Tag Archives: Nebraska

Scott’s Bluff

Sounds like a high stakes card game doesn’t it. In this case it’s Scotts Bluff National Monument named after Hiram Scott who died here. While driving through the plains and fields of Nebraska for a significant time the landscape begins to become a little monotonous making any change stand out. In the panhandle of Nebraska lies these beautiful white bluffs. Kind of an entrance to the mountainous terrain of the Rocky Mountains.

The bluffs at Scotts Bluff National Monument

Our family was on our way to Colorado to explore these mountains and stopped near Scotts Bluff National Monument for the night so decided to learn more about the significance of this national park. It was a beautiful sunny Midwestern late afternoon with temperatures hovering around 90 degrees Fahrenheit and a gentle breeze to keep us cool.

There are 3 tunnels through the bluff taking you to the top.

The first stop was in the Visitor’s Center to pay our entrance fee and learn more about the significance of the area. In this place passed several important trails in history including the Oregon Trail, Mormon Trail, California Trail, and a Pony Express route for a short time. While these are all significant pieces in United States history, the Oregon Trail was the portion that intrigued me the most. I don’t know if it’s simply because the first computer game I played was called Oregon Trail on an Apple computer or because of the historical significance of people migrating west on this long and difficult trail.

Sun moving closer to the horizon behind the bluffs

After this educational stop we progressed to the Summit Road leading to beautiful views on top of the bluffs. Once at the top we took about an hour to hike around the top looking at different views which enhanced all that was recently learned in the Visitor’s Center as well as just enjoying the landscape from this vantage point. As we finished taking in the sights on the bluff we decided a trip to check in at our hotel nearby and refresh after a long day of travel was in order along with dinner before returning to walk along the Oregon Trail as sunset engulfed the horizon.

Walking along the wagons of the Oregon Trail

As the air began to cool and the sun relented it’s midday power we returned to find the park shutting down for the day with only the parking lot left open to explore the Oregon Trail. A very humbling experience to walk along these wagons depicting the horse and ox drawn trains of people and all their belongings attempting to find a better life in the west. Difficult to imagine traveling about 20 miles a day and having to obtain food, water, and shelter each night for the many months it took to reach the western destinations. Certainly an evening such as this was one of the easier days to make this trip but these types of nights only lasted a few months. Not long enough to complete their journey.

Sunset over the Prairie

What a beautiful way to end another day along our journey west!


Agate Fossil Beds

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument one of the smallest national parks we’ve visited but an interesting place to explore with some surprising things to learn. Before finding this place because of the Monopoly board I had no idea that fossils have been found in this part of the Midwestern United States. Once again another pleasant surprise from our Monopoly adventures.

Some of the mammals fossils

This park requires only a few hours to explore but has much to offer for it’s size with information on the significance of the area for the Sioux as well as fossils to view both in the visitors center and along trails. In addition there are great views of the plains that make up large expanses of the landscape in western Nebraska.

Looking out at the vast prairie

One of the unique fossils which has been preserved in this national park are corkscrews dug deep into the earth by a type of land beaver that use to reside in these hills. When you see them you can’t help but wonder why they dug these burrows in the shape of a corkscrew. I question if it was to help them get in and out of their underground home. Maybe they couldn’t climb in and out of these deep holes any other way. Still, these corkscrews called, daemonelix or devil’s corkscrews, added a lot of steps each time entering and exiting these dens. A workout just to get up and go outside and retreat back into shelter. Probably worse than stairs in our houses.

There are fossils hiding in these hills