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Nebraska, Samuel R. McKelvie National Forests

The Nebraska National Forest is located in Nebraska and South Dakota. This Forest is comprised of two National Forests, and three National Grasslands. The area is an unusual combination of forests and prairie grasslands.

The Nebraska National Forest consists of the Buffalo Gap, Fort Pierre and Oglala National Grasslands and the Nebraska and Samuel R. McKelvie National Forests.

The Nebraska National Forest began in 1902 as an experiment to produce trees and plant them in what is now the largest human-made forest in the United States.

The Soldier Creek Wilderness is located in the Nebraska National Forest. A well-developed trail system of 15 miles in and adjacent to the Soldier Creek Wilderness allows hikers and horseback riders a variety of loop trail choices.

The Fort Pierre National Grassland gets the most rainfall of all the grasslands, eighteen inches per year on average. The Buffalo Gap National Grassland is home to over 300 black-footed ferrets, the most endangered mammal in North America.

The Fort Pierre National Grassland in central South Dakota and the Bessey Ranger District in central Nebraska support populations of greater prairie chicken and sharp-tailed grouse. Other prairie wildlife species include: pronghorn antelope and black tailed prairie dogs. The country’s most endangered mammal, the black-footed ferret, has been reintroduced into its native habitat on the Buffalo Gap National Grassland.

Blowout penstemon (Penstemon haydenii), the rarest plant species native to the Great Plains, grows only in the Nebraska Sandhills and is the only endangered plant in the state.

Each of the National Forests and Grasslands offer a number of recreation activities, including: camping, hiking, fishing, off-roading, mountain biking, horseback riding, backpacking, and wildlife watching. For specifc activities, visit one of the following links: Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest; Nebraska National Forest (Pine Ridge Ranger District and Bessey Ranger District);Buffalo Gap National Grassland; Fort Pierre National Grasslands.

Nebraska Forests

South Dakota Forests

First-timer’s Adventure

Visit the National Grasslands Visitor Center in Wall, South Dakota. Of all the groups of plants on earth, grasses are the most important to people. This fact, along with the unusual history of the Forest Service’s twenty National Grasslands, makes the National Grasslands Visitor Center one of a kind.

The Center is part of the Buffalo Gap National Grassland - Wall Ranger District. The world famous Wall Drug is just two blocks away.

Statistics

State(s):

Nebraska, South Dakota

Nearest Large Urban Area:

Rapid City

Notes & Conditions:

Research campground locations and amenities at the U.S. National Forest Campground Directory. The Web site is full of pictures and detailed descriptions to help you plan your next trip.

If you want to experience a guided recreation trip in a National Forest, visit Adventure Vacation to learn about whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, camping, hiking and fishing trips.

Maps:

Visit the National Forest Store to see what maps are available for this Forest and others you may want to visit.