Learning on the Road – Ogallala Nature Park

This series is all about finding free fantastic things when you are on vacation, or just traveling through. We happened to spend a few weeks in Ogallala, NE in 2017 and found some amazing FREE adventures! I have already posted about discovering Ash Hollow, now I want to share another treasure we found; the Ogallala Nature Park.

If you don’t like wild overgrown parks – this is not for you. But if you love foraging through old trails, overgrown arboretums, and seeing Nature at it’s finest, then keep reading! This adventure is definitely for you!

The Ogallala Nature Park is hard to find. It’s ironically right off the highway but you have to travel down a dirt feeder road for a bit to find it. The wooden sign at the start of the park says that it was part of the 1998 Green Space Stewardship Project.

It was an ambitious vision! As we entered, we discovered a wonderful wild arboretum. There were bat houses hung here and there, informational displays and even a small teaching circle defined by large boulders. The trees were marked with small plaques telling us what they were.

The grass was high and the path, while still well defined was ragged. To see the tree names, we had to look through tall weeds and grass which made the effort of discovery all the cooler. We really liked the Tatarian Maple and the Sunburst Honey Locust trees.

Sunburst Honey Locust
Tatarian Maple

We followed the path past the teaching circle and into a grove of local trees towards the river. It looked like a group had assembled the downed tree logs into a tee-pee of sorts. Of course, we had to check that out!

 

Once we got to the river, we were thrilled to discovered trees that had been felled by beavers! We looked around for a beaver den but didn’t see one and not wanting to disturb anything, we took a picture and left the area.So COOL! On the way back on the trail, we saw a Western Worm Snake – so distinctive with that bright red belly! We were super excited about that!

 

 

 

We spent an entire afternoon exploring the wonders in this park. Once we got back to the rig, we were able to look-up the trees we found and liked and learn more about them. We read about beavers and rivers. We looked up snakes and learned what it was that we saw on the trail. We saw so many things that occupied our interest for several days. This was better than any paid amusement! It was self-directed, interested, excited learning and that’s what learning is all about. This is just another reminder, no matter where you are, there are local sites of interest for you to find that don’t have to break the bank and are a lot of fun.

In closing, there was a notice posted to the wooden sign of the Ogallala Nature Park that indicated the locals realize what a treasure they have and are gathering together to clean up the park. It would be nice to know that more kids are going out there with a nature expert, are learning about the local flora and fauna and discovering all the beauty around them. In searching for news recently, it looks like the beavers are continuing to be busy and people are stopping by to visit. If you are in the neighborhood of Lake McConaughy, go check it out. I think you will like it.

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