Nebraska June 13, 2017
The Incredibly Unique Park That’s Right Here In Nebraska’s Own Backyard
We talk a lot about Nebraska’s incredible state parks, but some of our city and town parks are just as impressive. One in particular is exceptionally diverse and beautiful, and it’s located in a place you’d never expect to find it.
Pioneers Park is a large 668-acre nature preserve inside Lincoln city limits. There are several types of habitats to explore here, including tallgrass prairie, woodlands, and wetlands.
Several ponds and a stream hold all kinds of wonderful surprises for visitors. Plus, it's so relaxing to just watch and listen to the water on a hot summer day.
The park was dedicated in 1963, but its history stretches way back to the 1930s when the city began forming a small waterfowl refuge. The park was originally just 40 acres, but additional plots of land have been purchased and donated over the years.
Today, you can see a wide variety of wildlife roaming the grounds. There's a bison herd wandering the prairie.
You may also encounter elk, white-tailed deer, and several species of birds. Look carefully in the water and you just may see a little family of turtles sunning themselves!
In addition to the stunning natural beauty in this park, there are a few notable human-made additions that everyone should visit. This statue is known as The Smoke Signal; it was dedicated in 1935 and depicts Chief Red Cloud lifting his blanket to send a smoke signal.
The base of the statue says "Dedicated To The Nebraska Indian."
The big bronze buffalo statue is even older. It was created in 1930 and still looks as beautiful as ever.
Stand next to the statue and you'll have a straight-on view of the capitol building. It's an impressive sight, especially in the summer with vibrant green all around.
These columns are another instantly recognizable feature of the park. They were removed from the US Treasury Building in Washington D.C. in 1908. In 1916, they were gifted to the City of Lincoln. There are several other pieces of beautiful public art scattered around the park. Can you find them all?
Kids' activities are a big part of the park's mission. There's always something going on - workshops, classes, exhibits, or just good old fashion play time. A handful of buildings are also in the park, each catering to a different aspect of nature education.
There are eight miles of walking trails, several gardens, indoor and outdoor animal exhibits, and so much more to explore here. You can spend a whole day taking in the sights and still have more to see.
The park hosts thousands of schoolchildren each year for educational programs and nature hikes, in addition to its regular, non-school visitors. It's a popular place to walk and get close to nature, and it's not hard to see why. Have you ever seen such a beautiful and expansive park in a city?
Other little surprises are waiting for you throughout the park. This structure, for example, is a sledding ramp. In fact, it was named one of the best in the country! There's also an adjoining golf course and an amphitheater to really push the park into "destination" status.
You can find Pioneers Park at South Coddington and West Van Dorn Streets in Lincoln. It’s open 362 days a year; summer hours are Monday through Saturday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and Sundays from noon to 5 pm. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted.
What’s your favorite part of Pioneers Park? We’d love to see pictures from your adventures there! Tell us all about it in the comments.
There’s another park in Nebraska that’s in an unexpected place – in fact, you may not even know it’s there!
Read about it here.