Special Places


Pack string in Soldier Creek WildernessOne of our nation's greatest treasures is the National Wilderness Preservation System established by the Wilderness Act of 1964. Wildernesses are lands designated by Congress to be protected and preserved in their natural condition, without permanent improvements or habitation.

Soldier Creek Wilderness was created by an act of Congress in 1986 and is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. It covers an area of 7,794 acres (31.54 km²) within the Pine Ridge section of the Nebraska National Forest.

National Grasslands Visitor Center

National Grassland Visitor Center officeThis is the only Visitor Center for the nation’s 21 National Grasslands. Stop by to experience a 25-minute film, Junior Ranger program, gift shop, and special ranger-led events and activities. Explore the fantastic outdoor Living Landscape areas. Find out more about hours of operation, location, activities, and services provided at the National Grasslands Visitor Center.

Bessey Nursery

Charles R. Bessey NurseryThe Bessey Ranger District is well known for being the nation’s largest hand-planted forest.  It started as an experiment in 1902 by Charles E. Bessey to investigate the feasibility of creating a forest in the Great Plains to be used as a national timber reserve. The original plantations were composed of Ponderosa Pine, Jack Pine and Eastern Red Cedar. Learn more about Bessey Nursery

Hudson-Meng Education and Research Visitor Center will be closed until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This shows the building, which has an arched roof, on a sunny day.A visit to Hudson-Meng Bison Education & Research Visitor Center is a visit to a modern archeological excavation in progress and an key partner of the Fossil Freeway. Interpretive exhibits and guided tours help you to understand why this is such an important discovery, and encourage you to develop your own theories about what happened to the bison. The site is located in the shadow of Nebraska's picturesque Pine Ridge, overlooking the Oglala and Buffalo Gap National Grasslands and north to the Black Hills of South Dakota. And it's only a few miles to the moonscape of Toadstool Geologic Park. * Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center is transitioning to a new reservation system on Recreation.gov in late January 2020. If you have any questions about the reservation system or want additional information, please contact Hudson-Meng center manager, Ryan Means, at 308-221-4162 or ryan.t.means@usda.gov

Recreation Areas