There is currently five National Park Service Site in Nebraska and five associated sites.
Official National Parks of Nebraska
- Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
- Homestead National Monument of America
- Missouri National Recreational River
- Niobrara National Scenic River
- Scotts Bluff National Monument
Associated sites of Nebraska
- California National Historic Trail
- Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
- Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail
- Oregon National Historic Trail
- Pony Express National Historic Trail
National Parks of Nebraska
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Homestead National Monument of America
Missouri National Recreational River
Missouri National Recreational River is a 98 miles section of the Missouri River along with 20 miles of the lower Niobrara River and 8 miles of the Verdigre Creek along the borders of South Dakota and Nebraska. This section of the Missouri River is the only section not controlled by a dam or in channels.
Visitors will find the river wild and untamed much as Lewis and Clark saw on their expedition to the Pacific Ocean. It is possible to launch canoes and kayaks to explore the river. Head to Ponca State Park and Niobrara State Park for visitor services.
Missouri National Recreational River was established on November 10, 1978.
Niobrara National Scenic River
Scotts Bluff National Monument
California National Historic Trail
The California National Historic Trail is a massive 5,000 mile trail and runs thru 10 different states. This trail retraces the overland routes over 250,000 emigrants took to reach the fertile farmlands and famed gold fields of California in the 1840’s and 1850’s.
Unlike some of the other trails of the National Trails System, the California Trail isn’t a single hiking trail. It is a disconnected series of hiking trails, roads, and sites. Many of the US highways follow the wagon trail the settlers created as they rushed to California. Emigrants had a choice of routes across the United States. These trails start in Missouri and Nebraska. The then run thru Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming before splitting into Idaho and Utah. They go thru Nevada and into California and Oregon.
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail follows the route Meriwether Lewis and William Clark took across the United States’ newly purchased territory. The trail starts at Camp Dubois, Illinois and passes thru Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and ends in Washington. The trail is a combination of auto, land and water routes.
The Lewis and Clark expedition started in May 1804 with the goal to find a practical route across the western region of North America. They were to lay claim to these lands to limit European expansion. The expedition was a success. Lewis and Clark crossed the Louisiana purchase and made it to the Pacific Ocean. They recorded the plants, animals, and landscapes as they traveled. They laid the foundations for future relationships with the American Indian tribes of the relationships.
The trail was established on November 10, 1978. There are over 100 stops along the trail.
Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail
Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail follows the 1,300-mile route many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints traveled from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah. Between 1846 and 1868, over 14,000 Mormons followed their leader Brigham Young west to build a new settlement. From Council Bluffs, Iowa to Fort Bridger, Wyoming the Mormon Trail combines with the California and Oregon Trail. The Mormons were forced out of their early settlements due to conflict with other settlers.
The trail runs through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Utah. Today, the trail is mostly an autoroute. The route stops in several other National Parks Sites such as Chimney Rock National Historic Site, Scotts Bluff National Monument and Fort Laramie National Historic Site.
Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail was established on November 10, 1978.
Oregon National Historic Trail
The Oregon National Historic Trail is often called the Oregon Trail. This 2,170-mile trail was used to travel from Independence, Missouri to Oregon Territory. These men and women headed west to fertile farmlands. The first half of the trail was used by travelers on the California National Historic Trail and the Mormon National Historic Trail.
Roughly 400,000 people packed up their lives into covered wagons to follow the Oregon Trail. Several stops along the Oregon Trail are their own national park sites such as Scotts Bluff National Monument, Fort Laramie National Historic Site, Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, and Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Many other sites are within a couple hours drive of the trail.
Today, the trail runs thru Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. The Oregon National Historic Trail is mostly an autoroute.
Pony Express National Historic Trail
The Pony Express National Historic Trail follows the 1860 and 1861 mail route used by the Pony Express to transport mail between Missouri to California. The Pony Express used a relay of horse-mounted riders. The system was set-up so that riders would ride between 186 Pony Express stations. The stations were between 5-25 miles apart. At each station, the rider would switch to a fresh horse and continue on their journey. The Pony Express reduced the time to for a letter to travel across the US from six months to 10 days. After 18 months of speedy mail delivery, the Pony Express was replaced with the telegraph.
Pony Express National Historic Trail was declared a National Historic Trail on August 3, 1992. Today it is mostly an auto-touring route starting in Missouri and traveling through Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada on the way to California. There are sections of the trail where visitors can hike or ride along the trail. The trail is still being developed for tourism but there are several stations and museums along the route so visitors can learn more about the Pony Express.
In Nebraska, there are numerous related sites including Rock Creek Station State Historical Park, Kiowa Station, Smith-Simonton Site, Fort Kearny State Historical Park, Willow Creek Pony Express Station, Mud Springs State Historical Site & Pony Express Station, and many more.