Fort Robinson State Park is 22,000 acres. Although still providing good pine habitat, a forest fire in 1989 destroyed much of the best sections of the park, which does offer lodging and eating facilities. A nesting area for white-throated swifts occurs six miles west of headquarters. Bighorn sheep reintroduced to the area may be seen among the buttes.
Fort Robinson is a historic outpost which served from the days of Indian Wars through World War II. This was the site of the 1879 Cheyenne Outbreak and the death of famed Sioux Chief Crazy Horse. The fort has served as the Red Cloud Indian Agency, a cavalry remount station, K-9 dog training center, POW camp and beef research station. The State Historical Society operates a museum and several restored or reconstructed exhibit buildings on-site.
Smiley Canyon is nearby and a good birding site. Access to this canyon is by the old road up the Pine Ridge escarpment just west of Fort Robinson State Park. About a mile west of Fort Robinson, take the paved road to the right (north) that passes through grasslands for a while until it reaches ponderosa pines. This area is part of the extensive Fort Robinson burn of a few years ago. The burn is of interest to birders as it is expected to attract post-burn-loving woodpeckers like Lewis’, black-backed, and three-toed. The latter is least likely, but the population of black-backed in the Black Hills of South Dakota is expanding and might lead to a few birds locating in this burn in Nebraska. To really check this possibility one should hike ridges to the north, looking for woodpeckers. The road exits onto Highway 20 near the top of the Pine Ridge escarpment, some 6 miles from Fort Robinson. (Information courtesy of Ross Silcock, via N.O.U. website.)
Other attractions include horseback riding, horse drawn park tours, open air Jeep rides among the buttes, nature tours on the Fort Robinson Express, and performances at the Post Playhouse. For more information visit the park website (details box on right).