As adventurers travel through Nebraska and see many miles of corn, it’s easy to understand why the state’s official nickname is “The Cornhusker State.” What might surprise you is that Nebraska once had another official state name. From 1895 to 1945, it was known as “The Tree Planter State.”
Some of the efforts of those early tree planters can be seen when you stop at the beautiful, wooded Bessey Recreation Complex and Campground. Located in central Nebraska, the recreation complex is in the Nebraska National Forest and next to the oldest tree nursery in the United States Forest Service. Both the nursery and the recreation complex were named in honor of Dr. Charles Edwin Bessey, a professor of botany at the University of Nebraska from 1884 to 1915.
Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities at the Bessey Recreation Complex and Campground including swimming in the adjacent, shallow Middle Loup River, fishing in the stocked pond, playing basketball, riding bicycles, trail riding ATVs, mountain biking, hiking, birdwatching, savoring a picnic, or spending the night in a shady, woodland campsite.
Most of the 40 campsites for tents or RVs are in full shade, and many are accessible. Some sites have electric hookups with 20-, 30- or 50-amp pedestals. A group site offers 11 electrical hookups, and it’s convenient to vault toilets and has a dumpster and its own picnic shelter.
Since Nebraska is considered to be located in a region of the country known as “Tornado Alley,” it’s important to know that the Bessey Recreation Complex and Campground has a designated tornado shelter.