Oglala National Grassland
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  • Oglala National Grassland

    Located in the most northwestern corner of Nebraska you'll find the expansive landscape of the Oglala National Grassland of the Nebraska National Forest. This unique area consists of native mixed-grass prairie with forested streambeds and steep, worn, formations created by water and wind erosion on layers of siltstone and clay. 


    Find your way to the Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center bison bonebed where you can take a tour and learn about the ancient history of this area, walk through the unique features of Toadstool Geologic Park, reconnect with nature in the Soldier Creek Wilderness, or just spend some quiet time in the wide open spaces of the 94,000 acres of mixed grass prairies. Check out all of our Points of Interest!


    Kids, visit the Junior Archeologist page!

    Camping

    Toadstool Campground has 6 trailer accessible primitive campsites with picnic tables, 2 accessible vault toilets, and an interpretive kiosk that explains the park's unique geology. There is no water.


    The Soldier Creek campground has 5 designated campsites with picnic tables and fire rings. There is a hand pump well providing potable water, 3 vault toilets, garbage cans, and a large 15-paddock corral system.


    Backcountry or primitive camping is allowed anywhere on the National Forest and National Grasslands in Nebraska. Campfires are allowed unless restricted due to high fire danger. Please don't bring in wood that may be infested by the Emerald Ash Borer.

    Hunting and Fishing

    All areas are open for public hunting and fishing under state rules and regulations. Big Game archery and firearm opportunities include white-tailed and mule deer, antelope, and elk.

    Rules include but are not limited to:

    • No shooting within 150 yards of a developed recreation site
    • No shooting across roads
    • No shooting from inside vehicles
    • No use of explosive targets
    • Police brass after shooting
    • Close gates after passing through

     

    Visit outdoornebraska.gov for state rules and permits.

    Hiking

    The trailhead at Toadstool Geologic Park provides access to three hiking trails to choose from with varying degrees of difficulty: the 1-mile interpretive loop, the 3-mile (one-way) Bison Trail to Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center, and a 5-mile loop. Learn more about these trails here.


    Trailheads are located adjacent to the Soldier Creek campground area providing access to the wilderness. The Boots & Saddle Trail is 7.1 miles and the Trooper Trail Loop is 9.7 miles.

    Lodging, Dining, and More

    There are no restaurants, hotels, or convenience stores in Oglala National Grassland. Please visit the local Chamber of Commerce websites for information on where to stay, where to eat, and other attractions nearby.


    Crawford (~20 mi): www.crawfordnebraska.info

    Chadron (~45 mi): www.chadron.com

    Horse Riding

    The wide-open spaces of Oglala National Grassland are especially well suited for horseback travel. Please leave the numerous gates as you find them to assure that livestock grazing systems work as they are designed. Certified weed-free feed for recreational stock is required on the National Grassland. There is a large 15-paddock corral system at the Soldier Creek Wilderness campground.

    Wildlife Viewing

    Oglala National Grassland is the best place in Nebraska to view pronghorns and a popular place to view prairie dog colonies that live along the site’s northern border. You are likely to see red-tailed hawks, Swainson’s hawks, ferruginous hawks, and golden eagles. Swift foxes can be found here too, but they are rare and not very active during the day. The area is also a good site for coyotes and badgers. Grassland birds also reside here such as upland sandpipers, chestnut-collard longspurs, lark buntings, and Brewer’s blackbirds.


    The Soldier Creek Wilderness provides habitat for elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer, turkeys, coyotes, bobcats, eagles, hawks, the threatened Bald eagle, and numerous other wildlife.

    Wildflowers

    Oglala National Grassland provides seasonal wildflower viewing opportunities. Wildflower species encountered in the spring are Missouri milk vetch (Astragalus missouriensis), shell-leaf penstemon (Penstemon grandiflorus), gumbo lily (Oenothera caespitosa), and death camas (Zigadenus spp.). As spring moves into the summertime yellow evening primrose (Oenothera serrulata), ten petal blazing star (Mentzelia decapetala), slimflower scurfpea (Psoralidium tenuiflorum), and spiderwort (Tradescantia bracteata) dot the landscape. As autumn brings a close to the flowering year, goldenrods (Solidago spp.) and broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae) are commonly seen across the landscape.

    Outdoor Learning

    A visit to Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center is a visit to one of the most important paleo-archeological excavation sites in North America and a glance into ongoing scientific research.


    Toadstool Geologic Park is noted for unusual geologic formations and scientifically valuable fossil deposits; an interpretive kiosk at the campground explains and illustrates the area's geology. 


    The Warbonnet Battlefield Monument recognizes an encounter between the 5th U.S. Calvary and a group of Cheyenne Indians that took place near Warbonnet Creek on July 17, 1876 and provides a look into our nation's past.

    Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils

    Oglala National Grassland and the surrounding area are a virtual paradise for those interested in rocks, minerals, gemstones and fossils. Those who collect these treasures are often called rockhounds. Rockhounding is allowed anywhere on the National Grasslands, with some restrictions. Collecting on private land requires permission from the owner. If you discover a fossil on a national grassland or national forest, note its location and report it right away to the nearest Forest Service office.


    A permit is required for the collection of vertebrate paleontological specimens, including their trace fossils (tracks) on any federal lands. These permits are issued only for scientific research and educational purposes. For further information, contact us at 308-432-0300.


    Restrictions associated with rockhounding are as follows: collection of any objects for commercial purposes is prohibited; trading and bartering are considered commercial activities. USDA, Forest Service policy and guidance in 36 CFR 261.9 states "The following are prohibited: digging in, excavating, disturbing, injuring, destroying, or in any way damaging any prehistoric, historic or archeological objects."

    Shop

    Visit our non-profit partner Black Hills Parks & Forests Association’s website to browse the store, become a member, or make a donation to BHPFA at blackhillsparks.org. Visit BHPFA retail locations at Hudson-Meng Education and Visitor Center and the Forest Supervisor’s Office in Chadron.

    Directions

    Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center and Toadstool Geologic Park and Campground are only accessible by dirt roads. Be sure your car can make the trip before starting your journey.

    To Hudson-Meng:

    Address:

    1811 Meng Drive

    Crawford, NE 69339


    From Crawford, NE (20 miles):

    From the intersection of Highway 20, take Highway 2 north for 5 miles to Toadstool Road. Follow Toadstool Road and Sandcreek Road west about 15 miles. 


    Hot Springs, SD (75 miles):

    Take Highway 71 south about 60 miles to Toadstool Road. Follow Toadstool Road and Sandcreek Road west about 15 miles.


    To Toadstool:

    From Crawford, NE (19 miles): proceed to intersection of Highway 20 and Highway 2. Take Highway 2 north for 4.2 miles to Toadstool Road. Follow Toadstool Road for 11.4 miles to FS Road 902 and continue on Road 902 for 1.4 miles to Toadstool Campground.



    From Hot Springs, SD (49 miles): take Highway 71 south 37 miles to the intersection of Toadstool Road. Follow Toadstool Road for 11.4 miles to FS Road #902 and continue on road #902 for 1.4 miles to Toadstool Campground.

    Map of Oglala National Grassland and surrounding area. Click on a point of interest to learn more about it.