Situated astride the picturesque Missouri River bluffs in northeastern Nebraska, Ponca State Park is the eastern gateway to the 59-mile section of the Missouri National Recreational River, one of two unchannelized stretches of the river bordering Nebraska
Ponca State Park features one of the state's most comprehensive outdoor/environmental education programs. Onsite staff and volunteers help guide and educate visitors on the history, biology, ecology, astronomy, geology and archeology of the area. Many how-to programs on outdoor recreation are also given, including fishing, backpacking, wilderness survival, cooking and others. During late spring, summer and early fall, programs are given daily for both adults and children.
With more than 20 miles of trails, the park provides hikers and mountain bikers many opportunities to explore the park's backcountry. Several mountain bike races are held every year making the Park's trail system noted for its diverse and often challenging trails.
In the summer, swimmers can cool off at the Park's swimming pool where lifeguards are on duty(As a general rule, the swimming pool does not open until the second Saturday of June and is open on weekends only from the middle of August until Labor Day). Experienced wranglers guide organized horseback rides through the scenic woodland bluffs and river overlooks. The Highland Oaks Public Golf Course is located on the southern boundary of the park. The challenging 9-hole course offers spectacular park vistas and a luxurious clubhouse. A boat ramp and 2 miles of river access offers boaters and anglers many opportunities to experience the Missouri National Recreational River. A canoe/kayak launch is located 6 miles upriver on Ponca State Park's North Addition offering a more adventurous outdoor experience. The park also has Youth Fishing Programs twice a week and a Fishing Tackle Loaner Program. Hayrack tours are available during the spring, summer and fall. Reservations are taken for groups of 15 or more. Haunted hayrack rides are given for two Saturday nights during the Park's annual Hallowfest - in October. Call the park office for specific dates and for when reservations for the hayrides can be made as space is limited. The park has an annual Mother's Day and Father's Day Buffet along with periodic cookouts on holiday weekends and special events. Call the park office for details. Buffalo burgers, Lewis and Clark Stew and fish fries are given in the summer and fall. Call the park for more details.
The Missouri National Recreational River Resource and Education Center houses the park office and new opportunities in education and recreation are being developed. This 17,000 sq. ft. facility has a large interpretive display/exhibit area, a field laboratory and conference rooms. Meeting rooms will accommodate groups up to 250 or can be subdivided for smaller gatherings. A fully-equipped kitchen is available for rent.
Campground Notes: Ponca State Park provides excellent camping. Paved electrical camp sites in two modern campgrounds with 30/50 amp electrical hookups. There are showers, picnic tables, fire pits, dump station, and playground. Modern facilities operate from April - October, weather permitting. Primitive camping is available year-round.
Cabin Notes: Ponca State Park has 14 modern, two-bedroom, air-conditioned housekeeping cabins. Each has two double beds, bedding, bathroom with shower, kitchenette and large screened porch. Kitchenettes are furnished with a range, refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, cooking utensils, dinette, dishes and tableware for six. Lodging is normally available from mid April through the mid-November, but dates are subject to change.
Services & Amenities:
- Admin Service, Copying/Faxing
- Archeological Sites
- Bath House
- Bird Watching
- Boat Ramp
- CAMPING, BACKCOUNTRY
- Campground Host
- Camping, Improved Site
- Camping, Primitive
- Comfort Station
- Dump Station
- Dump Station, Camper
- Emergency Services
- Fire Rings
- First Aid Supplies
- Fishing, PARK LAKE
- Fishing, River/Stream
- Group Camping
- Group/Community Facility
- HORSEBACK RIDING
- Hiking Difficult
- Hiking Moderate
- Hiking Trail
- Horse Rentals
- Information/Contact Station
- Interpretive Center
- Interpretive Display
- LIFEGUARDS (SEASONAL)
- Lodging Cabins
- Lodging, Group Facilities
- MEETING SPACE
- Mountain Biking
- Nature Center
- Nature Study
- Office/Ranger Station
- PROGRAMS, INSTRUCTIONAL
- PROGRAMS, NATURE
- Pay Telephone
- Picnic Area
- Picnic Pavilion
- Picnic Shelter
- Picnic Tables
- Retail, Store/Gift Shop
- Scenic Driving Routes
- Swimming - Pool
- Trails - Hiking/Walking, Easy
- Trails, Bicycle
- Trails, Difficult Hiking
- Trails, Horse
- Trails, Moderate Hiking
- Trails, Mountain Bike
- Water Access, River/Stream
- Water Drinking
- Wildflower Viewing
- Wildlife Viewing
|Greater Than 1 Mile|
- Fuel, Boats
- Fuel, Vehicles
- Grocery Store
- Retail, Drinks/Ice/Snack
- Retail, Seasonal Concessions
Alerts and Important InformationOffice Details
Ponca State Park Office Hours:
Memorial Weekend - Labor Day Hours are 8 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. Saturday - Thursday; 8 a.m. - 10 p.m. Friday; Labor Day - Mid November Hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily; End of November - April 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Satuday, 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Sunday.
Ponca State Park is along the Missouri River and Cabins 1-14 are available mid April through mid November. Ponca State Park 4 bedroom Mini Lodge cabins are available year round.Cabin Check-in is at 4 p.m. and check-out is at 11 a.m. Check-in prior to 4 o'clock is not allowed. If arriving after office hours, please make arrangements with park office for cabin check-in procedures.
When a reservation is made one year to the date in advance, no cancellation of that arrival date is allowed.
Swimming pool is open mid June through mid August. Please call park office for detail information regarding pool operating hours.
Camping (Tents & Campers) is prohibited in the cabin loop area of the park. Guests wishing to camp must use the designated camping area.
Getting There:2 miles North of Ponca, NE on Spur 26E. About 25 miles north/west of Sioux City, IA on the Missouri River.
From Omaha, we are about 2 hours. North on I-29 to just south of Sioux City. Take the Highway 20 West about 14 miles. Turn North (right) on Highway 12. It is 9 miles to Ponca from this point. Turn into the town of Ponca - there is a sign on each intersection and you will dead end into the park.
From Lincoln we are about 3 hours. Take Highway 77 North to South Sioux City. Go west on Highway 20 to Highway 12. It is 9 miles to Ponca. Turn into Ponca, there is a sign on each intersection and you will dead end into the park.
88090 Spur 26 E
Ponca NE 68770
Phone Number:Project Office:(402)755-2284
The events listed here are not intended to be an all inclusive list. Please contact the park for further details.
- Ring in the New Year with the winter woods and resident wildlife along the park trails. Participants check in at the Resource and Education Center. Hot cider and cookies, too! FREE on Jan 01 2013
- Grab your binoculars to observe our winter bird populations and monitor nesting sites in the area for the Annual GBBC. FREE from Feb 15 2013 to Feb 18 2013
- Designed as a weekend getaway for bird lovers, Marsh Madness will highlight the Park's richly abundant and inherently beautiful natural areas, the centerpiece of which will be the spring migration of waterfowl along the Missouri River. Interpretive programs, kid's programs, reservable guided observation waterfowl blinds and unguided Bald Eagle blinds are just a few of the weekend's highlights. Lodging rates 30% off and conference free to lodging guests. on Mar 02 2013
- Designed as a weekend getaway for bird lovers, Marsh Madness will highlight the Park's richly abundant and inherently beautiful natural areas, the centerpiece of which will be the spring migration of waterfowl along the Missouri River. Interpretive programs, kid's programs, reservable guided observation waterfowl blinds and unguided Bald Eagle blinds are just a few of the weekend's highlights. Lodging rates 30% off and conference free to lodging guests. on Mar 09 2013
- Designed as a weekend getaway for bird lovers, Marsh Madness will highlight the Park's richly abundant and inherently beautiful natural areas, the centerpiece of which will be the spring migration of waterfowl along the Missouri River. Interpretive programs, kid's programs, reservable guided observation waterfowl blinds and unguided Bald Eagle blinds are just a few of the weekend's highlights. Lodging rates 30% off and conference free to lodging guests. from Mar 16 2013 to Mar 17 2013
- Join us for environmental conservation activities for the whole family, including a River front clean up event. FREE on Apr 20 2013
- The 2nd Annual Outdoor Cooking Camp features hands-on instruction & demonstration on the aspects of outdoor cooking. Interactive classes include grilling, smoking, dehydrating, fish cleaning, jerky & sausage making, campfire cooking, Dutch Oven cooking and more. Participants will create Saturday's evening meal using new techniques and compete in a Sunday morning friendly breakfast challenge. Discounted lodging packages available. Camp is $50 per adult & $35 for kids 12 and under. Reservations requested. from May 04 2013 to May 05 2013
- Treat mom to a relaxing delectable buffet in a gorgeous lodge setting from 11:30a.m. - 1:00p.m. Reservations requested. on May 12 2013
- The public is invited to compete in the Ponca State Park 3D Shoot hosted by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and sponsored by Scheels. Lots of prizes & giveaways. Each round of shooting includes 25 targets. For more information contact the Scheels Archery Shop at (712) 252-1551. from Jun 01 2013 to Jun 02 2013
- Explore the archeology & insects of the region, featuring hands-on activities such as fossil digs, educational hikes, pond studies, special guests & more. FREE! from Jun 15 2013 to Jun 16 2013
- Treat Dad to a homemade fish dinner with all the fixin's, including Dutch oven cobbler dessert from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. Call ahead for menu. Reservations requested. on Jun 16 2013
- Treat your family to homemade Dutch oven cobbler and hand-cranked ice-cream at the Missouri National Recreational River Resource & Education Center at 7 p.m. Family fun games to follow. on Jul 06 2013
- The tour of Discovery camped along the Missouri River on this day over 200 years ago. Celebrate their history with Missouri River kayaking, Heritage Camp & special guests, interpretive museum showcase, period games, crafts, displays & more. FREE! on Aug 24 2013
- We offer guided trail rides for up to 12 per group during the summer season. The cost is $16.00 per rider and you must be 6 to ride. No doubles are allowed. Check with the Park office for times. Rides are weekends only after school starts in August. You may reserve a ride one day ahead by contacting the park office. on Sep 02 2013
- We offer a lifeguard manned outdoor pool daily during the summer season. Cost is $4.00 for adults and $3.00 for kids 3-12. Ages 2 and under are free. Hours are 1-5 Monday thru Friday and 1-6 Saturday and Sunday. Pool will be open weekends only after school starts in August. on Sep 02 2013
- Celebrate our outdoor heritage with over 80 hands-on exhibits, demonstrations, vendors and all-day entertainment. This fun and educational weekend for the whole family includes wildlife viewing, shooting sports, fishing, hunting, rock climbing, camping, hiking, boat tours and much more ! Daily 9 a.m - 5 p.m. FREE! from Sep 21 2013 to Sep 22 2013
- This 4th Annual event focuses on all things homemade and homegrown. Demonstrations include canning & preserving, fiber arts, quilting, home-style foods and more. FREE! on Oct 05 2013
- The 15th Annual Halloween celebration features haunted evening hayrack rides, a pumpkin rolling and carving contest, campsite decorating contest, autumn crafts and much more ! Hayrack reservations begin October 7th at 8 a.m. on Oct 12 2013
- The 15th Annual Halloween celebration features haunted evening hayrack rides, a pumpkin rolling and carving contest, campsite decorating contest, autumn crafts and much more ! Hayrack reservations begin October 7th at 8 a.m. on Oct 19 2013
- This event coincides with the Audubon Society National Christmas Bird Count. Birdwatchers of all ages are invited to compare notes and sighting reports. Chili feed at noon. FREE! on Dec 14 2013
- Rekindle family wintertime traditions with the quest for the Yule log, hidden within the park. Includes all-day activities such as the fruitcake fling, kindling hunt for kids, Yule Log Quest and bonfire, crafts, food & refreshments, lighted hayrack rides, evening entertainment & more. on Dec 28 2013