Comprising over 22,000 acres of exquisite Pine Ridge scenery, Fort Robinson State Park is a dream RV destination for history buffs and recreation enthusiasts. Known as western Nebraska's premier state park, this area was previously a military camp that was established in 1874. The camp takes its name from Lt. Levi H. Robinson, who was killed by Indians while on a wood detail. Many famous military events took place in and around the base, including the Sioux Wars, the Battle of Warbonnet Creek and the Fort Robinson massacre. In 1919 at the end of World War I, Fort Robinson transformed into the world's largest quartermaster remount depot. It was used as a training and breeding center for military mules and horses and then was a K-9 corps training center and German prisoner-of-war camp during World War II.
In the present day, the park is a relaxing oasis that has many reminders of its past lives scattered throughout. The Fort Robinson Museum is a must see and there are also historic buildings still intact in the park. Recreational activities are abundant, with fishing, swimming, trail rides, hiking and kayaking being some of the most popular to choose from. There is also a restaurant in the park that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily during the summer season.
Fort Robinson State Park's shady campground offers 29 electric hookup, 16 full hookup and 92 primitive horse stall sites. These sites are all conveniently located to modern restrooms, water, showers, a dump station and picnic tables. The campground is open all year round and peak season in Fort Robinson State Park is April to November.
Fort Robinson State Park is super easy to find as it is just three miles west of Crawford on U.S. Highway 20. There are a few other small towns within 50 miles of the park, but in general the area is quite remote. The closest major city and townships are Rapid City, Casper and Scottsbluff but they are all at least an hour away. Because of this, make sure that you come prepared and have supplies that you need for your trip.
Driving during the winter can be a major headache if there has been snow and ice on the roads. The max temperature will usually be around 50 degrees on the hot days, so remember to pack your coat and chains for your RV!
Since this area of the country is quite remote there aren't too many ways to get lost on the roads to the park. From Scottsbluff, head north on NE-71 North. Continue on NE-71 North for around 76 miles. Turn left onto Highway 20 and then the park will be on the right.
From Casper, take I-25 South for around 60 miles. Take the US-18/US-20 East exit toward Lusk and then continue onto US-18 East for around 42 miles. Once you reach Lusk, take a right onto Hwy 20 East and follow that road for 54 miles. This will take you to the park and then turn left to enter.
Parking is aplenty at Fort Robinson State Park so you won't have to worry about the carpark being full.
Soldier Creek Campground is one of two campgrounds in Fort Robinson State Park that has the facilities available for RV camping. There are 18 sites in Soldier Creek Campground that feature 30 amp electrical hookups and are pet friendly. A big advantage of both this campground and Red Cloud is that the sites can accommodate RV's up to 60 feet in length. This is great news for those who are traveling with big rigs that struggle to find powered sites that can fit their vehicles.
There are three ADA approved disability sites in Soldier Creek Campground along with a water collection point that can be found on the western loop. This campground and Red Clouds don't have their own shower block, toilets and dump station but there is a central spot between the two campgrounds where these facilities are available. The campground is open all year round with electricity to the sites but the showers and water are shut down during the winter months.
Red Cloud Campground is the smaller of two RV friendly campgrounds at Fort Robinson State Park. There are only full hookup sites in this area with 16 being available that feature 50 amp connections, water hookups and they are pet friendly. It is a single loop that also has one ADA approved campsite for people with disabilities. There are no separate collection points since all sites have water hookups. You can find a shower block, toilets and dump station closer to Soldier Creek Campground. This isn't a huge issue as the campgrounds are not too far apart.
The campground is open all year round with electricity to the sites but the showers and water are shut down during the winter months. Reservations can be made up to a year in advance. A Nebraska State Park permit is required to enter the park or a daily permit which is $6 per day you are staying.
Throughout the summer season there are a few different tours of the park you can do which are unique to the park. You have the option to get whisked around in a Jeep, horse-drawn tour or do a stagecoach ride to view the park and the surrounding buttes. These tours will also take you around to the historical buildings within the park and is a great alternative to doing the building tours. Rides are available daily during summer and you make reservations at the park office.
For the RV history buffs there are two museum options for you at Fort Robinson State Park. The Nebraska State Historical Society operates a museum that includes many reconstructed or restored exhibit buildings to detail the Fort’s history. The University of Nebraska also operates the Trailside Museum, which focuses more on the geology and natural history of the region. The main exhibit at the Trailside Museum is two mammoths locked in battle along with fossils and skeletons from other native animals. The museums are open daily during the summer time.
Once the weather heats up outside you can cool off in Fort Robinson State Park at Lindeken Pool. Lindeken Pool is an indoor swimming pool that is fully equipped with change rooms, an outdoor area with a wading pool and an outdoor sun deck to soak up those summer rays. The pool is olympic sized and is very well maintained by the staff. The pool is staffed by two lifeguards and is open until 8PM.
Fort Robinson State Park has an astonishing 60 miles of hiking trails so you won't be short of new areas to explore during your stay. Some of the most popular trails are the Trooper Trail, Boots and Saddle Trail and the White River Trail. If you are pressed for time, try the White River Trail which is very scenic as it takes you along an old rail road track and across a few bridges that overlook the White River.
Fort Robinson State Park is a horse rider’s paradise! The park has 20 miles of trails, as well as many miles of fire service roads to ride and even more trails are available nearby at the Nebraska National Forest. There is also ample camping available for those with horses as there are stables available within the park. If you do plan to bring a horse you will also have to provide your own feed and hay.
Although most of the tall trees and forests were burnt during a massive fire at the park in 1989 there are still some great birding opportunities to be had at Fort Robinson State Park. There is a good pine habitat to be found throughout the park and the burnt areas attract many different woodpeckers. You may also find a nice nesting area for white-throated swifts around six miles west of the park office. Nearby Smiley Canyon is also a good birding site that can be accessed by the old road near the Pine Ridge escarpment just west of Fort Robinson State Park.