This post is part of a series on The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip, our 10-month, 15,000-mile tour of the top pet friendly attraction in each of the lower 48 states.
It’s rare to find such a unique combination of stunning landscapes, fascinating history, ideal recreational opportunities, and pet friendly accommodations – but we found them all at Fort Robinson State Park in Nebraska! Spread over 22,000 acres, with rugged buttes as the backdrop, this is a place that invites your spirit can expand across the expansive wild prairies during the day and through the star-filled skies at night.
Fort Robinson was an active military post from 1874 to 1948, and much of this history as been preserved. The Fort’s soldiers were originally stationed here to provided security for the Red Cloud Indian Agency – an intermediary serving nearly 13,000 American Indians – where food and supplies promised by the US Government were distributed in exchange for land.
Thousands of Native Americans broken by war surrendered at Red Cloud, including the famed Lakota Chief, Crazy Horse, and his band. Crazy Horse was killed here in 1877, and shortly thereafter, the agency was moved but the fort remained. Troops took up duty guarding the nearby Sidney-Deadwood Trail, where supplies were being sent north to the Black Hills mining camps and millions of dollars in gold was flowing south.
When the railroad reached here in the mid-1880s, the Fort was expanded and the first African American soldiers from the Ninth US Calvary arrived. From 1887 to 1898, the Fort served as the regimental headquarters for the Ninth Calvary, and the importance of the horsemen in the Fort’s history is still evident. Many horse barns remain on the property, and the old veterinary hospital is now a museum.
The Fort was virtually abandoned during World War I, but gained new life in 1919 when it began providing horses and mules to military units – and that was just the beginning! During World War II, the Fort was at it’s busiest, providing horses and mules to the Army, housing a K-9 training center for 1,800 dogs, and acting as a POW camp for German prisoners.
After the war, the US Department of Agriculture took over the site as a beef research station, but by the mid-1950s efforts had begun to preserve the Fort as a historic site and recreational park. Fort Robinson was established as a state park in 1962, and now the resident Texas longhorn and bison herds roaming the prairie represent the park’s history in beef research.
Leashed pets are welcome throughout the grounds, on all the trails, in the campgrounds, and in many of the available lodging available for rent at Fort Robinson. Pets must be cleaned up after, and leashes must not be longer than six feet. Pets are not allowed where food is served, inside the museums, at the pool, or in the rooms at The Lodge.
Pet Rules at Fort Robinson State Park
- Pets must be on a leash no longer than six feet
- Pet waste must be cleaned up and disposed of properly
- Pets are welcome on all trails, throughout the grounds, and in the campgrounds
- Pets are not allowed inside the museums, pool, The Lodge, or where food is served
If you like the outdoors, there is no question that you’ll find plenty to do at Fort Robinson State Park. With 60 miles of hiking trails, 20 miles of biking and equestrian trails, golf, swimming, self-guided driving tours, fishing, tennis, an activity center, wildlife viewing, and picnic facilities – there is something for everyone! Kayak, tube, and mountain bike rentals, as well as horseback rides and Jeep or horse-drawn stagecoach tours are available in season (between Memorial Day and Labor Day).
We visited shortly after Labor Day, so most of the summer offerings had closed – but the park was quiet, and at times it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves!
Getting the boys out for a hike is always enjoyable, and there are options here to match every hiker’s abilities. The trails are well marked with white posts, and detailed maps are available in the park office. We chose the Mexican Canyon Trail, which is a two-lane dirt path, and provided a little challenge with Ty’s stroller. Some areas were pretty bumpy, and there were a couple steep climbs and descents, but we made it out and back and the scenery was worth the effort!
Picnicking is another of our favorite pastimes, and Carter P. Johnson Lake was the perfect spot. You can drive out or walk the Crazy Horse Trail from the Fort complex, and enjoy your lunch along the shore or on the dock. Keep an eye out for fish – the blue gills are quite friendly!
We were excited to discover that many of the old officers’ quarters at the Fort have been turned into lodgings available for rent – and they’re pet friendly! From small cabins that sleep six, to Comanche Hall that accommodates 60 people, you can come for a quiet getaway, or invite your whole family! And the pet fee for the cabins is a very reasonable $15 per stay.
The park also offers three camping areas: one with full hook-ups for RVs, one with only electrical hook-ups, and the last near the Mare Barn, convenient for those visiting with their horses. All sites are paved, and those traveling with horses will find stalls available for rent in the historic barns at $13 per day. The sunset view from our site was spectacular, and my only complaint was that, in addition to the camping fee, we were charged an additional $8 per day for out-of-state entrance tags for both our motorhome and towed vehicle. I voiced my opinion on the matter, and hope that the park reconsiders this policy.
Visiting these attractions with Ty and Buster is a dream come true. We’ll be blogging about each one as we go along, so fasten your seatbelt and stay tuned!
The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip wouldn’t be possible without the support of our wonderful sponsors: Winnebago, 2 Hounds Design, Alcott, goDog®, PetGuide.com, Red Roof Inns, Sleepypod, The Bark, PetHub, RVPetSafety.com, and The Honest Kitchen. Please be sure to visit their websites and social media pages and thank them for their participation!