Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands
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.