Nebraska National Forest at Halsey

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

A lone mountain biker pedals up the sandhills.

There are two distinct areas of the Nebraska National Forest. One section is situated in the northwest panhandle south and west of Chadron, while the other is located near Halsey in central Nebraska. Both offer unique recreation opportunities in the wide open spaces of Nebraska.

The Halsey portion of the Nebraska National Forest is managed by the Bessey Ranger District. This unique area encompassed by the Nebraska Sandhills. The Sandhills region is one of the largest contiguous and least-disturbed prairies in all of the United States. The Sandhills are home to a large complement of wildlife: birds, bugs, reptiles, and mammals

Sites to visit include the Bessey Nursery, Scott Lookout Tower, the Middle Loup River, the Dismal River OHV Trail, campgrounds for horses and OHV users, the beautiful Bessey Recreation Area, and acres of wide open spaces.

Bessey Ranger District - Scott Fire Lookout Tower A small RV camped next to a windmill during deer season. Bessey Ranger District - Picnic Bessey Ranger District - River Access Bessey Ranger District - Group Shelter

At a Glance

Operational Hours: Campgrounds are open year-round. Water is not available in winter months.
  • About half the sites at the Bessey Recreational Complex may be reserved at up to a year in advance.  
  • Natick and Whitetail Campgrounds are first-come, first-served all year.
Area Amenities: Interpretive Site,Accessible,Tent camping,Camping trailer,Fee charged for some activities,Picnic tables,Toilets,Drinking water,Parking
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Busiest Season: Weekends, May through November
  • Motorized travel restrictions apply. See the Motor Vehicle Map.
  • Certified noxious weed-free hay/feed is required on national forest lands.
Closest Towns: Halsey, NE; Thedford, NE
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Bessey Ranger District
40637 River Loop Rd
Halsey, NE 69142
(308) 533-2257

General Information


Parking in the main parking lot at the Bessey Recreation Complex costs $5.00 per day, or purchase an annual pass for $20 per year.

Parking at the Dismal and Powerline Trailheads is free.

Parking out in the forest is also free; however, vehicles must be parked within 30 feet of a road designated on the motor vehicle use map.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information



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Camping & Cabins

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Horse Riding & Camping

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Nature Viewing

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OHV Riding & Camping

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OHV Camping

Areas for OHV Camping at Nebraska National Forest at Halsey

OHV Open Area Riding

Areas for OHV Open Area Riding at Nebraska National Forest at Halsey

OHV Trail Riding

The district has approximately 36 miles of trails for vehicles measuring 64 inches wide or less.

Status: Open
Open Season: January-December
Fees: $5.00 parking fee in the main lot; annual pass for $20 / year
Reservation info: None required.
Usage: The trails are narrow, only accommodating a single ATV in most places.  Traffic goes both directions, so use caution around blind curves. 

Areas for OHV Trail Riding at Nebraska National Forest at Halsey

Outdoor Learning

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Water Activities

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Interpretive Site
Camping trailer
Picnic tables
Tent camping
Fee charged for some activities
Drinking water
Areas & Activities


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