Dakota County boasts budding state recreation area
Tucked away among the rolling hills of Dakota County, the Danish Alps State Recreation Area derives its name from the early Danish pioneers who first settled in the area. Its creation was part of a two-fold plan by the Papio-Missouri Natural Resource District to stabilize the Pigeon/Jones Creek Watershed and to build the most thoughtfully planned recreation area possible.
Plans for the recreation area were drawn up in the fall of 2009, and the park officially opened its gates on Aug. 1, 2015. Three years later, this outdoor recreation oasis is becoming a jewel of Northeast Nebraska. Its 219-acre lake and 520 acres of parkland offer something for everyone. The discerning fisherman, the adventurous kayaker, the overnight horse rider or the hunter looking for a mixed-bag opportunity — all will find sanctuary there.
Vince Kramper of Hubbard, a longtime board member of the Papio-Missouri NRD and the Nebraska Environmental Trust, was the project’s greatest champion. The recreation area’s Kramper Lake was named after him, and it now offers excellent opportunities for anglers to catch eating-size black crappies, bluegills and largemouth bass. Other stocked fish include channel catfish and walleyes.
Rock breakwaters and a wetlands complex provide habitat to both fish and fowl, while Kramper Lake’s diverse underwater structures and varying depths benefit both fish and fisherman. The lake reaches 45 feet deep in some areas and was designed for both the shoreline and boat angler in mind. The 40-foot boat launch ramp and large fishing pier are handicap-accessible, and a fish cleaning station was built this year. Roads are also maintained throughout the winter for the dedicated hard water angler.
Located far away enough from the big city but close enough for the spontaneous day tripper or weekend warrior, Danish Alps draws in people from all directions. Both modern and primitive campers will find comfort here, while the traveling equestrian will appreciate the amenities for man and beast. With 14 horse corrals, hitching posts and convenient access to water, the equestrian campground is becoming more popular every year. Modern restrooms and showers are bonuses for all.
For those looking for a more remote experience, all it takes is a short paddle from the boat ramp. Six recently added kayak-in campsites offer a quiet, secluded haven for kayakers and canoers. But pack light — the only way to get to these campsites is by water or backpacking.
Outdoor recreation opportunities abound at Danish Alps. A scenic 9.5-mile horseback riding trail winds around most of the lake, and a separate hiking and biking limestone trail covers more than 15 miles.
Danish Alps is also a great place to have a picnic, birthday party or family reunion, with three-day use areas featuring ample shade, seating and beautiful views of the water. Well-manicured lawns are plentiful.
After the campers have left for the summer, the Danish Alps becomes a playground for hunters. Beginning the first Tuesday after Labor Day through the end of spring turkey season, hunting is allowed in the 250 acres south of 203rd Street. These well-managed grasslands hold pheasants, turkey and quail. Deer also wander in, as well as waterfowl that use the area’s water quality basins. Special regulations apply, so refer to the Nebraska hunting guides for details.
Jeff Fields, the commission’s northeastern regional park superintendent, has helped oversee the area’s development since its beginnings.
“Year by year as this area grows and matures, it will only get better and better,” Fields said.
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For more information on Danish Alps SRA, outdoornebraska.gov/danishalps/. To see a contour map of Kramper Lake, pick up a copy of the Danish Alps SRA guide at a Game and Parks office near you or visit maps.outdoornebraska.gov/lakemaps.