Nebraska National Forest

Quick Facts

Nebraska National Forest


(308) 432-0300


Things To Do


The Nebraska National Forest is located in central Nebraska and is 142,000 acres in size. The forest comprises two ranger districts, the 90,000-acre Bessey Ranger District and the 52,000 acre Pine Ridge Ranger District.

The Bessey district is located in the Sandhills of central Nebraska. It was established in 1902 by Charles E. Bessey as an experiment to see if forests could be created in treeless areas of the Great Plains for use as a national timber reserve. This effort resulted in a 20,000 acre forest, the largest human-planted forest in the United States. Today, the forest's nursery supplies 2.5 to 3 million seedlings per year.

The Pine Ridge district is located in the Pine Ridge region of northwest Nebraska. The native ponderosa forests were added to the National Forest system in the 1950s. The Soldier Creek Wilderness, a federally designated wilderness area, is located in the forest.

Nebraska National Forest was established on November 15, 1907 by the consolidation of three smaller forests: Dismal River, Niobrara and North Platte National Forests.

Map of Nebraska Forest

Latitude, Longitude: 42.296920, -101.916200



  • Bicycling

    The Prairie Path Bike Trail is an unimproved surface trail. The trail's rough surface and length give it a moderate difficulty rating but is overall relatively flat. Features of note are the near by badland formations and prairie dogs. Seasonal features are flowers and birds, in particular burrowing owls. The missile silo portion of the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is located along the path. Part of the trail, the North Loop, is periodically mowed when vegetation can catch in bicycle pedals. Tire sealant or tube protection is recommended for tires. There are 31 posts which make the trail easy to follow. The 5 foot tall round posts have markers that note use and direction. There are three gates. Allow 1 hour for riding time.

  • Camping

    The Bessey Family Campground offers peaceful campsites to those with tents to those with RVs.

  • Hiking

    Visitors are welcome to hike anywhere in these wide open areas.

  • Hunting

    These lands are ripe with game. Please check with authorities for rules and regulations before hunting, though.

Phone Numbers


(308) 432-0300