Whether you're hoping to catch sight of the annual Sandhill crane migration or you just want to stretch your legs after a long day of travel on I-80, Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center makes a pleasant stop. Inside this easy to get to spot are educational exhibits featuring cranes and other wildlife, a gift shop stocked with Nebraska and bird-theme items, and an art gallery full of photographs and paintings.
Visitors can hike (for free) 7 miles of trails that traverse 240 acres of prairie, forest and wetland. The first section of trail and the footbridge overlooking the Platte River are handicapped accessible. The center is open year-round, but most visitors converge in March and early April when more than 80 percent of the world's Sandhill cranes migrate along the river between here and Kearney, Nebraska. The birds stay for about three weeks, flying in at sunset and out after sunrise to eat waste grain in local cornfields. Tours and viewing blinds are available during the migration ($10 to $25). Kids must be older than 12 to participate.
Because the cranes’ journey takes them westward, the National Audubon Society's Rowe Sanctuary and the Fort Kearney State Recreation Area also offer good vantage points for viewing.