men and women, begins at 8:30 a.m. with registration at 7:30 a.m. Prizes will be awarded for each division and each runner will receive a T-shirt and water bottle. The birding hike begins at 9:30 a.m. A program about butterflies, in addition to activities and crafts for children, will follow at 10 a.m. Participants of the bighorn sheep hike will meet at 11 a.m. near the nature center and caravan to the location of the sheep. The events will wrap up with a wildflower walk at 1 p.m.
- Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford – A fishing derby, free rides and an open house will highlight activities at Fort Robinson State Park. The open house for the park’s newest lodging facility, the reconstruction of an 1891 Officers Quarters, will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Also, children ages 12 and under are being invited to participate in the park’s annual fishing derby at Carter P. Johnson Lake. The derby is set for 9 a.m. to noon. There is no entry fee for the derby and prizes will be awarded. Participating children who are Nebraska residents may enter to win a half-price lifetime hunting and fishing permit. Fort Robinson also will have free jeep rides and hayrack tours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a break for lunch. Its museums will be open and a barbecue lunch for $6 will be offered west of the lodge from noon to 1:30 p.m.
- Chadron State Park near Chadron – The newly renovated pond will be in the spotlight as park staff will be on hand throughout the day to assist young anglers with loaner equipment, bait and prizes. Also, park visitors are invited on a hike to observe the park’s diverse bird life from 9-10 a.m. beginning near the park’s headquarters.
- Ash Hollow State Historical Park near Lewellen – Park visitors will get a guided tour of the many species of birds visiting Ash Hollow State Historical Park. Participants will meet at the visitors center at 8 a.m. for a bird watching tour of 2-3 miles along the Oregon-California trail through the park.
- Medicine Creek State Recreation Area - 2nd Annual Southwest Reservoir’s Family Fun Fest May 16, 2015 all-day
Medicine Creek Reservoir State Recreation Area
Hold the date! More information to come!
- Fort Kearny State Recreation Area -Free Park & Fish Day
May 16, 2015 - 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Come to Fort Kearney State Recreation Area for a morning organized bird and nature tour 10:00-11:00. Fort Kearney State Rec Areas is known for excellent birding. We will explore the area for nature and numerous bird species.
Learn more with family fun in the outdoors! Bait, Poles, Cooking, Scavenger Hunt.
- Eugene T. Mahoney State Park - Run Wild “A Run for Wildlife” 10K/5K/ & Kids Run May 16, 2015 - 8:00 am
Held in the Open Air Pavilion, Run Wild to benefit Nebraska’s wildlife! Run Wild is a challenging trail run. There is a 10K option or a 5K option through the scenic, naturally challenging trails of Mahoney State Park. The event will not be timed this year. Children (12 and under) can also Run Wild at the 1 mile children’s fun run. Parents can run with young children with no charge. Dressing like a wild animal is encouraged! Registration proceeds support the Nebraska Wildlife Conservation Fund.
Have fun before and after the race: live animals, face painting, fishing and more! Youth 15 and under can register to win a half-price Youth Lifetime Hunt and Fish Permit.
- Alexandria Lake State Recreation Area
Kid’s Fishing Clinic and Family Day - May 16, 2015 - 9:30 am – 2:00 pm
Come have some fun at Alexandria Lake SRA at the Kid’s Fishing Clinic and Family Day! Hands on Fishing Education will be provided; to include casting, knot tying, casting, recipes, techniques and more. Lunch will be provided for participants.
Bring your own poles and tackle, but there will be some loaner fishing rods for people in need. People of all ages are welcome to try their skills.
- Johnson State Recreation Area - 3rd Annual Family Adventure Day
May 16, 2015 - 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Two naturalists are scheduled. One will be talking about birds and the other will be talking about other mammals. There will be dutch oven cooking put on by the Boy Scouts. There will also be canoeing, nerf gun/slingshot range, and other events.
- Rock Creek Station State Historical Park - Birds, Butterflies, and Pollinators
May 16, 2015 - 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
From 10:30am-Noon we are offering a program on “how birds, butterflies, and pollinators can benefit from wild flower plantings and gardens”. Presenters will be NGPC Horticulturalist Mike Groenewold partnering with his wife Shauna. The program will be in the large shelter in the day use picnic area at Rock Creek Station SHP.
But don’t stop there.
Rock Creek Station State Historical Park encourages visitors to take and submit photos of birds found in the park to their social media and Rock Creek Station SHP.
NO Park Entry Permit is required today.
- Rock Creek Station SHP - Living History Day -
May 16, 2015 - 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Experience history come to life; this is not an opportunity you will want to miss!
Rock Creek Station, one of America’s most picturesque westward trail sites, has been beautifully reconstructed along the Oregon, California, and Pony Express trails. This amazing 394 acre site features original trail ruts, native and restored tall grass prairie, woodland edges and 5 log buildings, situated along the banks of Rock Creek. Rock Creek Station was active during the 1850’s and 1860’s as a stopping place along the trail, and was a station on the route of the short lived Pony Express.
- Platte River State Park - Fishing Clinic and Fun Day
May 16, 2015 - 9:00 am
There will be naturalist activities going on all day including birding opportunities, a reptile exhibit, wildlife identification, and more. The shooting range will be open along with the horse rides and paddle boats. That evening around dusk, a family friendly movie will be shown.
- Smith Falls State Park Birding - May 16, 2015- 9:00 am – 10:00 am
Learn tips for birding in many different settings and experience the habitat diversity the Sandhills offers to the world’s migratory birds. All ages and birding abilities – beginners and experts – are welcome. This hike will be tailored to the interests and abilities of participants. Please wear sturdy shoes, hat/sunscreen and bring a snack & water. Field guides and binoculars will be provided.
- Ponca State Park - Free Park Entry/Fishing Day at Ponca State Park
9:00am – Beginners Fishing Clinic
9:00am – Beginners Fly-Fishing Clinic
11:00am – Fish Cleaning
1:00pm – Bass Fishing Basics
1:00pm – Fish Prints
|Contact the parks for information on activities at each park area if you want more information about the upcoming schedule.