NRD recreation areas get new tornado sirens and upgrades as camping season is upon us

YORK COUNTY — Spring is here! With the warmer temperatures and longer days of sun, many are gearing up for outdoor activities in the months ahead. The Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District operates six recreation areas in the district with a variety of amenities from boating and camping, to archery and hiking.

Two of these recreation areas feature enhanced campgrounds with RV hook-ups: Pioneer Trails (Aurora) and Bruce L. Anderson (York, also known as Recharge Lake) Recreation Areas. Camping season at these locations begins Monday, April 8, and will run through October.

Camping is on a first-come, first-served basis, and no advance reservations are available for camping spots. RV camping at these locations is $15/night and tent camping is $5/night. New this year, campers can pay for their site online at

Camping is also available at Smith Creek (Utica) and Oxbow Trails (Ulysses) Recreation Areas at no charge; however, these are undeveloped camping areas with no RV hook-ups. All NRD campgrounds have a 14-day maximum stay in any 30-day period for RVs and tent camping.

There is no cost for day use of any of the recreation areas owned by the Upper Big Blue NRD.

Last year, the Bruce L. Anderson Recreation Area was upgraded with new playground equipment. A similar playground structure will be installed this summer at Smith Creek Recreation Area, as well as a new picnic shelter. A portion of the recreation area will be closed off from May through July for the installation of the playground and the new picnic shelter, but the rest of the facility will remain open.

In March, tornado sirens were added to four of the Upper Big Blue NRD’s recreation areas for added safety for campers. These sirens were funded in large part through a grant from the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency. As originally identified in the 2019 Hazard Mitigation Plan created by the NRD, sirens have now been installed at Smith Creek, Bruce L. Anderson, Pioneer Trails and Oxbow Trail Recreation Areas.

A supply well was recently added to Oxbow Trail Recreation Area to supplement the natural spring fed lake. This step was taken to ensure the continued success of the fishery, which is often recognized as being one of the best in the area.

NRD Recreation Exploration
Nebraska’s NRDs are challenging outdoor enthusiasts to visit as many of the state’s 80 NRD recreation areas as they can between March 1and September 16. Visit an NRD recreation area and submit a photo for a chance to win prizes. There are monthly drawings as well as a grand prize drawing. Full details at

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