- The nearly 1.1 million acres which represent a cross section of the northern Great Plains ecosystems are three National Grasslands, the Buffalo Gap, and Fort Pierre (pronounced "peer"), in South Dakota, and the Oglala, which along with two National Forests, the Nebraska and Samuel R. McKelvie, are in Nebraska.
The Nebraska National Forest contains a number of special attractions. Toadstool Geologic Park is noted for unusual geologic formations and scientifically valuable fossil deposits. About 10,000 years ago, over 600 bison died in an arroyo located on the Oglala National Grassland. It is the largest bison bonebed of its age in the Western Hemisphere. The site is located 19 miles northwest of Crawford. A new facility enclosing this world-class archeological site is open to the public during the summer months.
An encounter between the 5th U.S. Cavalry and a groups of Cheyenne Indians took place near Warbonnet Creek on July 17, 1876. The Cheyenne were attempting to join the victors of the Battle of the Little Bighorn three weeks earlier. The only fatality of that battle was the Cheyenne warrior, Yellow Hair, who was killed by Buffalo Bill Cody. The Warbonnet Monument, perched on a hill near Warbonnet Creek, recognizes the troops of the 5th U.S. Cavalry.
The 7,794-acre Soldier Creek Wilderness is a popular area for horseback riders with horse corrals and a fully accessible rider ramp. A well-developed trail system of about 15 miles in, and adjacent to, the Wilderness allows hikers and horseback riders a variety of loop trail choices. As in all Wildernesses, it is closed to mountain bikes and motorized vehicles.
Approximately 80 miles of marked trails make up the Pine Ridge Trail system. The easy to follow trails accommodate hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers. This trail system consists of several trailheads: East Ash, West Ash, Coffee Mill, Spotted Tail, Roberts and Outrider Trailheads.
A portion of the Pine Ridge Trail goes through the Pine Ridge National Recreation Area. This 6,600 acre area is designed to provide a primitive/semiprimitive recreational opportunity in a natural environment. This is a nonmotorized area. The primary access point is from Roberts Trailhead.
Recreation - Recreation opportunities on the Nebraska National Forest include camping, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and viewing geologic and archaeologic sites.
Climate - This portion of Nebraska is relatively arid and experiences distinct seasons. Summers are warm, with cool nights and frequent afternoon thunderstorms. These storms sometimes bring brief, heavy downpours. Winters can bring very cold temperatures and occasional snow. Clear, sunny days are frequent, even in the winter. Spring and fall are transitional months, bringing a combination of seasons.
The lands administered by the Nebraska National Forest are scattered across a large arc extending from central Nebraska west to the northern Panhandle, into southwestern South Dakota, and on east to the state's center. The actual Nebraska National Forest itself is located in the northwest corner of Nebraska, near Chadron and in the middle of the state, near Halsey.