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Equestrian camping opens at Fort Robinson – KCSR/KBPY

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The new sites and horse pens at the Mare Barn Campground at Fort Robinson State Park are ready for use. The opening is scheduled for May 24. (Photo by Justin Haag, Nebraskaland/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission)

The $1.2 million expansion of Fort Robinson State Park’s Mare Barn Campground will open this week, cementing the northwest Nebraska attraction’s reputation as the state’s premier destination for people traveling with horses .

Donita Morava, park superintendent, said the 24 new sites and new horse pens on the west side of the park’s main complex will open May 24 if no problems arise as contractors complete electrical work.

The new sites, which have doubled the campground’s previous capacity, offer 50-amp electric, water and sewer connections. They are all paved and long enough for a truck and trailer. Three of the new locations are designed to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“We still need to add some trees and grow the grass, but the sites are ready for people to camp on,” she said.

Half of the campsites are available for reservation, while the other half are first come, first served. To reserve the sites, people can visit the “Make a Reservation” link on OutdoorNebraska.gov.

The 30 new pens near the site are expected to be popular with visitors wanting a place to stable horses during their stay. The 20-by-23-foot open-air lofts complement the historic Mare Barn Complex, which was renovated in 2020.

Morava said the pens have long been requested by visitors because some horses are not used to being indoors, especially in warm weather. This gives visitors a choice.

The Mare Barn offers stables in 20,000 square feet of space across a 1,000-foot-long C-shaped footprint. It originally housed the broodmares when Fort Robinson served as a remount depot for the U.S. Army from 1919 to 1945.

Four of the original 24 locations offer full hookups, while the rest offer electric service. A new shower house will be installed on the campsite in 2022.

Morava said Fort Robinson’s rich history with horses – both as a state park and its former role as a cavalry base – makes it an ideal attraction to meet the rising popularity of equestrian activities across the country.

“It will become more and more popular as time goes by,” she said. “People like to bring their horses to experience the open spaces of the Pine Ridge.”

The Mare Barn Campground is one of three campgrounds in the park. There are 98 sites with varying levels of amenities at the Soldier Creek Campground and 157 sites with full hookups at the Red Cloud Campground. Both are on the opposite side of the main park complex, east of US Highway 20.