Wildlife Safari Park & Hiking in Nebraska
Each spring our family travels to Omaha, Nebraska for a 1-2 day extravaganza visiting our favorite attractions and eating at our favorite restaurants. After a little research, I came across Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park aka Wildlife Safari Park, and Mahoney State Park in Ashland, Nebraska. The Ashland area is the perfect place for families to visit for a long weekend in the Midwest.
Wildlife Safari Park
The Wildlife Safari Park is a part of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and is a fun adventure for the whole family.
As you enter the park you will see miles of rolling hills, trees, and green. It is gorgeous! The road is long and windy. Drive slow! You do not want to run into any wildlife. From beginning to end it takes approximately 60 to 90 minutes. This is definitely dependent on how much you stop and how crowded it is.
We first animal we came across was the Elk, then we saw three deer eating breakfast right outside our car. It was so neat to see them so close! You can roll down your windows, but you must stay in your car. As you wind through the safari park you will enter several areas where different animals are kept.
There are also a lot of opportunities to get out and explore including a hiking trail to the Grey Wolves and American Black Bears. The short hike is steep, but very shady so you will not get too hot. At the base of where you begin your hike to visit the wolves and bears, you will find a snack shack area and a place to pet and play with goats. This area is called the Hands-On Coral located in Wolf Canyon.
The Sandhill Cranes are also a fun animal to drive by and watch. You will more than likely find a crane crossing the road while you drive through.
You can also take a short walk to the Eagle Aviary from Wolf Canyon. This is a half-acre exhibit and super cool to see up close and in person!
They have a fun nature playscape with a fun small playground where you can overlook the Bison Plains. This is a great place where a lot of people will get out to stretch their legs and watch the bison roam.
Before you leave the park, make sure you stop at the visitor center where you can find some fun souvenirs and Prairie Dog Town.
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Make sure you get there early! We visited on an overcast, chilly Sunday and arrived at 11 a.m. with no wait. When we left the park a little after Noon there was a line out the park.
$9 Adults (12 and over)
$7 Children (3-11)
$8 Seniors (65 and over)
FREE Children 2 and under
If you are an Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo member you receive free admission. There is no discount if you hold a Blank Park Zoo membership. They do offer a Wildlife Safari Park Membership, so if you are planning several visits this may be a great investment.
16406 N. 292nd St, Ashland, Nebraska
Eugene T. Mahoney State Park
When I plan trips like this, I always love to research what else we can experience that is in the area. A friend of mine told me about Eugene T. Mahoney State Park which is literally just next door to the safari. Boy oh boy does this state park offer so much!
After we entered the park we looked for a hiking trail, parked, and ate the picnic lunch we brought along. The hiking trail was a little tricky to find, but we found it and it was so much fun! We parked and entered the trail near the Prairie Wolf Cabins.
The entire trail followed along the Platte River. In areas, you could see beautiful views of the Platte River. The entire path was filled with large trees, steps, bridges, and more. The kids had a ton of fun climbing around and exploring.
After our hike, we decided to drive through the rest of the park and saw many people fishing in the two lakes within the park. This state park also offers a Go Ape Ropes Course, swimming, golf, arts and crafts center, a theater, horse trail rides, camping, cabins and so much more. This would be the perfect place to stay for a long weekend!
28500 West Park Highway, Ashland, NE 68003
The Surfside Club
The Surfside Club located in Omaha, Nebraska is one restaurant that I have visited tons since I was little. If you love catfish, chicken, fritters, and the Missouri River this is the place to be. The Surfside Club is located right along the Missouri River and the majority of its seating is outside. In the Summer they offer live music, a jump house for kids, and more. It is a really fun place to be! On our way back to Des Moines, we made a stop for an early dinner.
Tuesday – Friday: 5 to 9 p.m.
Saturday: 3 to 10 p.m.
Sunday: Noon to 9 p.m.
14445 North River Drive, Omaha, NE 68112
Our little day venture to Ashland, Nebraska was a perfect getaway to explore while everything that is going on in our world. This road trip provided us so much joy and I cannot wait to visit again and explore even more in the future.