Platte River State Park is an innovative area, where the Commission has implemented some intriguing concepts in park lodging, management and design. This up-to-the-minute facility offers a wide range of activities and lodging choices, while keeping costs to a minimum.
The park sits about halfway between the state's two largest cities of Omaha and Lincoln. The 418-acre park merged what were once three separate areas — Harriet Harding Campfire Girls Camp, Camp Esther K. Newman, and a 104-acre wooded area.
Activities range from swimming at the supervised pool to guided horseback trail rides through the timbered hills. Sights to see include the quaint Red Barn (converted to a group camp) and a charming little waterfall. If you're watchful, you might even spot a flock of wild turkeys as they wander past your cabin. Those who like to rise with the sun should indulge in a hike through the picturesque woodlands.
Recreational equipment is available at Owen Landing, where you can rent a paddleboat to churn around Jenny Newman Lake. At sunset, free campfire programs that change regularly are on tap at the amphitheater. To keep up on all the goings-on, just pick up a copy of the Platte River PATHFINDER, your complete guide to park activities. Check out the arts and crafts center and try your hand at ceramics or leathercraft.
Visitors also can climb to the top of the 85-foot Lincoln Journal Tower. Its large observation deck gives you a view in any direction. The Platte River Valley unfolds before you, creating a breathtaking vista.
Day visitors are also welcome at Platte River and can enjoy a meal at the lodge, a swim in the park pool or trail ride.
For veteran golfers wishing a special challenge, Quarry Oaks Championship Golf Course near the park offers a fabulous golfing experience set on the rolling wooded hills overlooking the Platte River. Quarry Oaks has been touted as one of the best new public golf courses in the United States. Contact Quarry Oaks to arrange your tee times up to 30 days in advance.
Platte River is well-equipped to handle a variety of functions for groups ranging in size up to 150 people throughout the year. Lodging facilities are limited during the winter months, since only the Housekeeping Cabins have heat.
Nature-lovers delight in the variety of flora and fauna found at the park and its environs. Typical species include those common to the eastern hardwood forests, the tail-grass prairies, and the Platte River flood plain woodlands. This overlapping makes the park a rare treat for visitors interested in the world of nature.
Outdoor Heritage Education Complex
In the summer of 2010 the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission initiated the construction of a multipurpose shooting range at Platte River State Park. This new facility will accommodate several shooting disciplines, including an archery range with shooting tower, a 50 yard - small bore rifle range and an indoor 10 meter pellet gun range. This new facility will allow them to continue participation in various outdoor pursuits by providing a well-equipped and familiar facility that appeals to families and youth of all ages.
There are 31 of these cabins, grouped around central shower-latrine buildings, with four to six units in a pod. Each cabin has a refrigerator, fire grate for outdoor cooking and a picnic table, and linens are provided. With costs held down, the visitor can enjoy the park complex on a small budget.
Because of the rugged terrain and limited space, there are no campsites or pads at Platte River. However, RVers will find great facilities at Louisville State Recreation Area or Eugene T. Mahoney State Park just a few minutes away. Campers are welcome to commute and enjoy the park activities.
Rent a Tepee
You can rent an actual tepee in the Oto or Pawnee tepee villages. Each tepee accommodates 6 to 8 people. Some concession has been made to modern comfort, though, with wooden floors replacing the packed earth of the traditional dwelling.
There are 21 housekeeping cabins, which have fully equipped kitchenettes among their more modern amenities. These cabins also have bathrooms, and linens are provided.
Platte River SP, 14421 346th St., Louisville, NE 68037-3001 -- Phone: (402) 234-2217 -- ngpc.Platte.River@nebraska.gov