Thursday, September 4, 2014

Know Nebraska: Ponca State Park

And now, for the biggest disappointment of our entire trip, Ponca State Park. I have visited Ponca before - at least the Missouri National Recreational River Resource and Education Center, which is at the park's headquarters. I was looking forward to being back in the area and exploring everything the park had to offer.

Unfortunately, when we arrived, just as at Willow Creek SRA, we found the information hut abandoned, with no map or brochure to show us where to go. We made our first big mistake in not heading to the headquarters building right away, but we had no idea what was waiting for us.
The first informational sign we encountered
A short way down from the entrance to the park, we found this sign. Not being familiar with the sign, we had no idea what the names of the campgrounds were, but this sign seemed to indicate that everything was to the left, and the road ahead must simply be some kind of service road. WRONG!

The road to the left took us on a steep and winding road that, when we reached the other end, had a sign indicating that RVs weren't allowed on it due to its steepness! Possibly a sign at the entrance would have been in order. Or at the least, a brochure rack with a map of the park. You can go HERE to find one we could have downloaded at home and taken with us.

After we found our campground, we were informed that we had to go all the way back to the administration building to register for the site as it was in the reserved section. This is when we found the alternate way to the camping area. It is 3.4 miles from the campground to the administration building and the areas of the park where all the "fun" things happen. It's all very steep and there are no connecting trails. There are trails, but they just loop around the various areas, not really offering an option of getting from one place to another.

The campground is also 1.2 miles from the nearest access to the Missouri River. This view was taken from the Riverside camping area, which was closed due to repairs made necessary by the recent floods. Even if it had been open, it offers only primitive camping.
 The camping areas were nice, though remote. The sites are beautifully shaded, not too crowded, and there is a playground and modern shower building.

 I'm not saying you should avoid Ponca State Park by any means, just be prepared when you come. A tow vehicle is a must, or at the least, you should be prepared to break camp and drive your RV back to the entrance, where all of the fun is.

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