Located about halfway between Lincoln
and Omaha on the main east-west
highway, Ashland Nebraska boasts a number of the state’s most popular tourist
attractions all within about five miles of town. The little town played
an important role in the history of the country and the state. It is located
on the Oxbow Trail, one of the branches of the Oregon Trail that stretched for
2,000 miles across Missouri,
Idaho, and Oregon
and was central to the great westward migrations of the mid 1800s. There are
many things to do in Ashland Nebraska all within close proximity to the largest
cities in the state.
Ashland Nebraska is set on Salt Creek, which for most of its length has a muddy
riverbed, making it a daunting barrier for wagon train crossings. But the town
is set on a limestone ridge along the river, and the rock river bottom here
became a safe and traditional fording spot. Even then, there were Ashland Nebraska
attractions enticing the thousands of pioneers in the hundreds of wagon trains
that passed through. Bison and other wildlife hunting and fishing in the rivers
supplied the pioneers with food. This habitat, on the edge of the Great Plains
and the eastern deciduous forests, provided diverse wildlife not found elsewhere
on the trail across the Midwest. Wagon trains would sometimes stop for months
to resupply for the remainder of the westward journey, and a thriving trading
post was established at the fording point. A village eventually formed, and
the population of the town boomed when the Union Pacific Railroad was completed
Today, several area state parks protect the remnants of this abundant native wildlife – especially the nearby Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari. This is one of the most popular Ashland Nebraska attractions and draws visitors from around the country, as well as serving as a weekend getaway for the residents of Omaha and Lincoln. One of the most respected zoos in the country (the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha) owns and operates this tourist attraction. You can drive through the park to view bison, antelope, deer, and pronghorn in their native prairie habitat, as well as endangered Sandhill cranes in wetland habitat. There are also hiking trails available to lovely Wolf Canyon.
Another of the things to do in Ashland Nebraska is to enjoy Nebraska vacations in Eugene T. Mahoney State Park. In addition to the traditional attractions of a state park, this one also boasts one of the state’s water parks. This is a nearly 700-acre state park along the Platte River. You can set off on hiking and horseback trails, set up a camping site, or climb the 70-foot observation tower for lovely views of the Platte River Valley. Winter things to do include cross-country skiing, ice skating, and ice fishing. There is a marina for boating and extensive athletic facilities. You’ll also find Ashland hotels here in the form of the Peter Kiewit Lodge with its 40 rooms as well as more than 50 fully-furnished rental cabins. This is one of the Ashland Nebraska attractions that lures visitors from all over the country.
Ashland Nebraska also is home to the Strategic Air and Space Museum with an impressive collection of military aircraft, strategic missile, and space vehicles displayed in 30,000 square feet of exhibition area. There are two other state parks nearby – the Platte River State Park and Schramm State Park. Also, one of the state’s finest lakes can be enjoyed at the Memphis Lake State Recreation Area. Additionally, other things to do in Ashland Nebraska include golfing on several nearby courses.