A couple of generations ago, municipal parks were generally open to camping. We had a tradition of caring for travelers, particularly in the West. After all, everyone (with the exception of the natives of course), had come from somewhere else, and most had suffered privations along the way. A remembrance of hard times made it a civic duty to provide for strangers: a place to rest, to refresh oneself – this was merely common decency, and for many, a religious duty.
We are much more fearful of strangers now, of course, and the municipal campground has mostly gone the way of the buffalo. But like the buffalo, it still exists in some of the more out of the way places in the West.
One of these is Scottsbluff. Right across the Platte River from the bluffs themselves sits a lovely city campground, open to tenters (that is, hikers) and RVers alike. For a few dollars you get shade, a picnic table and a fire ring, a water spigot, and a bathroom with showers.
Grocery stores and restaurants are within walking distance, making it an ideal resupply stop for GPT hikers. And…the Scottsbluff City Zoo is directly adjacent. What’s not to like?
Municipal campgrounds are mostly a thing of the past. But some places don’t care so much about staying up to date. The High Plains are a place where traditions of hospitality and a welcoming attitude to travelers have not been completely forgotten.