The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission state parks system was established in 1921 when the State Park Board was created within the Department of Public Works. That year the legislature set aside one section of school property in the Pine Ridge, which became Chadron State Park.
That Dawes County property became Nebraska’s first state park, and it was followed in 1923 by the first state recreation area at Victoria Springs and the first state historical park at Arbor Lodge in Nebraska City.
A little more than 30 years later, in 1959, the State Park Board was established by the legislature as the Division of State Parks, a part of the Game, Forestation, and Parks Commission, which became the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission in 1967.
The Division of State Parks shares a commitment to people, preservation, service, and leadership and the belief that parks are the gateway to the outdoors. Where the division once simply wanted to provide a place to go, it now works to expand amenities and activities to enhance visitors’ experiences.
Just like their ancestors, Nebraskans continue to swim, canoe, fish, camp and seek out Nebraska’s wild and scenic places.
Our parks legacy was never to simply build, maintain and preserve state park and recreation areas. It’s always been to inspire.
Because these are your parks, your memories, and your adventures.
View a StoryMap timeline of our parks.
We’re hosting a yearlong celebration to honor our parks’ history and tradition while looking forward to an exciting future. We’ll be hosting park events aimed at all interests — camping, hiking, fishing, re-enactments and more — throughout the year.
A traveling history trailer is in development to share a hands-on experience of the parks system’s rich history at events across the state, and we’ll also be hosting a Your Parks Adventure campaign to challenge visitors to share their love of the Great Outdoors with us.