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Beautiful Homestead Horse Camp in Nebraska

Last week I wrote about Day One of our 3-week equitrek. Our second night on the road was spent at the Homestead Horse Camp at Branched Oak State Recreation Area near Raymond, Nebraska. I had previously made reservations through ReserveAmerica. Based on maps available online, we chose a spot at the end of a row, near horse corrals.

The horse camp is located at the back end of a “regular” campground. We had 50 amp service but no dedicated water source. There was a water hydrant fairly close. As we were leaving the next morning, we planned to fill our holding tank at a hydrant closer to the main campground as we were on our way out. However, the water was not very clear! A maintenance guy was working nearby, and he told us the best water was in the horse camp. We returned to our campsite and filled up there before we left.

The camping fee is $35/night plus an $8.50 reservation fee. Additionally, there is a fee for each vehicle that enters the park. We already had a yearly sticker for Nebraska because we camped and boated at a Nebraska lake. That yearly sticker costs out-of-state vehicles $60/year, or you can pay a daily fee of $12. The fees are cut in half for Nebraska residents.

When we pulled into camp, there was one other couple already there. They didn’t seem too social. Alan later learned that they had arrived shortly before we did and managed to choose our reserved spot (which at that point was not marked reserved) in the otherwise totally empty campground. The park ranger arrived to put our reserved sticker at our spot and made them move. When we arrived, they were a couple of campsites away from us.

The horses were secure in corrals that were located relatively close to the campsites. In the photo below, I took the picture of our coach and trailer while standing fairly close to the corrals. There were six separate pens in a cluster. Our horses occupied two at one end and the other campers’ horses were at the opposite end. I liked the fact that mine were not in direct contact with theirs.

Homestead horse camp
A nearly empty campground and nice trails along the lake.

It was 80 degrees when we were setting up camp. We hustled, as we wanted to ride before the sun set. We didn’t get started until around 7 PM. Still, we managed to ride for an hour and cover about 3 miles. The trails were wide and grass-covered. The park website states that there are 3 miles of equestrian trails, but it seems that additional trails have been mowed for horses. Three of the dogs went with us. I appreciated the fact that, as long as I kept them out of the lake, they would stay clean!

Given that there weren’t miles of trails, I didn’t think we’d get lost or turned around. I wasn’t running my GPS. It did get a bit confusing, but I remembered that when we headed out, we had the lake on our left and the main road on our right. That knowledge, plus my phone and compass, got us back to camp easily enough. It was close to dark by the time we arrived back in camp.

There was an obstacle course in camp that offered 8-10 different challenges. We spent at least 20 minutes playing around on the obstacle course before we set out on the trails.

There was a bridge in the obstacle course that was significantly easier than many that our horses have already crossed. Kadeen didn’t bat an eye. Sadie, on the other hand, wanted none of it. She lost. However, she was quite wound up when we started out on the trail. Alan was riding her and he had to contend with her jigginess.

I wasn’t sure how Kadeen would respond to the corrugated pipe, as historically he really didn’t like those. He was fine!

Alan and Sadie, contemplating the scary bridge.

We spent one night here, as it was mostly a layover with an opportunity to give the horses a little exercise.

We try to limit our travel distance to around 300 miles, or 5-6 hours. We don’t seem to get moving very quickly in the morning and it takes time to break camp. Our next stop was a county park in Iowa. It was a bit out of the way, but well worth the effort to find it. As we left Homestead camp, Alan said, “Put this on the favorites list.” We liked Belva Deer camp in Iowa even better. I’ll tell you about it next week!

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