There’s more to do in Nebraska than you can imagine. Follow in the footsteps of the great explorers, pioneers, and Plains Indians. Discover wildlife from the prairie and from around the world. Get in touch with the area’s rich cultural heritage at one of the many summer festivals.
Tap into the state’s natural wonders and sleep out under the stars. Take a look at Nebraska’s to-do list. You’re guaranteed to find a few must-dos for yourself.
As the trickle of pioneer wagons grew to a flood, military posts were built to protect pioneers from plains tribes becoming increasingly irritated with their unwelcome visitors. Fort Kearny (6 miles south of the city of Kearney) was the first of those strongholds, built in 1848. Civil War General Robert E. Lee served there as a young Army officer.
You can imagine that era as you walk among the reconstructed buildings of Fort Kearny State Historical Park. Learn more about the Fort’s colorful history at the visitors center. Unwind on the hiking/biking trail across the Platte River within Fort Kearny State Recreation Area.
Web: Fort Kearny Historical Park (https://www.nps.gov/oreg/planyourvisit/fort-kearny.htm)
The westward trails also opened the Nebraska Territory to settlement, increasing conflicts with the plains tribes. More forts went up to keep the peace.
About 70 miles north of the city of Kearney, Fort Hartsuff protected the North Loup River Valley. Five original buildings still stand at Fort Harstuff State Historical Park.
Fort Robinson was established in 1874 (75 miles north of the city of Scottsbluff). The cavalry base in the rugged Pine Ridge country of northwest Nebraska played a crucial role in the conflict with the Sioux and Cheyenne. Renowned Oglala Sioux warrior Crazy Horse was killed there while in custody in 1877. The Fort also protected travelers on the stagecoach and wagon trail narrowing north from the
Union Pacific railhead in Sidney to Black Hills gold mines near Deadwood, South Dakota. Visitors at Fort Robinson State Park can overnight in converted officers’ quarters. You can hike and bike a network of trails that probe the pine scented bluffs. Or, explore on horseback, by narrated Jeep tours, or in a stagecoach.
Fort Robinson State Park 3200 US Hwy 20 Crawford, NE
Anglers fish for trout in the spring-fed waters of the White River, and golfers try their skills on the course in nearby Crawford. In the evening, guests gather around the fire for sing-alongs and buffalo stew cookouts , view a melodrama in the Post Playhouse, or don cowboy hats to watch a rodeo. The park is open year-round. Lodging is available mid-April through mid-November.
What to do / Sightseeing
- The Oregon National Historic Trail thru Nebraska (see the NPS Interactive Map of The Oregon National Historic Trail with historic site along the trail including further web resources)
- Hiking, Biking, and Horseback Riding
- Great Platte River Road
- Great Platte River Road Archway (see further below)
- Captivating Cranes (see further below)
- The Pony Express (see further below)
- ‘Carhenge’ near Alliance (see further below)
- Lake McConaughy
State Data & Essentials
Nebraska – State Abbr.: NE
– Statehood Ranking: 37
76,872 square miles (199,091 qkm)
– Land Area Ranking: 15
1,82 Mio (2010 Census); 1,711,263 (2000 Census)
The Cornhusker State
Equality before the law
1.653 m / 5,423 ft (Kimball County)
146 m / 479 ft (Missouri River)
Mountain Standard Time (GMT-7hrs, MEZ-8hrs) in the western part of the state as well as Central Standard Time (GMT-6hrs, MEZ-7hrs) in eastern parts of the state
Daylight Saving Time: yes
Pioneer settlers joked that the Platte River was too thick to drink and too thin to plow. But sandhill cranes and their cousins, the rare whooping cranes, consider the shallow, sandy-bottomed river paradise. Each spring, from late February through early April, a migrating squadron of cranes a half-million strong glides into the river valley.
It’s one of North America’s last and most dramatic wildlife spectacles. You’ll find most of the yard-high birds strutting in and near river shallows between Grand Island and North Platte in central Nebraska. However, the cranes range as far west as Lake McConaughy in the Panhandle Region.
Odds are, if you travel I-80 across Nebraska during the peak viewing season, you’ll see thousands of birds without leaving your car. For a close-up look, serious crane-watchers rise before dawn and hide in blinds to see the birds dance and to hear them chatter on the river’s sand islands.
The Pony Express
In 1860, the first Pony Express rider raced across the valley’s dusty trails with mail for a growing population out West. Telegraph line strung along the route in 1861 rendered the riders obsolete, and Wells Fargo stagecoaches began bumping along the valley bound from Omaha to Sacramento.
Yet, the bravery of the Pony Express riders and the adventurous spirit of the enterprise still captures our imaginations. Billy Cody, who became the famous Buffalo Bill, was known as a skilled Pony Express rider at age 14.
The riders’ glory lives on at two Pony Express stations in Gothenburg (40 miles east of the city of North Platte). In sharp contrast to its frontier origins, one of the stations has been enveloped by a city park. The log cabin served as a trading post, ranch house, and stagecoach stop. The Midway Stage Pony Express station still stands on its original location on the Oregon Trail at the Lower 96 Ranch four miles south of Gothenburg. Protected by a second roof, it retains its original form and is part of the privately owned ranch. It is open to visitors on a limited basis.
Midway Station is on private property south of town.
Carhenge – Art made of cars
‘Carhenge’ follows its role model Stonehenge is is made of cars instead of huge rocks.
Don’t know what else there is to tell about this artwork. If you like it then you might want to visit a similar place which is the ‘Cadillac Ranch’ near Amarillo, Texas.
Carhenge is located in West Nebraska north of the town of Alliance.
Address: 2141 County Road 59, Alliance, NE 69301
Great Platte River Road Archway
The Great Platte River Road Archway is a bridge that pays tribute to the perseverance and ingenuity that developed our wonderfully diverse culture and dynamic American heritage and future.
Read more in our article about: the Great Platte River Road, Pony Express, Oregon Trail, Chimney Rock, and Scotts Bluff National Monument