Nebraska National Forest
Bessey Ranger District
(308) 533-2257 www.fs.fed.us/r2/nebraska
Located 1 mile west of Halsey. Take State Spur 86B off of NE Hwy 2 and drive south across the Middle Loup River. The forest office is located just to the left (east) of the entrance to the forest after you cross the river.
The forest consists of more than 90,000 acres with about 22,000 acres of hand-planted trees in the scenic Sandhills. This is the only "Hand-Planted" forest in the World. It's also home to the oldest Federal tree nursery that's been developed into a source for conservation tree seedlings. Ranchers and farmers across the country use the seedlings to establish windbreaks and wildlife planting as well as a source to re-forest National Forests in the Rocky Mountain Region.
This is a wonderful place for relaxation, sightseeing, bird and wildlife watching, hunting, fishing and photography. You can bike, ride horseback (bring your own horse), and there is an 11-mile Dismal River ATV/horseback/hiking trail. Scott Tower, just 3 miles south of the Bessey Recreation Complex on State Spur 86B, is the only active fire tower in Nebraska and is open for tours upon request. It is scheduled to be refurbished in 2009. The swimming pool at the Bessey Recreation Complex is open every day but Wednesday, through most of the summer, (until mid-August). There are also volleyball and horseshoe pits, a game field and 37 campsites with and without electricity and an RV dump station. There is a shower house with flush toilets, as well. Two thirds of these campsites can be reserved through the reservation system. There are two other campgrounds on the forest: Natick Campground with seven sites and Whitetail Campground with 10 sites. These campgrounds offer a more primitive camping experience with no running water or showers and no electrical hook-ups. There are corrals at each of these campgrounds for horseback riding enthusiasts. Whitetail Campground is at the southern end of the ATV/horseback/hiking trail.
Stop by the Forest office or call 308-533-2257 for more information and maps. Detailed maps are available and recommended for backcountry travel. Fees are collected for day use and camping. Call for current fees. Camp sites are also available. West of the main office a couple miles in the Nebraska State 4-H Camp. Cabins are available for rental. For information call (308) 533-2224. Many different camps are held here both for youth and adults.
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Thedford Art Gallery
509 Court St, NE Hwy 2
Open: May-Dec, Tues-Sat 9am-5pm; Jan-Apr, Tues 10am - 4pm (weather permitting)
Features original bronzes, pottery, paintings and photography from local artists. Art Guild was incorporated in 1966, with art shows throughout the year. Handicap accessible.
Thedford Golf Course
½ mile south of NE Hwy 2 & US Hwy 83 junction
Nebraska's friendliest course offers 9-hole grass greens and fairways, and link style design that follows the natural lay of the Sandhills landscape. Greens Fees Weekdays $15 all day, Weekends $20 all day. Cart rental available at Sandhill Oil, (308) 645-2233.
Thomas County Historical Society Museum
609 Court St (NE Hwy 2)
Open during the summer, Memorial Day to Labor Day. Winter - by appointment only. (308) 645-2489 (308) 645-2459
Former home of respected area ranchers, Chester and Ida Paxton. The museum depicts the history of the Sandhills region, including many relics used by the settlers, and local newspapers dating back to 1887. Handicap accessible
Bar None Hat Company
39313 Hwy 2, Thedford
Custom hatmaker, Kaycee Orr-Hoffman is a master at her craft, building top quality beaver and beaver blend hats one-at-a-time. Kaycee is also a pro at renovations. Bring in your old hat and see what she can do.
Sandhills Smiles Photography
P O Box 204, 505 Walnut Street
Thedford, NE 69166
Capturing and preserving images for the Family Tree is what Sandhills Smiles Photography is all about! The Studio is open by appointment only in an effort to work with everyone's "busy in life schedules." Prices are very reasonable. Call or email for brochure about rates.
Thomas County Fairgrounds
The fair building, pavilion and arena are available for rental year-round. For more information, contact Alice Hodges at (308)645-7397. The Thomas County Fairgrounds is located in the Nebraska Sandhills at the crossroads of Highway 83 and Highway 2, one mile east of Thedford.
The main building at the fairgrounds is available year-round for family reunions, wedding receptions, meetings, conferences, craft fairs and other special events. The building includes one large room, approximately 100' X 50' with a seating capacity of 250-300. There are 300 chairs and 20 tables. Stage, podium, and sound system are all available. A full kitchen is located near the main entrance. It includes plenty of counter space, stove, refrigerator, microwave, double sinks and pop cooler. There is also a pass through window for snack bar style service. Men and women restrooms are available in lobby area.
The open-air pavilion is located beside the main building. It measures 50' X 150' and is enclosed on one end with a stage. There are eight folding picnic tables and 60 plastic chairs. Lights and electrical outlets are located throughout the Pavilion. Windscreens hve been installed along the length of the pavilion to ensure weaterh will not interfere with your event.
The arena is available for rodeo, bull riding, team roping, horsemanshi clinics and horse shows. The arena is fully lite and suitable for evening events. There is seating capacity for 300 with two sections of bleachers, one covered. There are six livestock pens for bucking stock and four pens for timed-events, roping box and four bucking chutes. The crow's nest has lights and electrical outlets. There is plenty of room for parking and camping on the grounds.
Dawn E. Bryant Originals
Dawn E. Bryant Originals offers handmade jewelry in stone and silver, bronze, copper and wire wrap, http://www.etsy.com/shop/dawnebryantdesigns as well as fine art and photography, www.dawnebryant.com.
A special events rental is new in town. Let Bridget Licking help you take the worry out of your weddings, showers and banquet decorating needs. Call (308) 645-9073 for more information.
Northern Plains Studio
210 Broadway Street, north of Seneca on the Middle Loup River.
Open by chance or appointment
Call for a tour of Jackie Sevier's riverside studio showcasing her pastels, mixed media and printmaking. Her fresh, award-winning work features Western and Native American inspirations.
Yellow Calf Studio
www.lindaegle.com Linda Egle - call for appointment
South of NE Hwy 2, east of Seneca
Sculptor and Rancher, Linda Egle's fine bronze sculptures depicts Sandhills ranch life.
100 Adrian Street. Open summer months beginning Memorial Day. Call for hours and directions.
Handmade ride able "critters."
East of Thedford along NE Hwy 2, beside the Arrowhead Cafe
Clean comfortable rooms; wireless internet and cable TV. Reasonable rates. Arrowhead Café next door. Semi parking and RV hook-ups.
(800) 373-1648 (308) 645-2284
1 mile east of Thedford adjacent to Stubs.
Wireless high speed internet, remote cable TV, free continental breakfast, hot tub, pull-through RV hook-up, truck parking and plug-ins.
Halsey Frontier Inn
1 mile away from the Nebraska State Forest in historic downtown Halsey, along Highway 2. 11 sleeping rooms, R V hook-ups and a deluxe, furnished cabin.
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Middle Loup River Ranch
5 mi west of Halsey, 9 miles east of Thedford on NE Highway 2. Fully furnished guest ranch house nestled in the Middle Loup River Valley. Fully furnished, sleeps eight. Corrals available for your horses. Minutes from the Nebraska National Forest.
RV Sites and Camping
Reservations (877) 444-6777
Year round camping. 37 campsites with and without electricity and RV dump station, shower house with flush toilet. Primitive Camping available at two additional primitive campgrounds on the forest - Natick Campground with seven sites and Whitetail Campground with 10 sites. No running water, showers or electrical hook-ups. Corrals available at both campgrounds for horseback riders. Whitetail is located at the southern end of the ATV/horseback/hiking trail. Bessey Recreation Complex: Swimming pool open Memorial Day weekend through mid-Aug. Closed Wednesdays. Volleyball, horseshoe pits, and game field.
Nebraska State 4-H Camp
Located in the Nebraska National Forest, this camp's aesthetic meshing of the scenic Sandhills with the world's largest hand-planted forest creates a beautiful getaway. The 4-H Camp facilities include cabins and a large cedar lodge with dining area, full kitchen, meeting rooms and ballroom.
Rental Cabins at the 4H Camp
Cabins are available for rental when camp is not in session. There are 13 sleeping cabins with bathrooms in or nearby. These spacious cabins can accommodate groups from 4-23 guests. Getaway packages also include meals at the main lodge.
Camps for Kids ages 8-18
Register online 4H.UNL.EDU
State 4-H camp is held each summer mid-May through July and is open to all kids from any state. Includes three levels of camping programs:
Explorer (ages 8-11) 3 days/2 nights
Discovery (ages 11-15) 4-5 days/3-4 nights
Experience (ages 14-18) 4-5 days/3-4 nights
Favorite camp activities include Grossology, Survivor, Tube and Tank (rafting in a stock tank) on the Loup River, the zip line, Outdoor Skills and Amazing Race.
The Lodge is perfect for larger groups interested in a peaceful setting for a retreat, art workshop, reunion, conference or wedding. The main level provides seating for 150 and a second level ballroom is accessible by elevator lift or stairs. Two additional meeting rooms can accommodate up to 75. Full kitchen and dining service provided.
Bring Your Club to Camp
The 4-H Camp in available to host your club or group camp. Currently it hosts Range, Ballet, REA Camps and Outdoor Education Days for surrounding schools.
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Numerous side trip opportunities are available in an easy 1 to 1 ½ hour drive.
West of Thomas County on NE Hwy 2
Glidden Canoe Rentals
West of Thomas County on NE Hwy 2.
Canoe & kayak rental for the Middle Loup River north of Mullen, and the Dismal River south of Mullen and Seneca. Try something new - rent a tank (a real stock tank) to enjoy the Middle Loup River. It's great fun for all ages.
Cattle Ranching 101
NE Hwy 14, southwest of Mullen
The Lazy Heart Ranch offers 2-4 tours of their ranch. Pasture walks and geo-caching also available.
30 miles northeast; NE Hwy 2, to NE Hwy 91
Sandhills Guest Ranch Bed & Breakfast
83445 N. Loup Spur, DeGroff Ranch. ½ mi. NW off NE Hwy 7
Relax on a working ranch. Private buildings and home-cooked meals. Home of Doc's Hideout.
Uncle Buck's Lodge
(800) 239-9190 | (308) 547-2210
Great restaurant with home-cooked meals and steaks
Three-story lodge located on the scenic North Loup River. Big game room, hunting, fishing, canoeing and hayrack rides.
55 miles east on NE Hwy 2
Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce
Broken Bow is a true "cow town." Numerous rodeos, cutting and horse shows are held year round at the fair grounds. Visit the Custer County Historical Museum, featuring photography of Solomon Butcher and area genealogy research library. Stroll through Broken Bow's Historic Downtown District, listed on the National Register of Historic Place. Shop for unique gifts or get your western gear at Way Out West. Call for more information.
65 miles north on US Hwy 83
Valentine Chamber of Commerce
Year-round activities include the Bull Bash and Valentine's Celebration in February, Fishing Tournaments, Demolition Derby, 4th of July, Cherry County Fair in August, Old West Days in October, and numerous rodeos throughout the year.
+ Valentine National Wildlife Refuge
+ Fort Niobrara Wildlife Refuge
+ Niobrara River, (one of the top ten canoeing rivers in the nation)
+ Smith Falls State Park, tallest waterfall in Nebraska
+ Merritt Reservoir
+ Snake Falls, largest waterfall in Nebraska
+ Cherry County Historical Society Museum
+ Centennial Hall
+ Young's Western Wear - a great western wear store for Sandhills ranchers, cowboys and visitors
+ Plains Trading Company - a wonderful book store that specializes in books about the area, Nebraska & South Dakota, the Great
+ Plains, and Native Americans
+ Rosebud Indian Reservation, in South Dakota, is just 13 miles north of Valentine
+ Rosebud Casino, is located just across the state line in South Dakota on US Highway 83
65 miles south on US Hwy
North Platte Chamber of Commerce
Nebraskaland Days and Buffalo Bill Rodeo held mid-June
North Platte Regional Airport
Lee Bird Field has regularly scheduled flights to Denver.
Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park and State Recreation Area
Golden Spike Tower/Bailey Railroad Yard
Visit the Golden Spike Tower overlooking the Union Pacific Railroad Bailey Yard. The world's largest railroad classification yard.
Twentieth Century Veteran's Memorial
Lincoln County Historical Museum, Canteen & Old West Town