Contrary to creative guesses from Interstate-80 travelers, this isn’t a ski area, a butterfly pavilion or truly spectacular corncrib. It’s an imaginative shrine designed to gather natural light and offer sweeping views across the Platte River Valley. The windows also buffer visitors from the drone of traffic visible below. That’s what’s most noticeable when you step inside the large wooden doors: the hushed silence of a church.
An anonymous donor gave the Catholic Church more than $2 million to build the shrine, which opened on the 50-foot ridge in 2002. It draws up to 30,000 people a year. Some come here to pray, others use it as picturesque place stretch their legs while traveling along the interstate.
The 23-acre site may eventually include stations of the cross, but for now, a visit starts in an belowground center where water (representing baptism) drips from a artistic spiral into a small pool. Water from the pool wiggles across the floor to the outdoors and into the shrine like the ripple effect of goodwill toward others.
People who enjoy churches and architecture will get the most out of this shrine. For others, it’s a short stop on a road trip.
Admission is free; donations are welcome.