Park for Pioneers: Lincoln’s Wildlife Refuge

Does being around people too long make you claustrophobic?  Would you love to see prairie instead of buildings?  Would 668 acres of land only sparsely filled with buildings do?  Long to go for hike?  How about 8 miles of hiking trails?  You will find all of this and more at Lincoln’s Pioneer’s Park.

Pioneer Park Nature Center Buffalo signs

Place at a Glance

Name/Location Pioneer’s Park Nature Center: near Coddington and W. Van Dorn: Lincoln
Website/Facebook Pioneer Park Information; Facebook (includes event updates)
Open hours Monday-Saturday: 8:30-5:00; Sunday Noon-5; closed only 3 holidays
What to Know The park itself is open from sunrise to sundown; only building hours are limited; BUG SPRAY IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED; allow at least two hours to explore if you are coming from a distance
Cost Free, although donations are always welcome
Parking Directly in between the two nature center buildings: West part of the park
Group Tours No reservations needed, although you may want to call first if you are hoping for a specific talk to make sure there is adequate staff.
Museum Manners Most exhibits and animals on display are for touching – occasionally certain animals may need space.  Always check when in doubt.  Only real “rule” to follow is no running inside – could scare the animals that live there.
Recommended Ages Child friendly for any age; sturdy strollers recommended for long hikes


The word “pathfinder” is a synonym for “pioneer,” and this Lincoln treasure allows you to do just that.  If you have time to explore, you never know what you will discover.  So, grab your walking shoes and go!

Pioneer Park hobbit hole

A place we stumbled upon that my kids like to call “The Hobbit Hole.”

Both of the two interpretive nature buildings are full of many items and animals to touch.  They have nature books to browse through, puzzles to do, animal skins to feel and even various live reptiles and birds to interact with.  We have been many times and still have never managed to see everything.  (Or even half of what they have available at this park.)  If you live close by, you could make many quick trips to explore.  But if you are driving from a distance, I would allow several hours to even begin to appreciate all that is available.

Pioneer Park island

This island area near one of the center buildings is full of wildlife.  My kids love to cross the bridge and see the deer as well as many other animals that call this park home.

I first really explored Pioneer’s Park when I was in high school.  As a former cross country runner, this location was our main race course.  Having traversed the race path many times, this park provides an unexpected glimpse of the beauty of God’s creation despite its close proximity to such an urban setting.  (Too bad I had to keep moving and was not allowed to stop and appreciate the wonders!)

Indian smoke signals at Pioneer Park

This “Smoke Signals” statue is another favorite destination of my kids.

Want to know more about how Pioneer’s Park came to be?  Visit: Pioneer Park’s History.  This post explain just a bit of what is available – I didn’t even mention the pillars area or the amphitheater or the ponds or the buffalo or …  Guess you will have to head there yourself to find out more!


Categories: Lincoln, Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Metro, Passport Pursuit Programs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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