Where is Fort Robinson State Park
Located in the state's Pine Ridge region, Fort Robinson State Park resides entirely within the state of Nebraska. The most popular feature of the start park is the namesake former US army fort, Fort Robinson. However, Fort Robinson State Park also contains a museum, a campground, miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails, and a nine-hole golf course. The closest city to the state park is Crawford, Nebraska. Fort Robinson State Park is located 125 miles (about a two-hour drive) south of Rapid City, South Dakota. From Casper, Wyoming the Park is 160 miles (two-and-a-half-hour drive). The Park is also 80 miles (about an hour and fifteen-minute drive) north of Scottsbluff, Nebraska. The state park is also located near several other outdoor recreation areas. These recreation areas include Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Custer State Park, and Wind Cave National Park.
How Large is Fort Robinson State Park
Fort Robinson State Park covers over 22,000 acres. The park’s geography mainly consists of rolling hills, open plains, and acres of forest. The state park provides access to the state’s Pine Ridge scenery, old west history, and the area’s natural resources. The hiking trails at Fort Robinson State Park traverse over 60 miles. Certain trails in the park are also designated for biking and horseback riding. The park’s campground gives visitors the option to reserve sites equipped with water and electric hookups or sites better suited for tent campers. The Nebraska State Historical Society operates a historical museum on the park’s premises, and the University of Nebraska operates the Trailside Museum which discusses the park’s natural history and ecology.
Fort Robinson State Park Weather
The weather at Fort Robinson State Park changes frequently throughout the year. In summer, temperatures in the park average between 55- and 95-degrees Fahrenheit, and winter temperatures in the park average between 10- and 45-degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest days of the year appear in Fort Robinson State Park in June, July, and August. The coldest days in the park arrive in December and January. On average, Fort Robinson State Park and the surrounding area receives around 35 days of rain per year. These 35 days of rain normally result in a total of around 15 inches of rain per year. The park also consistently sees snowfall in the winter months. The yearly snowfall average for the park is around 38 inches.
When did Fort Robinson Become a State Park
Fort Robinson State Park first became a state park in 1956. The namesake fort found on the state park property was built in 1873. Fort Robinson played a critical role in early wars between US armed forces and several native American tribes. Crazy Horse surrendered at Fort Robinson in 1877. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission purchased the land in 1955 in an effort to keep the land instead of redistributing it to Native Americans living in the area. Fort Robinson State Park increased in size significantly in 1972 when the Nebraska state government purchased the adjoining James Arthur Ranch.
Things to do in Fort Robinson State Park
Fort Robinson State Park offers visitors the chance to simultaneously become oriented with the natural world of Nebraska’s Pine Ridge region and the area's old west history. The most popular attractions and adventures found in Fort Robinson State Park are listed and discussed below.
Explore the Visitor Center
The visitor center at Fort Robinson State Park provides the perfect starting point for any visitors Nebraska state park adventure. The visitors center can provide visitors access to park map’s, camping information, and trail conditions and details. Exhibits and educational displays found throughout the visitor center can also provide visitors with information regarding the park’s history, ecology, and cultural ties. Visitors with additional or more specific questions can also utilize the knowledge park staff who work in the park’s visitor center.
Join an Interpretive Program
After exploring the Fort Robinson State Park visitor center, eager visitors looking to learn more about the park, or a specific topic should join one or more interpretive programs the park offers. These programs vary in topic but normally discuss topics relating to the Pine Ridge region’s geography, the wildlife found in Fort Robinson State Park, or the influence Fort Robinson had on the west and Native Americans. All programs offered in the state park operate on a rotating schedule that changes from week to week. The weekly event schedule is normally posted on the park’s website and in the park’s visitor center.
Hike in the Pine Ridge Region
Fort Robinson State Park maintains and manages more than 60 miles of hiking and biking trails. These trails allow visitors of the park to explore and experience the many ecosystems of the Pine Ridge region of Nebraska. The trails in the park vary in difficulty and length. More information regarding the park’s trails can be obtained and accessed from the park’s trail map, the park’s website, and the park’s visitor center.
Explore the Fort Robinson History Museum
The Fort Robinson History Museum is maintained and operated by the Nebraska State Historical Society. This organization utilizes the museum and several other buildings around the state park to educate visitors on Fort Robinson, its history and its involvement in the settlement of the west. Visitors eager to explore the history museum will find various exhibits that contain old west artifacts, information stanchions, and Native American relics.
Explore the Trailside Museum
The Trailside Museum at Fort Robinson State Park is maintained by the University of Nebraska. The museum’s main purpose is to educate visitors on the importance, elegance, and beauty of the Pine Ridge region. Inside the museum, visitors will find various exhibits that replicate ecosystems found throughout the park.
Fort Robinson State Park covers over 22,000 acres. These 22,000 acres are called home by a variety of wildlife species. In addition to the park’s herds of longhorns and buffalo, visitors hiking around the park may also spot white-tailed deer, mule deer, wild turkeys, coyotes, bobcats, squirrels, hawks, eagles, and a variety of other species. More information on wildlife in the park can be obtained from the park’s visitor center.
Camping in Fort Robinson State Park
The campground at Fort Robinson State Park contains campgrounds equipped with water and electric hookups and campsites more suited for tent campers. These campsites can be reserved online through the park’s website and reservation portal. Visitors looking to stay within Fort Robinson State Park during peak season should make their reservations several weeks in advance.
When to visit Fort Robinson State Park
Fort Robinson State Park is open throughout the entire year. The park occasionally closes during inclement winter weather events to ensure park staff and visitor safety. The best time to plan a trip to Fort Robinson State Park is during the spring and summer. During these seasons temperatures in the park allow visitors to take full advantage of the park’s activities and adventures. Also during the season, the park offers a wider variety of interpretive programs.
Must Have Items to Bring to Fort Robinson State Park
Visitors planning a trip to Fort Robinson State Park will want to bring several essential items along with them to the park. These items can improve comfort, safety, and overall park enjoyment. The following list includes several essential items visitors won't want to forget to pack.
Water & High Energy Snacks
Water and high energy snacks are essential for every outdoor trip. These items allow visitors to remain hydrated and energized during long hikes and extended camping trips. Visitors planning to spend extended periods of time recreating in the park should bring additional supplies of water and snacks. The best snacks for outdoor trips are lightweight, easy to consume, and full of energy. Beef jerky, dried fruit, and protein bars are great options.
Sturdy Hiking Boots
All visitors planning to hike within Fort Robinson State Park should arrive at the state park with a sturdy pair of hiking boots. A sturdy pair of hiking boots will allow visitors to safely traverse the many trails Fort Robinson State Park has to offer. Visitors looking for additional comfort and support should look to invest in a lightweight and waterproof pair.
Layers of Clothing
The nightly temperatures of Fort Robinson State Park can drop suddenly. Campers and visitors looking to spend all day in the state park should look to bring several layers of clothing with them to the park.
Wildlife Field Guides
Visitors of Fort Robinson State Park looking to learn more about the park’s wildlife should bring along a wildlife field guide. The best field guides include color pictures and a lengthy species description that make identification easy.
The best way to ensure you remember to pack all of the necessary camping equipment prior to leaving for Fort Robinson State Park is to create and utilize a camping checklist. These checklists can make packing and planning way easier.
Where to Stay in Fort Robinson State Park
Visitors looking to stay in Fort Robinson State Park should make a reservation for one of the park’s historic rooms or campsites. These reservations can be made online through the park’s website and reservation portal. Visitors looking to stay in a hotel in the surrounding area should check out options in Crawford. Visitors looking for additional lodging options or to stay in a larger city should make the drive to Rapid City or Scottsbluff.
Food Near Fort Robinson State Park
The closest food to Fort Robinson State Park can be found in Crawford. However, the city only has a few restaurant options and about two grocery stores. Visitors looking for more options or something specific should make the drive to either Rapid City or Scottsbluff. Each of these two cities are significantly larger and have more options in the way of bars, restaurants, and grocery stores.
Airports Near Fort Robinson State Park
The closest airport to Fort Robinson State Park is located in Scottsbluff. The Western Nebraska Regional Airport is located 84 miles and about an hour and a half hour drive away from the park. The next closest airport to Fort Robinson State Park is located in Rapid City, South Dakota. The Rapid City Regional Airport is located 131 miles and a two hour and fifteen-minute drive north of the state park.