Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area and Nature Center

210615 Highway 71
Gering, NE 69341


The Game and Parks Commission acquired the initial Wildcat Hills tract in 1929, and the picnic area was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Depression era . Nearly all of the buildings and facilities on the area, with the exception of the new nature center, are built of native stone, quarried nearby. Wood for roofs, bridges and benches came from logs cut on the area.

In 1980, the Commission acquired the 79-acre Reavis tract along the north edge of the recreation area a valuable addition since foot trails laid out by CCC and WPA workers extend onto the tract and the area had not been grazed in several years. Three stone shelters are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The larger group shelter has fireplaces in each end and can accommodate about 40 people comfortably. The two smaller shelters each have a picnic table and fireplace and are ideal for family outings. Picnic tables and fire grates are scattered throughout the area, and drinking water is available. Vault toilets are provided at two sites.

In October 1995 The new Wilcat Hills Nature Center was opened. The construction of the Nature Center was a colaborative effort between a group of local civic and educational leaders and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Funding for the new Nature Center was made possible by combining monies from the Commission and donations from the Nature Center Committee, the Scottsbluff-Gering United Chamber of Commerce and the Oregon Trail Community Foundation.

The center's split-level design takes advantage of the hilltop location with little intrusion on the scenic site, and the building's windows are deeply tinted so visitors can closely observe birds and other wildlife coming from the forest to use feeders and plantings along the building's north side. Windows and observation decks extending along the building's north and east sides overlook the pine forest and the North Platte Valley and Scotts Bluff National Monument.

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