Nature-lovers are haunted by stories of what was: the bison herds, the virgin prairie, the passenger pigeons. But each spring in central Nebraska brings a new chance to see wildlife in a spectacle as epic as it always has been. Starting around mid-March, half a million Sandhill cranes stop to rest and feed along the Platte River between roughly Grand Island and North Platte. Just like in the old tales, they darken the sky as they come and go from the river, their croaking voices drowning out conversation. Best of all, because Interstate-80 parallels the Platte, this bucket-list natural event is no harder to reach than a coffee shop.
Plan a memorable crane tour
Reserve a spot before sunrise or sunset in Rowe Sanctuary’s viewing blinds 19 miles east of Kearney. You’ll need to bundle up and be quiet, but the two-hour experience leads to great photos and videos.
While you’re in Kearney
Stretching over I-80, The Archway shares the story of western migration in gripping ways that both kids and adults enjoy. The Classic Car Collection gives free self-guided iPad tours of 190 beautifully preserved rides. Funky The Flippin’ Sweet serves pillowy pizzas with funny names (like the Goodfella, topped with meats). Stay in spacious, comfy guest rooms at the Best Western Plus Mid Nebraska Inn and Suites (from $119).
For more information or to plan your trip: (800) 652-9435; visitkearney.org