Bow Creek

Farm field with hill in the background

Quick Facts
Cedar County, Nebraska

Canoe/Kayak/Small Boat Launch, Fire Pit, Parking - Auto

Lewis and Clark NHT Visitor Centers and Museums

Bow Creek is a High Potential Historic Site on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and Missouri National Recreational River. 

On August 26, 1804, the expedition camped on a sand bar (in present-day South Dakota) across the Mis-souri from the mouth of Bow Creek (in present-day Nebraska). Here Patrick Gass was formally promoted to the rank of sergeant, filling the position formerly held by the late Sergeant Floyd. Clark identified Bow Creek as the general location of an abandoned Omaha village, writing, “above the mouth of this Creek a Chief of the Maha nataton displeased with the Conduct of Black bird the main Chief came to this place and built a Town which was called by his name Petite Arch (or Little Bow) this Town was at the foot of a Hill in a handsom Plain fronting the river and Contained about 100 huts & 200 men, the remains of this tribe Since the Death of Petite arch has joined the remaining part of the nation”. 

Circa 1720, the Omaha Tribe established a village near the mouth of Bow Creek known as “Bad Village”, apparently due to a schism that split the tribe. Bad Village was likely occupied until circa 1750, when the factions reunited at a village site near present-day Dakota City, Nebraska. Following the rise of Blackbird, Little Bow and his followers left the Omaha Big Village and resettled in the Bow Creek area circa 1780-1790. Accounts vary, but the Omaha factions reunited following the death of either Blackbird or Little Bow, some¬time prior to 1804. The exact location of the Little Bow Village is currently unknown, but there are numer¬ous archeological sites throughout the area, which is primarily used for agricultural cultivation.


Bow Creek Recreation Area provides many opportunities for the public to experience a part of the Missouri National Recreational River. The 205-acre property includes a mix of wetlands, grasslands, riparian cottonwood forest, and mesic-bur oak forest. Rock and sediment exposures along the Missouri River reveal past geologic events. A mowed grass trail is planned for the property to loop through these environments. In the restored prairie, look for dragonflies and butterflies. In the cottonwood and oak forests, watch for wildlife sign including resident whitetail deer and turkey.

How To Get There

Bow Creek Recreation Area is located along Bow Creek and the Missouri River in Cedar County about 2 miles northeast of Wynot, Nebraska. A series of gravel roads wind you to the location by car. Follow the brown Bow Creek Recreational Area directional signs to the gravel parking lot and trailhead. Visit Google Maps for orientation to the recreation area.

While visiting Bow Creek...

  • Private land surrounds the public access and the entire NPS property. Please watch for property and boundary signs.
  • Trash receptacles are not available on the property. The NPS encourages that you "Leave No Trace" so others can enjoy the Bow Creek Recreation Area experience as well.
  • Camping is allowed and free. Camp only in designated sites marked with brown camping signs and metal fire rings. Visit the Camping Page for more rules and regulations.
  • Watch campfires. Dead and down wood may be collected.
  • Motorized vehicles and horses are prohibited on the property.
  • Do not damage or remove the cultural or natural features.

Hunting Regulations

Bow Creek Recreation Area is open to public hunting and fishing. The following regulations were developed to ensure equal access for all visitors, provide a safe environment for recreation, and protect resources for present and future generations to enjoy. Please following our regulations. Please visit the Hunting Page for additional information.

  • Federal and State Hunting and Fishing Regulations apply.

  • Do not leave personal property unattended for more than 24 hours. This includes waterfowl blinds on the National Park Service accretion property.

  • Non-toxic shot is required for all shotgun hunting.

  • Trapping is prohibited.

Tree Stand Limitations

  • Permanent tree stands and climbing devices are prohibited.
  • Portable tree stands and climbing devices that do not use nails, wire, or bolts for attachment are allowed during Nebraska deer hunting season.
  • Screw-in steps only.
  • No more than one portable tree stand per licensed hunter.
  • Name, address, and phone number of the owner or user must be on the stand and be legible and visible from the ground.
  • Other blinds or elevated platforms not attached to a tree must also conform to the specified dates and labeling requirement.

Questions regarding visitor use or hunting at Bow Creek Recreation Area, please call the National Park Service headquarters at 605-665-0209.

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, Missouri National Recreational River

Last updated: October 5, 2020