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Fall in the Parks - Stunning Color Comes with Season Changes

Looking for something to do with the family that does not cost much and provides endless hours of educational opportunities for the children? Take them out to see the wonders of nature this fall.

With Nebraska experiencing a year of abundant rainfall and mild fall temperatures, the state should see a palate of fall color not seen in years. There is no better place to see the fall foliage up close than Nebraska’s magnificent state park areas.

In the northeast, the bright yellows of the cottonwoods turn the Missouri River Valley to gold. Wild ducks land in the shallow wetlands by Ponca State Park and stay till they’re ready to head south. There always is something to do besides enjoying the scenery. At Ponca, enjoy the fun of the annual Hallowfest for Halloween. Take part in the haunted hayrack ride, the pumpkin carving contests, trout fishing and autumn crafts and games. Don’t forget the great fall golf packages available at Ponca in conjunction with the adjacent Highland Oaks Golf Course.

At Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area , it’s time to take advantage of the fantastic cabins that are open year-round. See the amazing fall colors, hike the back trails and enjoy great fishing during your stay.

At Niobrara State Park, the view is elevated high above the valley, giving the visitor a vista up and down the Missouri River where the Niobrara River discharges into it. The view is endless. Visitors can take advantage of having an off-season getaway, full of quiet, beautiful views and remarkable fishing. And take advantage of the Missouri River boat rides.

Middle to late October southeastern Nebraska has it’s own colorful Missouri River to enjoy, but with a hint of the Ozarks. You see the pawpaw trees and the old hardwoods. At Indian Cave State Park, the color is mixed with splotches of hundreds of species of vegetation. Here visitors can enjoy the campgrounds decorated for Halloween, go on

a haunted hayrack ride, or catch the Nebraska Endurance and Competitive Trail Ride Association competitive horse trail ride.

Nebraska City, the home of Arbor Lodge State Historical Park, will help educate visitors on the different trees and species visitors may want to add to their backyard. October brings living history events at the park, a plethora of fall color and a place to relax near metro areas.

The Niobrara River also is a great spot for a trip. Fall always is a favorite at the popular Smith Falls State Park, but don’t pass by Keller SRA or the pine covered hills of Long Pine SRA. Here the blood-red sumac sets off the tall Ponderosa pine forest. These provide excellent fall camping and are close to the Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail, which has excellent wildlife viewing. October also is a beautiful time to take a float trip on the scenic Niobrara River.

The Pine Ridge and Panhandle areas not only provide the fall foliage a visitor would expect, but the different colors of the prairie grasses are of particular interest. Tall Bluestem and Sideoats Grama provide unbelievable color variations. The

busy summer camping spots at Fort Robinson State Park, Chadron State Park, Bridgeport SRA and Lake McConaughy SRA will not be so in the fall. In most spots you will find plenty of room. Check out the the phenomenal trails while viewing the great fall colors at Fort Robinson State Park.

Fall is a wonderful time for outdoor activities. Don’t miss it this year.

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