If you’re searching for an RV adventure in Missouri, then Ponca State Park is the place to stay. Ponca State Park offers its visitors impressive scenery, multi-seasonal recreational activities, educational programs, and access to miles of seemingly untouched, natural beauty.
Ponca State Park straddles the South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska state lines, and runs along a portion of the 59-mile section of the Missouri National Recreational River. The park is located just a few hours north of Omaha, Nebraska and South of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It’s open to visitors year-round but operates seasonally from April through October. Be aware that weather can impact or restrict seasonal activities and fully-operational RV camping facilities.
Park visitors have access to miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails. The park is well known for its springtime bird-watching, and its seasonal family activities and special events. Patrons of the park can kayak, boat, fish, golf, and picnic. From Memorial Day through mid-August, visitors can swim and participate in other family-fun activities at the aquatic center. If water sports aren’t for you, Ponca State Park also has a shooting complex. This state park is a place you can visit time and again!
RV Rentals in Ponca State Park
Transportation in Ponca State Park
Ponca State Park is located two miles north of the town of Ponca, Nebraska. In Ponca, signs posted at each intersection will guide you directly to the park’s entrance, a dead end. All vehicles are required to purchase a valid park entry permit. Permits are available at the park’s entrance station. If the service station isn’t staffed upon your arrival, you may use the self-service boxes to pay park fees.
Ponca State Park is big rig friendly, and signs are posted within the park to direct visitors to the campground and other various activity areas. Pick up a map at the entrance to help locate scenic viewpoints, points of interest, and wildlife viewing areas. The park map is easy to use and provides a legend to help visitors navigate their way around to the park's varied activity points. Hikers and backcountry campers will also appreciate the clearly-labeled map because the hiking trails, trail lengths, and trailheads, as well as the backcountry campsites, are simple to locate using the map as a guide.
Campgrounds and parking in Ponca State Park
Campsites in Ponca State Park
Oak Bluff Campground
Oak Bluff Campground (sites 37—73) allows campers to reserve their spaces up to one year in advance of their stay. Like the Turkey Ridge Campground, Oak Bluff provides both community water spigots and a nearby dump station as well as picnic tables, fire rings, and shower facilities.
Turkey Ridge Campground
Ponca State Park RV campground is split into two sides, Turkey Ridge and Oak Bluff. Both sides have facilities open for camping from April—October, weather permitting. Primitive camping is allowed outside of the April—October window. The pet-friendly campgrounds offer both standard and pull-through RV spaces with cement pads and electrical hookups. Pull-through spaces are limited. Each RV site varies in size from 45 to 60 feet depending on the space, and the electricity hookups range from 30 to 50 amps. Campers can stay up to 14 consecutive days within 30 days.
Turkey Ridge Campground (sites 1—36) is a first come-first served campground. Campers have access to community water spigots and a nearby dump station as well as picnic tables, fire rings, and restroom and shower facilities. This campground is located closest to the playground, and the Concession Trail Rides.
Seasonal activities in Ponca State Park
Bring your binoculars! The National Audubon Society lists Ponca State Park as one of its most important bird watching areas in the United States. If you visit the park during the early spring, peak migration season, (late April to early May), you can see and hear some of the most beautiful species of birds in the United States. Guided bird tours are offered during peak migration for people who want to learn about the different bird species migrating through the area.
Outdoor and Educational Environmental Programs
Ponca State Park has one of the most comprehensive outdoor and recreational education programs in the state. On-site staff and volunteers create hands-on and informational programs for visitors of varying ages and abilities. The programs, such as conservation topics, outdoors skills, and cultural and natural history are always changing, and they are offered daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day and then on weekends only during the spring, fall, and winter seasons. Come ready to learn!
The Missouri National Recreational River is the perfect place for water lovers to experience fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and floating. Ponca State Park visitors can launch boats from two boat ramps, as well as have access to nearly three miles of the riverfront. The park offers weekly youth fishing programs and has a tackle loaner program for those wanting to try to catch catfish, walleye, and other river species. Information is available on site for those who have questions about fishing and boating.
Cross-Country Skiing, Sledding, and Ice Fishing
When there is ample snow on the ground the activities at the park turn chilly. People who enjoy cross-country skiing can ski on groomed trails and take in the beauty the park has to offer in the winter. The park also has a sledding hill where people of all ages can take a turn cruising down the snow-covered slope. If skiing and sledding aren't your things, and you are waiting for the fishing season to begin, don't worry, there is an activity for you: ice fishing. Because these activities are weather and staff dependent, always contact the park for the most up to date information.
Each month, the park offers special interest events created with people of all ages in mind. Check the park’s calendar to find activities that will entertain your whole family. Some events include The Missouri River Outdoor Expo, the annual Hallowfest celebration, holiday-centered activities like craft fairs and yule log quests, and special bird-related activities and events. Every January, the park hosts a Women’s Wellness Weekend Retreat and women from all over come to experience a relaxing weekend created to rejuvenate and inspire women. In Ponca State Park, there is something for everyone to experience.
The Eric Wiebe Shooting Complex
Just because the weather is chilly, it doesn't mean you can't have the opportunity to try new things! The Eric Wiebe Shooting Complex is an all-weather range. People interested in shooting and throwing type activities can try archery, throwing tomahawks, firing slingshots, and shooting .22 rifles or shotguns. If you own archery equipment, you can use it at the 3-D archery range. Contact the park to learn more about the complex's rules and regulations.