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Indian Cave State Park Camping

Annual Passport Program Links Natives And Newcomers To Nebraska’s Hidden Gems

Scamp Camping at Indian Cave State Park
  • JENNA EBBERSLincoln Journal Star
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Tim and Sandy Bice completed their 70th and final stop on the Nebraska Passport program at Wildcat Hills near Gering.

  • Courtesy Photo

The Paden family crosses the Meridian Bridge, which connects Nebraska with Yankton, S.D. The bridge was one of 70 Nebraska Passport stops in 2021.

  • Courtesy Photo

Bob Marshall grew up in Nebraska and has lived here for nearly his entire life.

But at age 68, he still hasn’t seen all of his home state. The Nebraska Passport program is helping him get there.

We are lifelong Nebraskans, and there are just a lot of interesting things, places and people in our state,” Marshall said. “The more passport sites that weve visited in the state, the more enthralled we were in our great state and all the things that are in it.”

The Nebraska Passport program, organized by Nebraska Tourism, connects natives and newcomers to the Cornhusker State with hidden gems from border to border. Each year, 70 stops are selected, from state parks to museums, restaurants, stores and more.

Participants can visit a handful of stops, or they can set out to collect stamps from every location.

Bustoberfest #22 October 15


Our venue: INDIAN CAVE STATE PARK is a beautiful wooded park in the southeast corner of Nebraska with a huge vista of the Missouri River and lands to the South and East.The event starts on Friday but weve had some folks arrive a day or 2 before. Buses arrive through Saturday so get there when you can.

Please be respectful of other campers and follow the Park rules. This includes keeping the noise level down at night , needless revving of engines,etc.) We have a great relationship with the Park Administration. They go out of there way to accommodate us and we would like to keep it that way.

Leave NO litter behind. There are trash bins provided for your trash. This includes foods, cans, and anything that wouldnt have been there had younot attended.

Saturday afternoon we have the Trick or Treat by the Buses event. It is an official Park event so in the past weve had hundreds of parents and kids wander through the camp in costume. Bring candy and a costume and decorations for the bus is always great.

For our Saturday night hoopla, please feel free to bring some food to share with others. Consider this the *MOST* informal form of potluck youve ever heard of.

Music is encouraged and appreciated. If you play an instrument, bring it along. Everyone enjoys music around the campfire so guitars, banjos, ukuleles,bongos, drums, anything is encouraged. Just be prepared to play in a group jam session!

What is there to do?

Where You Can Look Down On Soaring Eagles And Feel The Power Of The Missouri River

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The Midwest is known for things like soybeans and corn, not for its backpacking destinations. But along the Missouri River in Nebraska, a bizarre twist of geology has left behind bluffs better suited to hardwood forests than cash crops. Some of the most spectacular of these geological gifts lie within Indian Cave State Park.

The park is set in the Loess hills area of the Missouri River Valley. These loamy mounds were created when the last glaciers retreated and enormous quantities of windblown silt were deposited along the edge of the Missouri Valley. The result is a chain of 300-foot-high ridges extending from northern Iowa to Kansas City. To find similarly dramatic examples of these landforms, youd have to visit Chinas Yellow River or Germanys Rhine.

Seasonal streams carve through the ridges, and each is nestled in a deep ravine. There isnt much more than 200 feet of total elevation change in the park, but you can get worn out climbing that 200 feet over and over again.

The rest of the park is a fragile place. Loess is basically packed dirt, not rock, so its tremendously vulnerable to erosion.

Besides the natural charm of the loess hills, the park offers a few historic attractions. The oldest is the parks namesake cave, nestled at the foot of the bluffs where the loess finally meets real rock. Petroglyphs still exist, although debates continue as to what culture created them and during what period.

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More Indian Cave State Park Activities

Since our visit was just one day, we did not get to enjoy all the activities the state park has to offer. Here are a few of the fun things families can do at Indian Cave State Park:

Horseback trail rides are available in season. Kids ages 6 and older can do the trail rides at Indian Cave State Park. Trail rides are $18 per rider.

There is a restored schoolhouse and general store from the old river town of St. Deroin, where old-time crafts are demonstrated on weekends during the summer.

Indian Cave State Park holds Christmas in the July every year on the last Saturday of July. Meet Santa Claus, go on horse-drawn sleigh rides, listen to storytellers and watch a Christmas movie outdoors.

Halloween is celebrated throughout October. Expect hayrack rides on certain dates, as well as a haunted forest called Haunted Hollow. After hearing the soapmaker describe it , Id suggest only older kids go to it! The Haunted Hollow hayrack ride is $8 for adults and $6 for children.

Each spring, the state park has the Outdoor Adventure. Held on the last Saturday in April, there are family activities, including a fun run, hayrack rides and cooking demonstrations.

Primitive and RV camping is allowed at Indian Cave State Park. If youre more of a cabin-type of a camper , youll want to visit a different Nebraska State Park.

Visit Indian Cave State Park

the petersons: Camping at Indian Cave State Park

Contact Information:


To leave a message to request brochures: 826-PARK

Location Straddling the Richardson-Nemaha county line, Indian Cave State Park is in the southeast corner of Nebraska.

Getting There Take I-29 south from Omaha to U.S. 136 West. At Brownville, turn south on NE 67 and follow the signs down a dead-end state highway to the park.

Season Spring and fall are best for hiking. Midsummer is hot. Park trails are open to backcountry skiers, but you should call ahead to check on snow conditions. Most park roads are closed to cars in winter but remain open to hikers and skiers.

Wildlife The bluffs along the Missouri River provide food and cover for hawks, eagles, and coyotes.

Insects High temperatures cause insect problems: mosquitoes around wet areas and horseflies elsewhere.

Plant Life Rich soil has covered these hills in an earthen mantle of native prairies and hardwood forests. Established trails wind through both ecosystems, and the terrain can be challenging.

Facilities By looking at its layout, you can tell this park is run with backcountry hiking and skiing in mind.

Parking Three parking lots offer handy access.

Permits Day, season, and camping permits are available at the park entrance.Developed campgrounds are $7 per night $3 extra for hook-ups.

Policies Camping is limited to a 14-day stay.

Hazards The cave is readily accessible, although the trail is steep.

Little-Known Fact: Indian Cave State Parks 3,052 acres include 2,386 acres of timber.

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Explore Indian Cave State Park On Your Next Vacation

From the prehistoric petroglyphs of Indian Cave, for which the park is named, to the spectacular views across the Missouri River, visiting Nebraska’s Indian Cave State Park offers vacationers plenty to see and do. Indian Cave State Park cabins provide visitors with the chance to explore the park at their leisure, and enjoy a variety of family activities held throughout the year, set against the backdrop of a spectacular landscape.

Hill Biking Indian Caves State Park

After a number of explorations through the recently gotten land, settlement began. Fearless easterners, immigrants, as well as exploiting entrepreneurs relocated west to make something of themselves. Settlement began first in Iowa, then pushed additionally right into Nebraska around the 1820s. Early settlements were mostly fur trading messages and government fts as the land still technically belonged to the tribes initially living in the location. While some locations on the southern boarder of the state were withdraw early in the 19th century, most were still in control of different people up until regarding 1854 when the Nebraska Region was developed. Beginning with the start, the location currently referred to as Nebraska was house to a number of Native American tribes including the Otoe, Missouri, Omaha, Pawnee, Lakota, Kansas, Ponca, Cheyenne, and Arapaho.

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Back To The Cars And Truck And Afterwards Out Of The Park

Camping reservations are readily available up to one year ahead of arrival for fifty percent of the electric camping sites in Ash Grove and also Hackberry Hollow campgrounds. All campers should check in at the park entry or office upon arrival. For those camping flat-out, please go to park entry cubicle or office upon arrival to check schedule and also register to camp. If arriving after hrs, campers register their nightly camping fees in an increased secured box called an Iron Ranger. Self-service envelopes are supplied at the Iron Ranger situated at the park entrance. On-site outdoor camping informative signs are provided to help guide campers with the self-registration process.

A number of the tribes along the Missouri River farmed along the rich sediment lands of the river bases while those more west were seeker gatherers. When the French arrived in the 17th century the people started trading with them. I needed to know more regarding what this park was as well as just how it became a park so right here it is. For a full checklist of all state park, state entertainment location and also state historic park fees, view all park charges making use of the switch listed below. A park access authorization is needed and also might be purchased at the park, statewide Game and Parks workplaces and also allow vendors or before your arrival online. Indian Cavern State Park supplies booking of fifty percent of the electrical campsites up to one year in advance.

Beginning To Explore Petroglyphs

Indian Cave State Park

Long-time friend Patti Meade hosted a trip into Southeast Nebraska to visit Indian Cave State Park, a nature area of historical significance for two reasons:

At its location along the Missouri River ten miles south of Brownville and 8 miles east of Shubert, Nebraska, this area was visited on July 14, 1804, by the exploration group lead by Lewis & Clark. The expedition stopped here ten days after naming Independence Creek, while stopped near Atchison, Kansas, on Independence Day. They then journeyed north and west by boat, searching for a path to the Pacific Ocean that might cross the North American continent.

Long before Lewis & Clark came through, however, an overhanging cliff near the river had caught the attention of Native tribes of the Midwest. Such places were sought after by nomadic peoples who traveled through the area to follow game used to feed their families. Such spots as this offered both shelter and fresh water from a nearby spring. Ancient petroglyphs etched into the stone of this place bears prehistoric Native American petroglyphs of an unknown date and origin. They can be viewed from a wooden boardwalk extending the length of the cave wall.

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In 2021, that meant stopping at Michelle’s Scrumptious Bakery in Juniata , the Montz Motorcycle Museum in Tecumseh and Shelmadine Print Shop in Alliance.

Its really great because you can participate as much as you like or as much as you are able and still get a good variety of places to go to,” said Madison Johnson, program coordinator. “Its not just museums or restaurants, theres a great variety.”

The program runs from May 1 to Sept. 20 each year, with stops in larger cities such as Lincoln and Omaha, and plenty in rural Nebraskan towns like Arnold and Dwight.

The stops vary each year and are chosen through an application process. In 2021, the program received over 300 applications from Nebraska businesses to be included on the list.

The program highlights a lot of different places across Nebraska, including some really wonderful small businesses and tourist attractions,” Johnson said.

Weve always had respect for smaller towns and communities in Nebraska and what a great challenge it is to keep small towns vibrant and growing. We are really proud of our small-town heritage,” Marshall said.

For the Chung family, the prizes add a sense of excitement and competition.

Amanda Chung, 36, participates in the program with her husband and three children, often competing against her parents to hit prize thresholds the fastest.

Nebraska Game And Parks Contest Winner Gets New Camper After Documenting 2021 Travels

Kathryn Romine takes a disco ball from her daughter Jemma Pavlik to decorate her new camper Friday at Mahoney State Park. Romine won the camper after completing the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Your Park Adventure competition in 2021.

  • GWYNETH ROBERTS, Journal Star

Kathryn Romine looks over the camper she won after completing the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Your Park Adventure contest in 2021. Bob Fielder, the general manager of AC Nelsen RV World, which donated the camper, shows her the features of the Forest River RV.

  • GWYNETH ROBERTS, Journal Star

Kathryn Romine smiles outside her new camper Friday at Mahoney State Park.

  • GWYNETH ROBERTS, Journal Star

ASHLAND Kathryn Romine is sure to visit many Nebraska state parks and landmarks this year, just as she did in 2021. But this time, her travels will be a little more comfortable.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission awarded a new camper to the Lincoln woman Friday at Mahoney State Park as part of its Your Park Adventure competition, which celebrated 100 years of Nebraska state parks.

Romine was one of 800 participants to visit the four sites. Without the contest, Romine said she likely never wouldve experienced the beauty and excitement the parks have to offer.

Kathryn Romine’s photo at Arbor Lodge submitted as part of the Your Parks Adventure competition.

I was so in shock, Romine said. I think I stopped breathing.”

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Exploring Indian Cave State Park With Kids

Not far from the Missouri border in southeastern Nebraska, about 10 miles from Brownville, is the Nebraska attraction, Indian Cave State Park. Its known for great hiking trails, but also the activities that appeal to kids.

This post was first written in 2014 and updated in 2020 with up-to-date park prices, hours and activities.

A little off the beaten path, this gorgeous park is located near the Missouri River and is known for its namesake, Indian Cave. For a detailed history, head to the Journal Star.

If youve been to the Loess Hills in southwest Iowa, this park will have a familiar feel to it given that it is, in fact set in the Loess Hills .

There are lots of campsites and backcountry camping is allowed so Mr. Wonderful and I decided we may just come back in the fall to camp here.

With a park map in hand, thats where we headed to first. Having only seen one picture of the park, I honestly expected the cave to be cavernous. Something we could walk in and explore. Maybe its the Goonies fan in me.

What we saw, then, was a disappointment.

UPDATE: The steps to the cave have been closed for months. Nebraska Game and Parks said the cave can be viewed from the road, but from my recollection, the view isnt great.

The graffiti couldnt be ignored. It covered the walls of this landmark. Plus, it turned out its a cave you cant enter and its not that deep.

Farley and I did attempt to find the prehistoric petroglyphs of animals on the wall amid the graffiti.

We Love To Hike At The Park Because Of The Beautiful Nature And Views

the petersons: Camping at Indian Cave State Park

If you hike as a family, keep in mind that this area has a lot of wildlife. We always make sure our children and pets stay on the trails and wear closed-toed shoes, and preferably pants. There are many beautiful birds and wildflowers all around the park, so binoculars and cameras are a must. In the fall, my kids love to spot the brightly colored trees and hunt for colored leaves on the ground. At night, we love to gaze at the stars on clear nights and listen to the owls hooting and coyotes howling.

If you are itching to get out of the house without having to plan a huge vacation for the family, Indian Cave State Park is a great option. You can adapt the trip according to your familys desires, whether it be hiking, boating, picnicking, bicycling, horseback riding, or just sitting and taking in a view, you can have a relaxing day in nature while soaking in a little history.

For more information about the park, visit their website.

Whats your favorite nearby road trip? Please share with us in the comments below.

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Indian Cave State Park Is By Far One Of My Favorite Spots For Primitive Camping Near Omaha

Although it can get crowded, there are many campsites available, and they are spaced out in a way that you are not crowded next to other campers. The park is very clean, and there are outhouses close to most campsites. You do need to come prepared with supplies because there are not many restaurants or stores anywhere near the park.

The park has a rich history, including its own town history, Native American roots, and it is part of the Lewis and Clark trail. During the summer and fall, they have living history weekends. We have never made it to one of these, but it is on my list of things to do here.

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