Four Sites of History and Nature in Nebraska
When you’re in America’s heartland, it’s hard to miss the stunning beauty. Steeped in the history of Native American’s and the expansion of the United States, the state has amazing spots to visit. We encourage you to visit the World’s Largest Ball of Stamps, made from around 4,000,000 stamps. It’s not a real road trip without seeing a roadside attraction. But, we’d be rendering you a disservice to point you toward museums or oddities before pointing you toward historical and environmental sites.
Nebraska Star Party
There is one “must see” event if you are visiting July 28 through August 2. The 26th Annual Nebraska Star Party will be held in the Merritt Reservoir’s Snake Campground. The event is perfect for anyone who loves the heavens, regardless of how informed you are. Beginner’s classes will teach you the basics of stargazing while being away from city lights that can obscure your view. You needn’t bring a telescope as a newcomer if you don’t have one; the organizers say many experienced people will happily share their telescope and passion. You can even learn what equipment you might be interested in purchasing when you are ready for a telescope of your own! They do advise you to bring binoculars to see the stars. The reservoir is an excellent spot with activities for the family. Learn more about the event.
There is a landmark of the Oregon Trail that shouldn’t be missed. The Lakota Sioux of the region called it a name that would be vulgar to say in polite company and so it was renamed to Chimney Rock. While you should see Chimney Rock, the monument must be viewed from a distance. Rattlesnake warning signs are all around the site, so hiking is not advised. Read reviews here.
Scotts Bluff National Monument
If you are interested in seeing the landscape of the Oregon Trail and want to be closer to the sights than you can be at Chimney Rock, head over to Scotts Bluff. With great views, beautiful hikes and knowledgeable park rangers, this park might be perfect for you. There’s wildlife to be seen and history to be learned. The visitor center has exhibits and a short film about the people who traveled on the Oregon Trail as well as the Native Americans who lived on the land. The climb is steep to the peak of the bluff. But, if that isn’t for you, you can take an easy drive to the top. Read reviews here.
Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park
If sites about the westward expansion don’t appeal to you, step back further in time to 12,000,000 years ago. Around that time, a volcano in southwest Idaho covered northeastern Nebraska with ash. While the animals in the area survived the initial event, their lungs filled with the powdered glass. Small animals died quickly, larger rhinoceroses and horses succumbed after three to five weeks. The fossils of these animals are beautifully preserved, including the contents of their stomachs. The fossils of deer, turtles, dogs, birds and more are all on display at the site. It is a currently operating dig site and visitors meet paleontologists who are still unearthing specimens. Many fossils remain in situ, allowing visitors to see where the animals fell. A barn was built around the fossils, which are labeled, to protect them. Taking any fossils or specimens is forbidden to preserve the site for future visitors. Learn more.
We hope you make a trip to Nebraska soon!