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.
- Marsh Madness: 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 09 2012 to Mar 11 2012
- Marsh Madness: 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 2012 to Mar 18 2012
- Marsh Madness: 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 23 2012 to Mar 25 2012
- Outdoor Cooking Camp: This is a completely hands-on weekend cooking camp for all levels of outdoor cookers- newbies to experienced. Select your interactive classes and learn all aspects of outdoor cooking- from grilling, smoking, dehydrating, fish cleaning, jerky & sausage making, campfire cooking, Dutch Oven cooking and wild edibles. 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 from May 05 2012 to May 06 2012
- Mother's Day Buffet: Treat mom to a relaxing delectable buffet in a gorgeous lodge setting from 11:30a.m. - 1:00p.m. Reservations requested on May 13 2012
- Trail Rides: 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 from May 26 2012 to Sep 03 2012
- Scheels 3-D Archery Tournament: 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 02 2012 to Jun 03 2012
- Pool : 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 from Jun 09 2012 to Sep 03 2012
- Bugs & Bones Weekend: If the first thing that comes to mind is "ewwww", then we have just the programs for you! By the end of the weekend, we hope that you will come to like Nebraska's creepy crawlies and bone discoveries a little bit more. During this weekend's programs, we will highlight all the great aspects of these misunderstood creatures and the archeology of the region. We will offer games, crafts, and hikes from Jun 16 2012 to Jun 17 2012
- Father's Day Fried Chicken & Fish Fry: What dad wouldn't love a homemade fried chicken dinner & fish fry with all the fixin's? Join us from 11:30a.m.-1:00p.m. for our buffet featuring side dishes such as coleslaw, cornbread, fries, grits, and Dutch Oven Cobbler for dessert. Reservations requested on Jun 17 2012
- Summer Solstice Wine and Cheese Tasting: Join us during the twilight hours at the Towers in Time sculpture for a wine and cheese tasting celebrating the arrival of summer. Sample regional wines, cheeses, breads, and other artisanal offerings while listening to local musical talent under the lighted waterfall of the Towers in Time sculpture on Jun 23 2012
- Independence Day Dutch-Oven Cobbler & Ice Cream Social: Treat your family to homemade Dutch Oven Cobbler and hand-cranked ice-cream at our beautiful Tri-State Overlook. Enjoy old fashioned family games as well on Jul 04 2012
- Shooting Sports Skills Day Camp: This event is for those who wish to hone their shooting techniques. We will head out to practice shooting various firearms and bows in different setting. Perfect outing for scout, 4-H, and other youth groups. Registration required on Aug 11 2012
- Archery Sight-in Days: The park's archery range will have 3-D target setups that include big game, small game, the deer herd, and a just-for-fun range. Range open 10a.m.-4p.m. both days. FREE from Sep 08 2012 to Sep 09 2012
- 8th Annual Missouri River Outdoor Expo: The Expo is an annual event to give the public a chance to learn about wildlife-related & outdoor recreation activities, including wildlife viewing, fishing, hunting, archery, shooting sports, camping, off-highway vehicle recreation & boating recreation. Over 80 hands-on exhibits, demonstrations, and vendors make for a fun and educational weekend. FREE from Sep 15 2012 to Sep 16 2012
- 3rd Annual Homemade Living Day: Formerly known as Heritage Farm Weekend, this event focuses on "Passing on" many of the traditional skills and techniques of living from the land. Demonstrations include canning & preserving, bee keeping, organic & heirloom gardening, fiber arts, quilting, home-style foods, flour milling and more. Think homemade and homegrown- from earth to table- we're celebrating sustainable living. Horse drawn wagon rides and pioneer games too. FREE on Oct 06 2012
- Hallowfest : The Park's 14th annual Halloween and autumn event that features haunted evening hayrack rides, pumpkin rolling and carving contest, campsite decorating contest, and much more. Haunted hayrack ride reservations begin October 8th at 8a.m. by calling or visiting the park office. Ride prices are $7.00 for adults and $5.00 for kids on Oct 13 2012
- Hallowfest: The Park's 14th annual Halloween and autumn event that features haunted evening hayrack rides, pumpkin rolling and carving contest, campsite decorating contest, and much more. Haunted hayrack ride reservations begin October 8th at 8a.m. by calling or visiting the park office. Ride prices are $7.00 for adults and $5.00 for kids on Oct 20 2012
- Annual Christmas Bird Count : This event coincides with the Audubon's Society's national Christmas Bird Count. Amateur and expert birdwatchers are invited to attend this event that closes with a free chili feed to compare notes and sighting reports on Dec 14 2012