Article Summary: National Parks Near Omaha
National Parks near Omaha! There’s so much more to the Great American Midwest than Cornhusker Stadium on a Saturday night.
In this article, we’ll familiarize you with the incredible national parks that are within a day’s drive of downtown Omaha.
I’ve been to so many of these amazing places since retiring from teaching in 2018. Did I mention that I taught history? I spent a lifetime teaching about the history behind these momentous sites. Then I got to see them firsthand. And now I’m sharing the stories of these incredible places with you. It doesn’t get any better than that!
Omaha is home to one of the world’s best zoos. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium is more like a biological park, dedicated to conservation around the globe and home to the world’s largest indoor desert, world’s largest glazed geodesic dome, and North America’s largest indoor rainforest.
It’s also home to some amazing national parks which are within a day’s drive (or less) of the city.
So, What Is A National Park?
We get asked that question a lot because there’s a difference between a “national park” and a “national park site.” To help you understand that difference you might want to check out our article titled: What Is A National Park Really?
If you’re planning a trip to Omaha then one book that I highly recommend is: GREATER THAN A TOURIST- OMAHA NEBRASKA USA: 50 Travel Tips from a Local by Mitzi Klimek.
Now let’s go ahead with 4 reasons why you’ll want to hop in your car and make a day’s drive from Omaha to one of these truly amazing places.
Table Of Contents: National Parks Near Omaha
National Parks Near Omaha
- Best National Parks Near Omaha
- More National Parks Near Omaha
- National Parks Near Omaha FAQ
- Meet The Parks Brothers
- Map Of National Parks Near Omaha
- We Hope You’ll Follow Our Journey
Best National Parks Near Omaha
1. Homestead National Historical Park
Distance From Omaha: One hour & 36 minutes via I-80 W & US-77 S/Homestead Expy.
Homestead National Historical Park was established to commemorate the Homestead Act of 1862, which provided land to American citizens and encouraged westward expansion and settlement in the United States.
The Homestead Act allowed people to claim up to 160 acres of public land if they agreed to live on and cultivate the land for at least five years. This legislation opened up vast areas of the West to settlement, and the park preserves the story of one of the first homesteads established under the act.
The park includes a visitors center with exhibits on the history of the Homestead Act and the homesteading experience, as well as a reconstructed homestead cabin and other historic structures. Visitors can also explore the park’s nature trail, which provides a glimpse into the prairie ecosystem, and see a working replica of a one-room schoolhouse.
In addition to its historical significance, Homestead National Historical Park is also known for its natural beauty, with rolling prairies, tallgrass, and wildflowers that are typical of the Great Plains.
The park is a popular destination for history buffs, outdoor enthusiasts, and families, and offers a unique glimpse into the history of the American West and the story of the homesteaders who helped settle the region.
CHECK OUT: 5 MUST-SEE HISTORIC SITES IN OKLAHOMA
2. Missouri National Recreational River
Distance From Omaha: Two hours & 23 minutes via I-29 N.
The Missouri National Recreational River is a scenic and recreational destination located in southeastern South Dakota and northeastern Nebraska.
It was established to preserve the natural beauty and unique cultural and historical resources of the Missouri River and to provide recreational opportunities for the public.
The Missouri National Recreational River is centered around the Missouri River, which is the longest river in North America and a major waterway that played a crucial role in the settlement and development of the American West.
The river is renowned for its scenic beauty, with dramatic bluffs, rolling prairies, and lush forests, and is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and wildlife watching.
In addition to its natural beauty, the recreational river is also home to a rich cultural and historical heritage, with historic sites, including Fort Randall Dam, a former army fort, and the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center, which highlights the story of the famous explorers and their journey up the Missouri River.
Visitors can also explore the park’s hiking trails and campgrounds and enjoy ranger-led programs and special events throughout the year.
CHECK OUT: 5 MUST-SEE HISTORIC SITES IN MISSOURI
More National Parks Near Omaha
3. Niobrara National Scenic River
Distance From Omaha: Four hours & 35 minutes via US-275 W.
The Niobrara National Scenic River was established as a National Scenic River in 1991 to protect its unique and valuable scenic, recreational, geological, fish and wildlife, historical, and cultural resources.
The Niobrara National Scenic River is centered around the Niobrara River, which is renowned for its clear, fast-moving waters and stunning scenic beauty, with dramatic cliffs, lush forests, and rolling prairies.
The river is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and wildlife watching, and is home to a diverse array of plant and animal species, including several species of fish found nowhere else in the world.
In addition to its natural beauty, the Niobrara National Scenic River is also significant for its cultural and historical resources, with historic sites, including the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center, which highlights the story of the famous explorers and their journey up the Missouri River, as well as several Native American sites that provide a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the region.
Visitors can enjoy a variety of recreational activities in the Niobrara National Scenic River, including hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife watching, as well as ranger-led programs and special events throughout the year.
4. Scotts Bluff National Monument
Distance From Omaha: Six hours & 40 minutes via I-80 W.
Granted, it’s a long day’s drive from Omaha, but well worth the time spent in your car especially if you travel with folks you get along with.
Scotts Bluff National Monument is a protected area located in western Nebraska, near the city of Gering. The monument was established in 1919 to commemorate the history and natural beauty of the region and to preserve the rich cultural and historical resources of the area.
Scotts Bluff National Monument is centered around a series of large rock formations, known as bluffs, that rise dramatically from the surrounding plains.
These bluffs were a landmark for pioneers traveling along the Oregon, California, and Mormon Pioneer trails, and the monument preserves this important piece of American history.
Visitors to the monument can explore its rich cultural and natural resources, including historic sites, hiking trails, and scenic overlooks.
The visitors center provides a wealth of information about the history and geology of the bluffs, and ranger-led programs and special events are offered throughout the year.
William Henry Jackson Collection
He was also a gifted artist whose drawings and paintings provide valuable insights to life in a time when America was suffering through the Civil War and venturing westward in search of a national identity.
Scotts Bluff National Monument houses the world’s largest collection of original William Henry Jackson sketches, paintings, and photographs. (Source: National Park Service)
Seeing The Flora & Fauna At Scotts Bluff
Scotts Bluff National Monument is one of the few places in the Panhandle of Nebraska where wildlife is protected in a natural environment.
There you will find various species of reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals and invertebrates.
Wildlife commonly seen include coyote, mule deer, prairie dogs and rattlesnakes.
You can also find a variety of plants including Plains Prickly Pear, Ponderosa Pine, Rocky Mountain Juniper, Soapweed Yucca and Winterfat.
National Parks Near Omaha FAQ
Although there are no national parks in Nebraska like the most well-known ones in the country, there are five lovely national park sites to explore, including a historical park, scenic rivers, and national monuments.
Omaha was originally known for its railroads, breweries, stockyards and meatpacking – Founded in 1854, pioneers moved to Omaha to begin a new life along the Mississippi River. With so many passing through the city of Omaha to reach the “new West”, it quickly became known as a transportation hub.
Why Trust Us About National Parks Near Omaha?
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers (and sometimes the Parks Brothers) and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. We’ve spent our entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, USDA, and the U.S. Forest Service for years creating films on important places and issues. Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
Meet The Parks Brothers
Map Of National Parks Near Omaha
List Of National Parks Near Omaha
- Homestead National Historical Park
- Missouri National Recreational River
- Niobrara National Scenic River
- Scotts Bluff National Monument
We Hope You’ll Follow Our Journey
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
We hope you’ll follow our journey through the parks and help us to keep them the incredible places that they are. If you’re interested in joining the adventure then please sign up below!