Located on the area abutting the Missouri River just north of I-680 is the Ponca Hills community. The neighborhood stretches west to Highway 75 and north to the Douglas/Washington County line and is mostly hilly terrain with a blend of wilderness, parks, agriculture and family home sites.
On the eastern edge of the community are three parks: Neale Woods, Hummel Park, and Dodge Park.
Neale Woods is 600 acres located in the hilly area along the bluffs and is operated by the Henry Doorly Zoo. Known for its trail system, nature center, restored prairie and the Millard Observatory which holds Astronomy Nights twice a month, it is a popular site for hiking, bird watching, and observing wildlife within its natural habitat.
Hummel Park is 200 acres of steep hills, winding dirt roads, hiking trails and picnic areas managed by the Omaha Parks and Recreation Department. It is famous for its marvelous views of the Missouri River and the park’s trees and terrain from an overlook above a cliff known as the Devil’s Slide. Within the hills is a challenging disc golf course, and close to one of the entrances is the newly constructed Hummel Park Nature Center. Day camps are held in conjunction with schools throughout the summer and have served the area for over 60 years.
N.P. Dodge Memorial Park sits next to the Missouri River and features a public dock and a marina with storage slips for recreational boats. The 445 acre park contains a modern pavilion, baseball and soccer fields, tennis courts, playgrounds, picnic areas, and grassy expanses for kids and adults to enjoy the sights and sounds of the river. Donated by the N.P. Dodge family in the 1930’s, it is a popular get-away all year round.
Closer to Highway 75 are most residential home sites—some located in community settings and others on small acreages or ranches, and still others on more private locations within the hills. Ponca Hills School serves grades K-6 in a modern facility, with older children attending their choice of public or parochial schools in the vicinity. The Ponca Hills Volunteer Fire Department protects the neighborhoods, and its roomy fire barn is the site of many social activities. The Ponca Farm Stable also hosts several events and is available for boarding, riding lessons, and training of horses in its indoor and outdoor arenas.
The Ponca Hills Preservation Society actively works to maintain quality of life, land use, public services, and public safety, as well the historic and unique characteristics of the neighborhood through meetings, community clean-up days, and a very active Citizen’s Patrol.
As one citizen wrote: “If you want to see brilliant stars, majestic fall colors, wildlife, as well as plant a garden and be within minutes of all that Omaha has to offer, you’ll enjoy life in Ponca Hills.”
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