A Weekend in Western Nebraska
Western Nebraska offers attractions and activities for many interests: beautiful natural landscapes that include prairie, rugged badlands and rock formations; outdoor rec; a rich history and culture; small-town charm; and adventure sports like rock climbing and whitewater rafting. Get a taste of the region on a weekend getaway.
Related: Best Nebraska Road Trips
The archeologically packed Fossil Freeway leads to new appreciation of ancient times. Along the route: the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument (and its bizarre fossilized beardog) and the Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center, where prehistoric people captured and killed countless bison near Crawford. (As of early 2023, the center itself is closed, but you can still take a one-third mile interpretive trail from the parking lot to learn about the area.)
Toadstool Geological Park in Harrison displays otherworldly formations carved by badland erosion.
Cowboy culture rules at Crawford's High Plains Homestead, with rustic cabins and RV park. A mercantile offers snacks for sale as well as locally crafted goods.
Beads, knives, kettles—even playing cards—\-illustrate the world of early trade at Museum of the Fur Trade, built at the site of an 1837 trading post in Chadron.
The world of exploration awaits as well, with hiking at the western portion of the Nebraska National Forest near Chadron and the boundless Oglala National Grassland north of Crawford. Pronghorn deer and prairie dogs make occasional appearances along the way.
More Parks to Explore
Extend your western Nebraska adventure with an overnight stay (or longer) at two of Nebraska's most outstanding state parks.
Chadron State Park
Rugged buttes, stone cliffs and dead-end canyons beckon horseback riders, hikers and mountain bikers to follow winding trails through Nebraska's oldest state park (established in 1921). Back at camp, cabins and swimming pools repay a day's journey.
Fort Robinson State Park
Why imagine the Old West when you can live it instead at Fort Robinson? Buildings from as far back as 1874 (when the original fort existed) remain in use, many for lodging. Stagecoaches tour the impressive buttes. Bison and bighorn sheep graze the 22,000 acres. And the mountainous Pine Ridge scenery creates a timeless backdrop for paddling, golfing or gazing into the past.