15 Best Things to Do in Chadron, NE

Chadron, NE
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What are the best things about Chadron, Nebraska?

Some include a rich fur-trading history, great outdoor attractions and recreational areas, spacious farmlands, and an overall unique vibe.

Once a well-known fur trading post in the American West, Chadron is now a lovely city in the Pine Ridge region of Nebraska.

It is also the seat of Dawes County.

Chadron has many beautiful things to offer tourists and locals alike.

From showcasing its rich fur-trading history to outdoor recreational areas and attractions, Chadron is an excellent place for much-needed vacation.

If you want to discover this beautiful city, here are the best things to do in Chadron, Nebraska:

Explore Chadron State Park

The grounds of Chadron State Park
dvs from Vermont, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Apart from its history and art scene, Chadron offers a great outdoor experience with several parks and recreation centers.

However, none are as iconic to the city as the Chadron State Park.

Founded in 1921, the 972-acre Chadron State Park is Nebraska's oldest state park and a great place to enjoy the beauty of nature.

Despite its age, it's one of the most modern parks with several facilities and amenities.

Big horn sheep at Chadron State Park
bradley pietzyk / Shutterstock.com

The area is perfect for hiking, horseback riding, camping, and picnicking.

Other amenities include a swimming pool, volleyball courts, a souvenir shop, a craft center, and a snack bar.

The natural beauty of Pine Ridge forms the very backdrop of the state park, making it a gorgeous place to enjoy the great outdoors.

If you're looking to get away from the city and explore Chadron's natural side, set aside a day or two for a trip to the Chadron State Park.

Visit the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center

Mari Sandoz was a famous author whose works about pioneer life and Plains Indians have shaped people's perspectives on the American West.

The Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center is a museum that celebrates her life and work.

It also features the Nebraska Panhandle region where she grew up.

Many of her fictional works take place in the High Plains area, and the museum does a great job of bringing them to life.

In addition, various exhibits focus on specific aspects of her life, such as her writing process and the people she wrote about.

The mission and vision of the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center are analyzing and preserving the historical and literary works of the great late novelist,

Likewise, the museum strives to honor the land and people which she often wrote about.

For example, these people include ranchers, farmers, Native Americans, and the residents in the High Plains County.

Whether you're a fan of Mari Sandoz or want to learn more about the history of the American West, start your Chadron trip in this museum.

Appreciate Local Art at the Chadron Arts Center

Continuing the theme of history, art, and culture, the Chadron Arts Center showcases and supports the arts in the Chadron community.

Founded in 1990, this art center aims to help the community connect and understand each other through art.

The center features various art forms such as paintings, sculptures, pottery, photography, and more.

They also have a performing arts series that features multiple talents, such as musicians, dancers, and comedians.

The Chadron Arts Center is a place for nurturing, exhibiting, and promoting the artistic scene in the city.

At the same time, the site also serves as a venue for community events that bring the people of Chadron together.

If you want to appreciate local art or a good time, check out the Chadron Arts Center.

See the Latest Blockbusters in the Classic Eagle Theatre

The Eagle Theatre is one of the state's oldest theatres, dating back to 1925.

Originally named the Pace theater, its owners renamed it the Eagle Theatre in 1967.

The theatre boasts beautiful architecture and interior design.

It's also quite massive, with over 700 seats!

It has undergone several renovations and changes over the years but has retained its classic charm.

Today, it's a famous movie theatre that regularly screens new releases.

The Eagle Theatre also features a concession stand with all your favorite movie snacks.

The theatre also screens classic and current movies, making it a great place to catch up on the latest releases.

If you're looking for a classic movie theatre experience with a modern twist, visit the Eagle Theatre.

Learn about Chadron's Rich Fur-trading Heritage at the Museum of the Fur Trade

Traps displayed in Museum of the Fur Trade
Napa, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The fur trade was a big part of Chadron's history and development.

There's no better place to learn about it than the Museum of the Fur Trade.

This museum preserves the history of the fur trade and its impact on the American West.

They have an extensive collection of artifacts, documents, and artwork that tell the fur trade story.

The museum also depicts the history of the American Fur Company in 1837.

Likewise, the National Register of Historic Places added the museum to its record.

Hats exhibit in Museum of the Fur Trade
Napa, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

All the items in this museum are original items dating back to the early days of the fur trade.

There's even a point blanket that dates back to 1775!

Check out the Museum of the Fur Trade to learn about this vital part of American history and Chadron's development.

Look at Historic Rocks at the Eleanor Barbour Cook Museum of Geology

If you're into Geology or interested in various rocks, visit the Eleanor Barbour Cook Museum of Geology on the Chadron State College campus.

Located on the Chadron State College campus, the museum gets its name from one of the first female geologists in the United States.

It contains an extensive collection of rocks, minerals, and fossils.

The museum is also home to several unique rocks, including petrified wood over a million years old!

Various fossils are also on display, including a trilobite discovered in Chadron.

The museum also offers a variety of educational programs and activities for kids and adults.

If you want to learn more about geology or see remarkable rocks, bring your family to the Eleanor Barbour Cook Museum of Geology.

Walk Your Pet at the Chadron Dog Park

Check out the Chadron Dog Park if you want to bring your dog for a walk or see people walking theirs.

The park is a great place to take your dog for a walk, and it's also a beautiful spot to relax and people-watch.

The dog park is west of Chadron State College and adjacent to the community garden.

This dog park is unique because it's an "off-leash" park, which means your dog can run and play without a leash.

However, ensure your dog is on their best behavior before letting them off the leash, as there are other people and pets in the park.

Speaking of people, this park is also the perfect place to meet locals and chat with dog lovers.

Chadron has a thriving community of dog owners who usually walk their pets at this dog park.

If you're looking for a place to socialize, walk your dog, or enjoy the outdoors, bring your pets to Chadron Dog Park.

Go Swimming at the Chadron Area Aquatics & Wellness Center

The Chadron Area, Aquatics & Wellness Center is great for a dip, especially during the hotter months.

This state-of-the-art indoor swimming pool features a massive swimming pool with a water slide and diving board.

Water fitness classes, swimming lessons, and open swim times open throughout the year.

The Chadron Area Aquatics & Wellness Center also features a lap pool, therapy pool, changing rooms, lockers, and shower facilities for both men and women.

The center also has something for the kids in the form of children's slides, splash pads, and dump buckets.

Whether you're learning how to swim or looking for a fun time with family, the Aquatics & Wellness Center has everything you need.

Visit the Dawes County Historical Museum

As the country seat of Dawes County, Chadron is where you can find everything you need to know about its history.

The Dawes County Historical Museum is a massive 9,000-square-foot museum with two huge exhibits depicting the county's rich history.

The first exhibit focuses on the Ranching Era, featuring a replica of a turn-of-the-century ranch house, a blacksmith shop, and a chuckwagon.

The second exhibit covers the Fur Trade Era, containing a replica of a fur trading post, plus various tools and artifacts from early fur traders.

Likewise, the museum contains a log house and barn, a pioneer house, and a 1980s schoolhouse.

You can also find a caboose symbolizing the railroad industry that put Chadron on the map.

Spend the day at the Dawes County Historical Museum!

Check Out the Bordeaux Trading Post

Exterior of the Bordeaux Trading Post
Napa, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Bordeaux Trading Post is easily the most iconic landmark in Chadron.

In 1845, James Bordeaux established a fur trading post on this site.

To commemorate this important part of Chadron's history, the city restored and reconstructed the trading post faithfully and turned it into a museum.

Today, the Bordeaux Trading Post Museum is an archaeological site and one of Chadron's most popular tourist attractions.

The museum not only showcases the history of the fur trade era but also contains artifacts and exhibits that depict the life of early settlers in the area.

Complete your Chadron escapade by visiting the iconic Bordeaux Trading Post.

Play the Best Golfers in Chadron at the Ridgeview Country Club

The Ridgeview Country Club is where the top golfers in Chadron come to play.

If you're an avid golfer, pay a visit to this country club.

This 18-hole golf course is one of the best in the area and one of the finest courses in Nebraska.

The course features a clubhouse where you can enjoy a meal or drink after your game.

If you like watching live golf, you can do so at the onsite bar and grill overlooking the golf course.

They also serve some great food and drinks so you can fuel up while you watch the best golfers in Chadron.

Play Bowling at Hilltop Lanes

Hilltop Lanes is the premier bowling alley in Chadron.

It features 12 lanes of bowling action.

This is the perfect spot to enjoy family-friendly fun or have a night out with your friends.

They also have several league options for those looking for some competitive fun.

Likewise, you can play other pub games like pool, arcade games, pinball machines, Keno, and machines.

There's also an onsite diner that serves lunch and dinner meals.

Catch up with your friends and talk about sports at the full-size bar.

If you're looking for a great place to chill and have fun, bring your friends to Hilltop Lanes.

Embrace Nature at the Nebraska National Forest at Chadron

The Nebraska National Forest at Chadron is one of the best places to commune with nature.

This forest offers a variety of activities for everyone to enjoy.

The forest is home to hiking trails, camping grounds, and fishing spots.

You can also go mountain biking and picnicking.

There's also a 17-mile trail system that's perfect for hikers and horseback riders.

You can rent several cabins if you want to stay in the forest overnight.

If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, head to the Nebraska National Forest at Chadron.

Spend Time at the Pine Ridge National Recreation Area

Scenic view of Pine Ridge National Recreation Area
Spencer, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

The Pine Ridge National Recreation Area is a must-visit destination in Chadron.

This recreation area offers a myriad of outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy.

Established in 1986, this 6,600-acre recreational area provides backcountry recreational opportunities in a unique scenic setting.

The recreation area features hiking trails, camping grounds, fishing spots, and other outdoor activities.

There's also horseback riding, nature study, hunting, and cross-country skiing during the winter.

If you want to commune with nature and have fun, go to the Pine Ridge National Recreation Area.

Go Hunting at the Rocking Heart Elk Ranch

The Rocking Heart Elk Ranch is Chadron's premier hunting destination.

It's a great place to go deer and elk hunting.

The place has everything you need for a memorable hunting experience.

Explore the vast hunting grounds and play an abundance of games.

Then, head to a gun shop to rent or purchase firearms.

The Ranch also offers other outdoor activities such as horseback riding, hiking, and bird watching.

They also have a lodge where you can stay during your hunting trip.

The club has all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay, including a lounge area, a restaurant, and a bar.

If you're looking for an exciting hunting adventure, pack your bags and go to the Rocking Heart Elk Ranch.

Final Thoughts

Chadron has no shortage of things to do.

From exploring its rich history to enjoying the great outdoors, there's something for everyone in this Nebraska city.

Don't forget to add the best things to do in Chadron, Nebraska, to your itinerary!