Fort Robinson State Park and it’s two main campgrounds Soldier Creek and Red Cloud are located just west of the small town of Crawford, Nebraska on U.S. 20 and west of U.S. 385 in the extreme northwest corner of Nebraska.
The interactive map below shows everywhere we’ve camped overnight since we’ve been on the road. See if you can zero in on Fort Robinson. You can zoom the map in and out and move it about. When you click your mouse (or finger on a tablet) on any red balloon, the name and location of the park will be highlighted. Let me know if you find Fort Robinson! (you can click on “Accept All Cookies” to get rid of that annoying text box that covers part of the map.)
When we stayed (early October) the full hook-up campground (31 sites) at Red Cloud was closed for the season but the Soldier Creek campground has 80 electric only sites, clean pit toilets, and a shower house. Water hydrants and dumpsters are located on the main loop and there’s a dump station at the entrance/exit to the campground.
It’s about a 50/50 split of those sites that are reservable on ReserveAmerica and those that are held for walk-up only. I thought we were lucky to get a reservation a few days earlier given that we needed to stay on Friday and Saturday night. When we arrived about 3p.m. the campground was pretty empty, but they were still rolling in well after dark. By Sunday morning, about 80% of the campground was once again empty. The crowds there on Friday night and Saturday were local folks just trying to enjoy an end of season campout with family and friends. It was entertaining to see all the little kids playing soccer, football, or riding their bikes all around the campground — Kids just being kids .. it was great.
Here are pictures of some of the landscape surrounding the fort. The road (U.S. Route 20) is called the “Bridges to Buttes Highway” and the tall buttes adjacent to the park are impressive.
We took a short drive north of the parade ground up toward the Wilderness Camp area and found a small fishing lake. This is on the park grounds, so access is included in your daily entrance fee.
Many buildings still stand today and are used by the park as guest quarters. These include the main multi-story brick barracks that serves as the main guest reception and registration building and also has guest rooms and a full service restaurant.
Other buildings on the grounds include officers quarters, horse stables, commanders quarters, the post headquarters building, the veterinary hospital, and more. Unfortunately most of the buildings and tours were not open to visitors since we were there after the summer season.
Walking around the perimeter of the parade ground and seeing all the buildings … one can almost see the men walking to their assigned duties of the day or in drill on the parade ground.
The following text is taken from the back of the campground site map that they gave us when we checked in at the office.
“Fort Robinson was built in 1874 as a temporary encampment during the Indian Wars and used by the U.S. Army to beyond World War II.
One of the most tragic events in the life of Fort Robinson .. the Cheyenne Outbreak, occurred where the Soldier Creek Campground now sits.
Indians were being rounded up by the U.S. Army and forcibly sent to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. A band of Northern Cheyenne escaped and fled across the plains of Kansas and Nebraska, pursued by thousands of soldiers.
Captured by troops from Fort Robinson, the 149 men, women, and children, wo had survived the ordeal, were imprisoned in a log barracks.
Told they would have to return to Indian Territory in Oklahoma, their Chief Dull Knife said they would rather die here in their old hunting grounds.
The army attempted to starve them into submission, and on the bitter cold night of January 9, 1879, they tried to escape. With the few guns they had managed to hide, the braves opened fire on the guards.
As the women and children ran toward the White River, the men fought a running battle with the hastily awakened garrison. Many Cheyenne fell between the parade ground and the river, where the campground is located today. It was one of the last battles of the Indian War.”
You can learn more about the history of Fort Robinson by following this link.
All in all, it was a great place to camp. We couldn’t have asked for better weather … warm sunny dry days and cool evenings allowed us to leave the windows open and listen to the breeze rustle the leaves on the trees.
Everybody in the campground behaved themselves and the ability to walk the grounds was an added benefit. We only wish we were here before Labor Day so that we could take advantage of the open buildings and the tours.
Once again, thanks for riding along. We hope you’ll consider scrolling down the page here and leaving a comment.
Until we meet again, take care of each other.
Herb and Kathy