There are two main canyon systems in the park, and several of the trails run through, or on the sides of, those canyons. The north canyon, which is a larger canyon, sees more traffic because of more trail, plus the vistas are less obstructed by trees. The Black Hills Overlook Trail and the Steamboat Loop Trail provide the best exploration opportunities in the north canyon.
The south canyon, sometimes called Lebo Canyon, is not as rugged and is more thickly forested. The Norwesca Trail runs through the heart of the south canyon. Because this beautiful little canyon is smaller, the opportunities are less. However, it is still work the hike through to see it.
Getting ThereChadron State Park is 8 miles south of Chadron, Nebraska on Highway 385. The main paved roadway loop through the park is 3.6 miles long, but is connected with several smaller loops that provide cabin and camping access. Free trail maps are available at the park headquarters.
Exploring Canyon Routes
The Black Hills Overlook Trail loop is approximately 4 miles in length, with the low point on the loop being about 3,800 feet in altitude and the high point about 4,200 feet. If you are hiking this loop, you will have to add the distance of your connecting trail unless you are hiking from the Black Hills Overlook Point or if you park along that section of road loop.
The Norwesca Trail is not a loop, so you will need to decide if you wish to do an "out-and-back" from one end of the trail, or else combine a combination of other trails and/or park roads to create your own loop. The map on this page will help you see some of your options and if you would also like to consult the Nebraska Interactive Trails System, you can click on this link: Nebraska Interactive Trails Map. The low point on the 1.5-mile Norwesca Trail is about 3,860 feet in altitude, with the high point at about 4,160 feet.
The Steamboat Loop Trail is a 1.4-mile loop trail that climbs to the south rim of the north canyon in the state park. At the south end of the Steamboat Loop Trail, there is a spur trail that goes over to the Black Hills Overlook Trail route, which at that point is a road. This trail offers great overlooks into the canyon, a chance to climb Steamboat Butte and a connecting route to exploring more of the park's canyons.
Red TapeLike all state parks in Nebraska, all vehicles need a park permit - either a daily or an annual. You can get those at the park headquarters at the entrance. No alcoholic beverages or fireworks are allowed in the state park, nor are firearms or hunting. Campfires are strictly regulated. Dogs must be on a leash and their are pet fees for the cabins. Horseback riding is not allowed in the park, except on a special trail set aside just for that purpose. So, hikers should only encounter other hikers or mountain bikers on the trails in the park.
When to Explore the Canyons & Summits
Ticks are always a problem from spring to late summer, particularly in any grassy area. Good insect repellent is a necessity at times like this.
Chadron State Park Area Weather Forecast & Conditions
If you like your visit to be uncrowded, it's probably best to stay away from holidays and warm weather weekends. Check with the park office about any large special events planned at the state park.
Chadron State Park Camping & Cabins
The primitive tenting area is tucked back into a shady pocket near the RV area, but is just far enough back to be quieter than the RV or cabin areas. For more information about Chadron State Park, check out their website link below. To make reservations or call for more information, the state park phone number is (308)432-6167.
Chadron State Park
The friendly staff at Chadron State Park is always very helpful and you will enjoy your visit there.