Chadron State Park is located just nine miles south of Chadron among the Pine Ridge hills. The 972-acre area is unique; the scenic mountain-like hills where the park lies are surrounded by flat fields. This park is a refreshing break for both nearby residents and out-of-state visitors. In the mid-2000s, there was an extensive fire in the area that burned a good portion of the trees on the north side of the park. Today the area and the park have recovered and are still heavily covered with beautiful foliage. One of the best times of year to visit is in the fall; between September and October, the leaves change colors and create a scenic backdrop for outdoor activities.
Hiking trails are plentiful in this park; there are several different trails that each vary in length from a mile to over 7 miles. Some trails are paved well, making an optimal bike trail. The area is notably very dry most of the year, so visitors who are not accustomed to higher elevations should bring plenty of water and be aware of the lessened concentration of oxygen while hiking in this 5,000-foot elevation. Bringing mace or another form of self-defense is a good idea in Chadron State Park. Wildlife cameras have captured several photos of mountain lions in the area. While there have been no reports of attacks, it is important to be aware of their presence. There is also a fishing area, which is conveniently located immediately to the right just past the main entrance to the park. Local fishermen swear by using canned corn as bait; staying more than an hour and watching them will prove the success of this cheap bait choice. There are several types of lake fish in the water, but trout are the most sought-out fish for frying. Trout in this lake are fairly large; the water is frequently stocked.
Camping is also offered at Chadron State Park. The campground is considerably large, having 70 different sites for tents and recreational vehicles. There are 30-amp electrical outlets available. Ample water pumps are also found throughout the park’s campground area. It is important to keep all food in coolers or sealed containers. Most wildlife in the area that are interested in campers’ food are small, such as foxes or opossums. Cabins are also offered at the park. The park features 22 two-bedroom cabins; most are made of wood and have large screened windows. Cabins are only available from April through November. During the summer months, these spots fill up quickly, so it is important to reserve cabins in advance by contacting the state park’s main office.
There are also several other amenities in the park. During the warmer months of the year, there is a stable open that offers horseback trail rides. Tennis and volleyball courts are also found on the premises of the park. There is an outdoor swimming pool that is open during the summer. Also located in the park are rental stations for mountain bikes and paddle boats, which may be taken out on the lagoon. The park also features a craft center, souvenir shop, snack bar, picnic shelters, indoor conference areas, a dump station, showers, modern restrooms and evening entertainment programs. September is the most optimal month to visit this park. During this month, all seasonal amenities and trail rides are still available; also the weather is better than the typical hot summer temperatures and storms.
Chadron State Park is a favorite destination spot in the area, so plan a visit in advance if possible. For information about permit prices and requirements, contact the park’s main office. Their full contact address is:
Chadron State Park
15951 Hwy 385
Chadron, Nebraska 69337-7353
Information about the park can be found at http://www.stateparks.com/chadron.html. When visiting between April and September, be sure to bring bug spray and a good tick repellent that has DEET in it. The Pine Ridge is full of Ponderosa pine trees and thick brush, which is a prime breeding ground for deer ticks. Deer ticks are the vector responsible for transmitting Lyme disease, so be aware of their presence and know how to get rid of them.