Fort Robinson State Park is located just west of the small town of Crawford. This park is best known for its scenic hiking trails. State residents who want a change from the typical corn field views of Nebraska often seek out this park for a refreshing getaway – and to enjoy some unique scenery. What is most interesting about the geography of this park is that it includes a lot of hills, bluffs and forested areas. It resembles the Rocky Mountains that are much further west than it does the typical flat lands seen in most of the other areas of the state. Not only does this park offer unrivaled views, but it also has an intriguing and rich history in the Old West.
Originally the site of the fort in the park was an outpost from the time of the Indian Wars until the end of World War II. One of the most well-known battles was the Cheyenne Outbreak, in which the famous Chief Crazy Horse of the Sioux Indians was killed. The fort was used by the Red Cloud Tribe’s Agency as a remount station for the cavalry. It was then a dog training center for K-9 dogs, after which it became a camp for prisoners of war. Later it was a beef research plant. There is a historical museum on the premises of the park, owned and operated by the State Historical Society. Another museum operated by the University of Nebraska is located here – the Trailside Museum, dedicated to the land itself instead of the people who inhabited it.
Along with the many well-kept and marked trails, there are several other interesting things to do at the park. Horseback trail rides are equally as popular as walking hikes and provide a chance for visitors to enjoy the scenery while relaxing. Horseback tours that are arranged through the state park’s office are guided and charge a minimal fee. Another interesting way to see the sights for those who prefer not to hike on foot is by open-air Jeep rides through the buttes. Rides in the Fort Robinson Express are also an interesting way to view the sights. The old stagecoach gives visitors a look of what elegant transportation was like before the emergence of motor vehicles. In addition to the many species of trees, shrubs and flowers that grow wild in the area, there are some interesting wildlife. During certain times of the year, bison can be seen. Longhorn herds and mountain goats can also be seen in some areas. Deer, rabbits, foxes and even mountain lions are spotted on occasion. Beware of the rattlesnakes in the warmer months. They inhabit rocky areas, so avoid the temptation of wandering off the trails and climbing up the bluffs.
In addition to the rich history lessons and scenery, there are several other recreational activities to enjoy at Fort Robinson State Park. This is one of the few state parks in Nebraska that has both an indoor and outdoor pool. Along with the pools is a large outdoor sun deck. There is no need to drive several miles to the nearest town for meals; Fort Robinson Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the busy summer months. Catering is also offered for group functions that are planned and reserved in advance. Catered parties may be arranged between April and November. For the off season, snacks may be purchased in the Activity Center at Sutler’s Store nearby.
Camping options are diverse in Fort Robinson State Park. Every camper is required to register. There are cabins, camp sites and lodge rooms; stables can be rented for horses. Reservations are the best way to guarantee accommodations and can be taken up to one year in advance. There are lodge rooms with twin or double beds, brick officers quarters that house 14-20, adobes and cabins that house 4-12 and the Comanche Hall, able to house 60. There are several other accommodations that are also available for large parties. Meeting spaces can be reserved too. To obtain more information about these options or for general park information, contact the main office at:
PO Box 392
Crawford, Nebraska 69339-0392