Two-Day Getaway in Nebraska’s Panhandle | Midwest Living
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Two-Day Getaway in Nebraska’s Panhandle

Stand where mammoths once stood, and follow the path of pioneers around Fort Robinson State Park.
Fort Robinson State Park.
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Trailside Museum of Natural History. Photo courtesy of Nebraska Tourism
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Jeep rides explore the buttes of Pine Ridge.
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Chimney Rock National Historic Site.
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Day 1

West of Crawford, Fort Robinson State Park provides a wide range of family activities on close to 22,000 acres. Get an overview of the site’s history—from the time of Crazy Horse to World War II—on horse-drawn wagon tours.

The Trailside Museum of Natural History showcases a pair of mammoth skeletons found with their tusks eternally locked in battle. 

Fort Robinson Restaurant serves bison burgers.

Narrated jeep rides explore the buttes of Pine Ridge before a hike to Cheyenne Buttes, the site of a massacre of Cheyenne.

Kids love the Chuckwagon Buffalo Stew Cookout with campfire sing-alongs.

The Post Playhouse puts on live musicals, and weekly summertime rodeos show off the locals’ skills.

The fort’s old cavalry barracks have been converted into motel-style rooms, and officers’ quarters now pull duty as rental cabins (from $50). Campers can choose from tent or RV sites (from $20).

Day 2

Chadron State Park and the Nebraska National Forest appear on the horizon like an expatriate mountain scene near Chadron (half an hour northeast of the fort).

An outstanding collection of artifacts makes it worth stopping at Museum of the Fur Trade, occupying the site of an 1837 trading posy.

Carhenge in Alliance rises resembles Stonehenge's famed monoliths with an automotive twist.

At Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, learn the history of the area's Native Americans and explore exhibits of past and present wildlife.

Nestled among grassy hills, the Hudson-Meng Bison Kill Research and Visitor Center lets guests get an up-close view of a massive spread of bison fossils in the spot where they fell.

Drifter Cookshack at High Plains Homestead, a small re-created cowtown near Crawford, serves BBQ pork ribs with cowboy beans, a baked potato and a moist towel—handy for wiping up barbecue-sauced fingers.

More information: (308) 665-2900; outdoornebraska.ne.gov/parks

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Chimney Rock Nebraska’s most famous physical feature stands out against the sky at Chimney Rock National Historic Site, just 4 miles south of Bayard. The 300-foot-tall spire served as a welcome landmark for pioneers migrating west. At the visitors center, guests learn how the stone pinnacle was formed and read diary entries made by settlers traveling the Oregon Trail. For a closer view, drive less than a mile west to the cemetery parking lot. (308) 586-2581; nebraskahistory.org/sites/rock

 

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