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Eugene T Mahoney State Park Nebraska: The Ultimate Guide

Growing up in Nebraska, your summer wasn’t complete without a day trip out to MahFoney State Park.  Whether we were scampering up the tower to gaze out over the Platte River, make ceramics at the Mahoney state park activity center, to go swimming in the HUGE and amazing wave pool, or to have an Omaha Staycation and go camping overnight, there was always something to do.

Located just between Lincoln and Omaha, Mahoney State Park seems to always be a favorite amongst Nebraskans and for good reason.  There are endless things to do and with such quick and easy access to two main cities (and surprisingly a lot to do in between, see below!) it’s no wonder that so many people use it as a great getaway.

If you haven’t already read our State Park Series, here are a few of our faves that you should check out:

9 Reasons Why You Should Visit a Nebraska State Park This Summer

Nebraska State Parks Permits and Passes:  Everything You Need To Know

Quick Facts Before Heading to Mahoney

Location and Address: 28500 West Park Hwy, Ashland, NE 68003

  • About 30 minutes from Lincoln and 30-45 minutes to Omaha

Contact Information:  The easiest way to contact Eugene T. Mahoney State Park is just to call them.  They have a really easy answering service and all their agents have been SUPER helpful anytime we’ve called for questions. (402) 944-2523

Park Entrance Fees:  You need a Nebraska State Park Permit on your vehicle anytime you enter a State Park.

You can read EVERYTHING you need to know, including the costs, how many people the passes get in, where you can purchase them and more at our Ultimate Guide To Nebraska State Park Permits and Passes.


Mahoney For All Ages

mahoney state park activities
Photo Courtesy Nebraska Tourism

One of the things that I love most about Mahoney is no matter your age, there is something to do at the state park.


There are a ton of things that EVERYONE loves doing at Mahoney, but a few are really fantastic, specifically for families, but a few of my family’s favorites are:

Activities For All Ages

  • Camping
  • The Activity Center
  • Craft Center (paint ceramics, work with wood and leather etc)
  • Horseback riding
  • Gardens, Greenhouse and Arboretum
  • Paddleboats ($8/30 minutes) and Marina
  • Fishing and other wildlife observations
  • Hiking (more on this in a bit)
  • Mahoney state park melodrama and theater (SO much fun and the kids love these, too!)
  • MORE!

What I love about Mahoney is that it has served as a great day trip ever since I was a kid all the way through adulthood.

  • In my teen years, we’d go out and drive the roads and go hiking through the woods.
  • When my husband and I were dating, we had a romantic date night, lying under the vast sky and stargazed.
  • As a family, we love to go out and camp or with my extended family and rent a cabin for a mini “family reunion.”

Things to Do At Mahoney in the Winter

People often forget that the State Parks are still a great getaway, even in the cold winter months!  With only being about 30-40 minutes from Omaha and less than that from Lincoln, it’s the perfect place to shake the cabin fever during our often treacherous winters!

Tobagoning and Sledding

Mahoney Tobogganing and Sledding
Photo Courtesy Nebraska Tourism

Bring your own sled and hot cocoa and go sledding or tobogganing down the hills! The only cost is your entrance fee to the park.

Indoor Playground (info, costs, etc)

This play area is not just any indoor park.  There are ball bits galore, tunnels high and low, obstacle courses to run through and slides at every corner.

When your hungry, you can purchase snacks or bring your own picnic.  It’s a steal of a deal, your kids will be exhausted by the end of the day and you’ll have gotten out of the house for countless hours.

Sounds like a win for everyone!

Want even more details on the Mahoney Indoor Play Zone? 
Check out all my insider tips and further info here.

Indoor Playground Hours:

Winter Hours are:

Monday, Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m- 8 p.m

Saturday from 11 a.m.- 8 p.m and Sunday from 11 a.m- 6 p.m

CLOSED Tuesdays and Wednesdays

Cost: $2 (+ Park Entrance)

Other Notes:  Kids must have socks (even in the summer).  Great for all ages from infants who can crawl (ball pit) to older elementary children.

Mahoney State Park Ice Skating

At the same location as the indoor play area is the ice skating rink, generally opening in November (pending season/weather).  Between sledding, ice skating and the play zone, you’ve easily got yourself an entire jam packed day of winter fun.

Admission: $2 (covers the indoor playground as well).  Bring your own skates or rent ones for $3

Check Out More Info on The Mahoney Ice Skating Rink Here

Rock Climbing

The Activity Center has now added an amazing 40+ foot climbing wall, perfect for ALL levels of climbers, from beginners to advanced.

Here’s Our Full Article On The Venture Climb Rock Climb at Mahoney

The hours are the same as the Activity Center’s (see opening times and costs here)

Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

Hop on any of the 7 miles of trails and have some beautiful alone time in nature while getting your workout in!
(Note: Do bring your own gear and dress accordingly)

Ice Fishing

Just like in the summer, you can fish at Mahoney in the winter (fishing permit required).


Staying and Sleeping at Mahoney

It is well worth spending the night (or a few) at Mahoney with so much to do there.  Luckily, there are several options for all types of travelers and budgets!

Mahoney State Park Cabin Rental

mahoney state park cabins
Photo Courtesy NE Tourism

Staying at the Mahoney Cabins seems to always be a favorite.  It’s pretty easy to see why though when you consider that there are 57 fully furnished cabins nestled into the woods that are available all year for rent, all with varying sizes, floor plans, and comfort levels.

What is Included in the Cabins:

One of my favorite parts about renting a cabin at Mahoney is that most of what you need (outside of food) is already provided.

  • Linens, blankets and bedding
  • Tables, chairs and furniture
  • Basic cookware such as pots and pans and hand towels
  • Towels

Other Amenities

  • Air Conditioning as well as heating
  • Fireplace
  • TV
  • Refrigerator, Stove/Oven, Microwave
  • Deck with Grill

Mahoney State Park Cabin Prices and Reservations

You can check out current prices and make any Mahoney State Park Reservations here

Expert Tip:  The Cabins at Mahoney open for availability one year out and the kicker is that they go EXTREMELY fast!  If you want a cabin, be prepared to book it a year in advance to ensure availability.

Bonus Tip: In the summer, you’ll see that it’s typical that a two-night minimum stay is required for all cabins.

Mahoney State Park Cabin Prices (as of current writing)

  • Standard 2-bedroom: sleeps 4, $135
  • Standard 2-bedroom: sleeps 6, $160
  • Treetop 2-bedroom: Sleeps 6-8, $170
  • Two bedroom deluxe: sleeps 4-6, $170
  • Four bedroom deluxe:  – sleeps 8-10, $275
  • Six bedroom standard: sleeps 12, $300
  • Six bedroom deluxe: sleeps 16-20, $455

Mahoney State Park Camping

mahoney state park camping
Photo Courtesy Nebraska Tourism

While a lot of visitors love the cabins, my heart is always at the campground!  I LOVE going Glamping in Nebraska and Mahoney is the perfect place if you’ve got an RV or Pop Up, like we do.  At all the sites, you can find a modern bathroom/showering facility, drinking water, coin-operated laundry and dump stations.

If you are a complete newbie at camping but want to try your hand at it, Mahoney is a great place, since all your modern amenities are quickly within reach.  Here is our ESSENTIAL ONLY Gear for Beginner Campers to help you focus in on the necessary gear for a successful camping trip.

Tent Camping

I can’t even count the number of times that we’ve camped at Mahoney.  With so many things to do right in the park, it’s the perfect summer activity for all ages and any group.

All pads come with a fire pit where you can get your smore’s on and the spaces are not cramped and crowded like a lot of other campgrounds.

Cost: $22 Per Night + Park Entrance Fee or Use your Annual Pass

RV Campground

If you’ve got a rig or trailer, grab a lakeside asphalt pad for a great night at the park! The spots are quite spacious and perfect for all sizes of RVs.


$22 includes electric.

$28 includes a full hookup (electric, water, sewer).  However, there are only about 5 spots for this and are therefore very limited.  Book in advance!

Asphalt pads vary in length.


Mahoney State Park Lodge

If you are not into roughing it, you can still enjoy staying the night at the lodge, which are basically hotel rooms.  Just like a hotel, you’ll have basic amenities like:

  • Wifi
  • AC/Heat
  • Telephone
  • TV
  • Private Bath
  • Some have extra lofts
  • Most rooms have decks overlooking the park

At the lodge, you’ll also find a restaurant and gift shop.

Mahoney Lodge Rooms Pricing (as per current writing)

Standard rooms (2 queen beds): $80
Loft rooms (2 queen beds + sofa sleeper) $90-$95

Booking a Cabin, Campsite or Lodge Room

All sites and lodging can be reserved at the Reserve America site.


Other Awesome Things To Do At Mahoney

I’ve already mentioned most of the favorites, but here is further information on some of the top picks of things to do at Mahoney as well as a bit more in-depth information on each.

Mahoney State Park Pool

mahoney water park and mahoney state park pool

The Mahoney pool isn’t just any pool.  Oh no, you’ve got a whole Mahoney water park ready to have one awesome aquatic day at.  Things you can find at the pool and waterpark are:

  • Two twisty turny water slides
  • Diving board area
  • Zero Entry, HUGE wave pool (tip: this gets EXTREMELY packed, so much so that if you are not a great swimmer, I’d be cautious)
  • Water playground PERFECT for the littles (zero depth entry, kiddie slides, dumping bucket and more)
  • Large pool deck with lounge chairs (limited)
  • Concessions

Fun little fact: I used to manage pools for Omaha Parks and Rec Aquatic department back in my college days and can tell you the training of guards, cleanliness of facilities and priority to patrons at Mahoney is second to none with the City of Omaha pools. Unlike a lot of water parks, at the Mahoney pool, you don’t have to worry about nasty water and hungover teenage life guards.  You can feel safe and clean, rest assured!

Mahoney State Park Pool Prices

The Mahoney water park isn’t necessarily cheap, but if you are planning on spending the whole day here, considering how large the entire pool facility is, it’s definitely worth the money.

Adults: $10

Children: $8.00

Seasonal Pass: Adults= $135; Children= $110 or purchase a Family Punch Pass= $320 which includes a total of 40 punches (entrances)

Note: In addition to the pool admission costs, remember you also have to pay for the entrance to the State Park with a day pass or annual State Park Permit

Mahoney State Park Pool Hours

Note: The pool is open weather permitting.  You do not receive a refund for inclement weather.

Memorial Day – Mid-August:
Mon-Fri: 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. DINNER BREAK Closure.  Reopens at 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Saturdays and Sundays:
12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. DINNER BREAK/CLOSED.  Reopens at 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Mid-August – Labor Day :
Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

*Closed Every Tuesday and Thursday

Expert Tip: Come and go as you please.  You can leave to grab dinner, get the kids down for a nap or just to take a break for another activity and then return to finish out your day in the pool.


Mahoney State Park Horseback Riding

mahoney state park horseback riding
Photo Courtesy Nebraska Tourism

As a kid, I used to LOVE to go horseback riding when we went on vacations!  It’s like you get to go hiking and enjoy the woods, nature and beautiful surroundings…..without the exercise!

Mahoney has phenomenal horseback riding for all levels of riders, but I especially love that this city girl, with pretty much no riding experience can enjoy the majestic animals with the help of professional guides.

Horseback Riding Costs:

Trail Rides: $18 (for ages 6+ only).

Pony Rides: $7 (ages 3-9) (Tip: these only last about 5-10 minutes)


May-Mid October

Tip: You do not pay for your rides at the John Wayne Stables.  Instead, make sure you book ahead and must pay at the Administrative Office.  It is worth calling ahead to see what times are available, ESPECIALLY on busy, holiday weekends! (402) 944-2523.


Mahoney State Park Hiking

There are over 7 miles of trails at Mahoney.  BUUUUT, here’s the kicker, they have SO much potential for being really awesome hiking trails, but, for some reason, are really poorly maintained.  I mean, we aren’t talking like “Oh no, there’s a fallen tree in the way!”

No, we mean, “Holy crap, we can’t even scale this ledge because it’s literally falling off a side of an almost cliff.”

It really is a shame.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t at least give it a go.  Just know that you may have to turn back earlier than expected or that the littlest of ones may have a really difficult time.

Tip: If you want hiking, you can’t go wrong with Platte River State Park.  It’s only a 9-minute drive between the two and Platte has some SUPERB hiking trails!! Your Nebraska State Park Permit (either annual or day) that you had to purchase for Mahoney gets you into Platte as well.



Mahoney Zipline, Ropes Course & Treetop Obstacle Course

This brand new attraction at Mahoney, in partnership with GoApe is sure to be a fantastic addition to the park.  As one of the few ropes courses in Nebraska, it is the perfect activity for a day date idea, older kids’ birthdays, adrenaline junkies and anyone just looking for something new and fun!

There are about six obstacles high up in the sky (upwards of 40 feet) where you zipline from one to another, pretty much ensuring not stop fun (and exercise!)

Activities Available:

  • Zip-line
  • Jungle Crossings
  • Magic Carpet
  • Obstacles

Plan on the entire course taking 2-3 hours, give or take on your physical and competitive levels!

Costs: $49 for ages 16+.  $39 for ages 15 and under (also must be a minimum height of 4’7”)

Important: If there are youth (ages 15 and under), one adult (age 19+) must be participating per every 4 children.  16-18 year olds only need a signed waiver by their legal guardian to participate

What To Wear:  If you’ve never done a ropes course, you are in a for a treat; they are a blast!!! However, dress appropriately, meaning:

  • Closed toe shoes (required)
  • Active clothing (no dresses, etc).  Preferably, appropriate for the seasonal weather as well!
  • No super loose clothing (including shorts, as you will be wearing a harness)
  • Work Gloves aren’t a bad idea, but also not required.  However, if you would like, you can purchase some on site.

Book Ahead:  You’ll want (need) to book ahead, especially as this becomes more and more popular at Mahoney.  Book online or call 1-800-971-8271


Other Pricing and Mahoney Information

Rent a Picnic Shelter

This is absolutely perfect for family reunions, large get togethers, work outings and more.

Cost: $45 per day (request a site with electric hookup for $60)

Catch a Live Show

Our personal favorites are the melodramas but all of their plays are exceptional!

Summer Shows: Adults= $7, Children= $5

Winter Shows: Adults= $10, Children= $8

Expert Tip:  As it’s next to the pool, in the summer, throw a t-shirt on and take a quick break from the water.  Ask at the pool at free returns into the facility


Nearby Attractions to Mahoney

Platte State Park

Not as big and with fewer attractions, but equally as fun, it’s a great addition to a weekend at Mahoney and offers excellent trails.

Soaring Wings Winery

About 20 minutes NorthEast of Mahoney is the perfect little winery for tastings, picnics and more.

Strategic Air Command

Just two minutes outside the park grounds, any kid (or kid at heart) who loves aviation would find this the PERFECT stop for a few hours.  (Tip: It is on it’s way to Omaha if you are heading in/out of that direction)


If the greens of nature aren’t your cup of tea, there are several greens available to get your golf on.  Quarry Oaks Golf Club is just 5 minutes and Iron Horse Golf Club is only about 10 minutes from the State Park.

(I say send the guys for a break to the golf course while the gals go for a wine tasting!)


Lincoln, NE is just under half an hour from Mahoney making the park a great place to stay at during Husker Games or if you are just wanting to explore the State Capitol!


While Omaha, NE deserves it’s own weekend away, if you are pressed on time, you can still jet into the city within 30-45 minutes (pending final destination).

Of course, no trip to Omaha is complete without a trip to the Omaha Zoo (here are 10 tips only locals know about Henry Doorly), the phenomenal Omaha Children’s Museum or check out all the amazing and fun things to do in the Old Market and surrounding area.


Are you heading to Mahoney?  What questions do you have?

Have you been to Mahoney?  Tell us in the comments your TOP FAVORITE activity to do there and why!




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