Nebraska’s Fort Robinson State Park is a former U.S. Army fort. It’s spread on a 22,000-acre public recreation and historic preservation area located just a couple miles west of Crawford on U.S. Route 20 in the Pine Ridge region of northwest Nebraska. Fort Robinson holds much history that you’ll just have to read about here.
In the summer of 2015, we went to Fort Robinson State Park and stayed at the Campground for five days. Our days seem like a blur because we literally jam-packed our days with tours, hiking, learning the history and the fate of Crazy Horse, jeep riding, motorcycle riding and everything in between! It’s hard to remember everything we did, but we’ll try.
We left Broken Bow, Nebraska, Dan pulling Liberty while I rode my Harley ahead of him through the Sand Hills of Nebraska to Fort Robinson. I arrived about a half hour ahead of him so I was able to get checked in and plan our parking.
I had to purchase the Park Permit when we checked in; $26 for our truck and $13.50 for each motorcycle. It was more cost effective to just get the annual permit vs. the daily permit of $5/day for each.
Once Dan arrived with Liberty (then it was our Cyclone Toyhauler), I led him to our campsite and we set up camp.
The weather was perfect almost every day. We never felt slighted in accomplishing our daily itineraries because the days were long.
We literally felt the history come alive here! Through the years, Fort Robinson was the site of the tragic Cheyenne Outbreak, our Nation’s largest quartermaster remount depot, a field artillery testing station, an Olympic equestrian training center, a military K-9 training station, and the last great gathering place of the Sioux Nation. We set out to view the beautiful grounds; meandering about the eleven historical buildings plus exhibits in the 1905 post headquarters.
Today, it boasts one of the best recreational areas in Nebraska.
About Fort Robinson’s history…
Fort Robinson State Park – Nebraska’s largest and most historic state park. It was an active military post from 1874 to 1948. Established as a post-Civil War Indian Agency protective post, Fort Robinson survived the Indian Wars to create a long heritage that is treasured today and will be for generations to come.
It was also a WWII POW camp. In the 1950’s, it served as a U.S.D.A. research station before becoming the jewel of the Nebraska State Park System in the heart of the rugged Pine Ridge near Crawford. The Park boasts management of 22,000 acres that blend history with natural beauty and offers exceptional outdoor recreational opportunities for every member of the family.
Because of our own son was a Cavalry Soldier in an U.S. Army Cavalry unit, we take great interest in how the U.S. Cavalry evolved through history. Our last evening before leaving, we self-toured the recreated 1874 Cavalry Barracks, scenes of the famous Cheyenne Outbreak and later, home to Buffalo Soldiers. We learned how the Buffalo Soldiers got their name.
We also walked the parade grounds and stood on the very ground where Crazy Horse’s life ended tragically.
This building below was the barracks that housed the Soldiers which now houses the small museum:
This room was the First Sergeant’s quarters:
On the third day, we bought tickets to ride in a horse-drawn wagon ride with a State Park historian guide who shared the history of the grounds. She told us about the Cheyenne Outbreak, Red Cloud Agency
and P.O.W. Camp, the 1887 Adobe Officer’s Quarters, the 1908 Veterinary Hospital which repaired horses, and the Quartermaster Supply Building.
Later that day, we also purchased tickets for an exhilarating Jeep Ride up to the top of the bluff that overlooked all of Fort Robinson State Park and beyond. This Jeep ride was bit harrowing at times but we were buckled in and trusted Him from above. Our driver/guide was very experienced, skillful yet had a great sense of humor. Our only regret was we were quite disappointed because we didn’t get to see any Big Horn Sheep or other wildlife.
Our last evening, we trucked up on our own to Smiley Canyon Scenic Drive and the Buffalo Pasture. Not many venture up this far. The State Park doesn’t really publicize it. Some of the best views were up there.
In a matter of minutes, the weather changed to a stormy sky, but that didn’t dampen our adventure. However, when the wind started blowing and sprinkles began, we decided to hightail it back to the campground.
Between historic, geological and geographic tours, we’d take off on the motorcycle to Crawford, Toadstool Geological Park
in Alliance, Nebraska and a sweet relaxing ride up to the South Dakota border.
So, we hope you enjoyed reading about this wonderful historic yet fun place we stayed at in western Nebraska. It’s perfect for families as well as solo travelers. There’s just so much to do and history to learn. This is just one more fallacy that Nebraska isn’t just a fly-over state.
Did you know you can camp or park your RV here too?
Other cool places in Western Nebraska that we visited…