Around Scottsbluff, western Nebraska’s largest town, natural attractions and state parks stud the former frontier. Escape to a Wild West landscape of grasslands and buttes.
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Scotts Bluff National Monument
Scotts Bluff National Monument
| Credit: Blaine Moats

Badlands, big skies and a surprising spread of pine forests draw visitors through the Sandhills to the Panhandle in northwestern Nebraska.

Turn north off Interstate-80 at Grand Island to begin what is an antidote to the interstate treadmill. Follow the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway for 272 miles past the grass-covered dunes rolling through central Nebraska. At the endpoint in Alliance, head north on the Gold Rush Byway toward the college town of Chadron.

Near Chadron, the forests and buttes of the Pine Ridge region rise up from the Sandhills like an expatriate mountain scene that encompasses Chadron State Park and the Nebraska National Forest (yes, there is such a thing). Thirty miles west of Chadron, Fort Robinson State Park entertains and educagtes with Jeep tours, horseback rides, Broadway-style shows and lodgings in old cavalry quarters.

Do

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

Learn the history of the area's Native Americans and about past and present wildlife at the Agate Fossil Beds 47 miles north of Scottsbluff.

Carhenge Alliance Nebraska
Carhenge
| Credit: Julia Vandenoever

Carhenge

A formation of gray metal—39 vintage automobiles mimicking the rocks of Stonehenge—rises from the Sandhills in Alliance, 54 miles northeast of Scottsbluff.

Chadron State Park Nebraska
Chadron State Park. Photo courtesy of D. Curran.
| Credit: D. Curran

Chadron State Park

Climb into the pine forests of northwest Nebraska on foot, horseback or mountain bike for sweeping views. The park's many amenities include tennis and sand volleyball courts, historical programs, a pool, 22 cabins, and a campground.

Chimney Rock Nebraska Panhandle
Chimney Rock
| Credit: Courtesy of Nebraska Tourism

Chimney Rock

The 325-foot spire, a navigation point for pioneers, pierces the sky near the North Platte River (24 miles southeast of Scottsbluff). The museum explores and explains the site's significance.

Fort Robinson State Park Nebraska
Fort Robinson State Park
| Credit: Blaine Moats

Fort Robinson State Park

Pine-topped bluffs frame the site where the Indian Wars were fought, Crazy Horse died and soldiers trained for World War I. Explore the 22,000-acre park (3 miles west of Crawford) by Jeep, stagecoach ride or horseback; other activities include musicals, rodeos, kayak rides, swimming and steak cookouts.

Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center

An interpretive trail encourages visitors to ponder what researchers are still trying to understand: Why did hundreds of bison die at this northwest Nebraska site about 10,000 years ago? Outdoor areas are open; check website for updates on education center and indoor exhibits.

Legend Buttes Golf Course

Play a scenic nine holes at the base of the bluffs west of Crawford.

Scotts Bluff National Monument

A short hike up leads to 90-mile views from the bluff 800 feet above the North Platte River; visitors can also drive to the top of Scotts Bluff, an important landmark along the Oregon Trail journey.

Toadstool Geologic Park

A mini version of South Dakota's Badlands holds unusual geologic formations, some shaped like toadstools. Interpretive trails give insight into the area.

Chadron, Nebraska
Bean Broker
| Credit: Courtesy of Bean Broker Coffee House and Pub

Eat and Drink

Bean Broker Coffee House and Pub

Grab a coffee or linger over cocktails and the daily special at a cozy space in an old Chadron bank.

The Mixing Bowl

The breakfast and lunch cafe in Gering serves up biscuits and gravy, burgers on homemade buns, and pastries.

The Tangled Tumbleweed

Enjoy a tapas-style menu (baked Brie, avocado toast, prime rib skillet) along with craft beer, wine and pretzels at this destination dining spot in Scottsbluff. An outdoor patio encourages lingering.

Stay

High Plains Homestead

The glampground and RV park provide a rugged escape for people who appreciate a starry sky, about 20 miles north of Fort Robinson State Park. Activities include hunting and mountain biking. 

Ponderosa Ranch

This spread with cabins near Crawford caters to visitors who want to hunt wild turkeys and deer. Also, get great photos of trains in the forested bluffs.

For more information visit chadron.com or visitscottsbluff.com