Fort Kearny State Recreational Area

The park has a restored version of Fort Kearny including a stockade, parade grounds, blacksmith shop, pony express, stage station. The Fort was originally built to protect Overland Trail travelers. It is also a place from which one can watch field-feeding sandhill cranes in the spring This area has an interpretive center and concessions area and offers primitive camping. There is a nice birdfeeding station located by the rangers quarters north of the interpretive center. The historical park blends the history of the Platte river Valley with its ecology and natural history.

The Visitor Center opens in early March for the crane migration and provides information about crane and waterfowl viewing. There is a gift shop and a variety of displays. The Hike/Bike Trail is a mile east of the Fort and is a well maintained, handicapped-accessible trail across the Platte River on a former railroad bridge. It provides an excellent view of the river and the woods along its banks and islands. Birds that can be seen along the trail include bald eagles, geese and ducks in January and February; Sandhill cranes and American woodcock in March; warblers and other passerines in April, May and June. This is one of the few public state areas where hunting is not allowed so there are birds there in the fall. This is a very good area for watching sandhill cranes at sunset and sunrise. Sometimes American woodcocks can be seen displaying near the north end of the bridge at sunset. Stop at the Historical Park for information and a park permit. The four-mile trail leads to Bassway Strip Wildlife Management Area along the two northernmost channels of the Platte. Arrangements for crane viewing blinds can be made here. State park entry permit is required. CallĀ 308-865-5305 for information.