From wild bison to dinosaur fossils, and train-yard museums to go-kart tracks, Western Nebraska provides excellent options for memorable family vacations.
Two-and-a-half miles north of Alliance on Highway 87, Carhenge is perhaps the strangest attraction in Nebraska. The full-scale replica of England’s famous Stonehenge is built entirely from old cars. Carhenge is built from 38 cars, painted gray.
Dusty Trails LLCNorth Platte Area
Dusty Trails is the ideal location for outdoor adventure. Providing opportunities for horseback riding, tanking, tubing, canoeing, or kayaking down the North Platte River. At the end of the day there is always the option of the petting zoo.
Fort Robinson State ParkCrawford Area
Fort Robinson State Park is one of Nebraska’s most popular attractions. Visitors can enjoy cookouts, trail rides, hiking, and a summer repertory theater at the Post Playhouse. Fort Robinson is open mid-April through mid-November. A state park permit is required.
Golden Spike TowerNorth Platte Area
In 1995, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard as the world’s largest railroad classification yard. It has since grown by 25 percent. It stretches eight miles and covers nearly 3,000 acres. More than 15,000 cars pass through daily.
Hudson-Meng Education & Research CenterHarrison Area
Albert Meng and Bill Hudson discovered ancient bones belonging to more than 600 bison. Nearly 50 years later, Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center is open to the public and the 10,000-year-old bones are still being studied. Open mid-May through September.
Legacy of the Plains MuseumGering Area
Located on the Oregon Trail, the Legacy of the Plains Museum features an impressive newly renovated exhibit hall featuring hands-on interactives; collections of pioneer and early community artifacts, antique tractors, and farm implements. All with striking views of ScottsBluff National Monument.
Museum of the Fur TradeChadron Area
The Museum of the Fur Trade is located at the site of a trading post operated by the American Fur Company from 1837 to 1876. The museum’s three galleries interpret the fur trade from early colonial days to the 20th century. The museum is open May 1 - Oct. 31 or by appointment.
Nebraska National Forest – Bessey Ranger DistrictHalsey Area
This district of the Nebraska National Forest covers more than 90,000 acres, and is the largest hand-planted forest in the world. It is a favorite place for camping, ATV-ing, horseback riding, hiking and picnicking. The lookout tower offers a panoramic view of the surrounding forest and hills.
Nebraska National Forest – Pine Ridge Ranger DistrictChadron Area
South of Chadron and surrounding nearby Crawford are approximately 80 miles of trails in the largest section of Nebraska’s National Forest. The 140,000 acres of the Pine Ridge Ranger District include breathtaking hiking, biking and horseback-riding through wide-open spaces.
Our Heritage Guest RanchCrawford Area
Sixteen miles northwest of Crawford and a quick jump from Toadstool Geologic Park is Our Heritage Guest Ranch. Riding lessons are available and there are 26 indoor stalls, and several paddocks and corrals to board horses. The rides take you over 3,600 acres abundant with wildlife.
Riverside Discovery CenterScottsbluff Area
Less than a 4 mile drive from the Scottsbluff National Monument, the Riverside Discovery Center is a fun family friendly Zoo that is open year round. It also has a splash pad that is open in the summer, a dino dig play area and petting zoo. It is AZA accredited and the only Zoo in Western Nebraska.
The Mammoth Site
Just north of the Nebraska border, North America’s most fascinating Ice Age treasures can be found at the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, South Dakota. Visitors will be treated to a tour of the world’s largest mammoth research facility and experience an active paleontological dig site.
Agate Fossil Beds National MonumentHarrison Area
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is home to an important collection of Native American artifacts. Visitors can walk among the fossils of ancient animals. Located 22 miles south of Harrison or 34 miles north of Mitchell on Highway 29.
Arthur Bowring Ranch State Historical ParkValentine Area
Arthur Bowring Ranch State Historical Park is a 7,202-acre ranch. Buildings and grounds are open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. The grounds are open from 9 a.m. to sunset the rest of the year.
Buffalo Bill State Historical ParkNorth Platte Area
Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park showcases the restored 1880s Victorian home, horse barn and outbuildings of William F. Cody’s famous Scout’s Rest Ranch. The site features Wild West Show memorabilia, period household furnishings, picnic areas and walking trails.
Dobby’s Frontier TownAlliance Area
Dobby’s Frontier Town, is a historic village with buildings from the 1890s through Prohibition. Kenneth “Dobby” Lee lamented the decay of early frontier buildings, so he began hauling them to his Alliance home to save them. The buildings include a general store, log cabin, saloon and more!
Fort Cody Trading PostNorth Platte Area
When viewed from the outside it looks like a frontier log stockade complete with authentically-dressed mannequins with toy rifles standing guard. Inside it’s a combination gift shop and museum, with authentic Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild West memorabilia, and a miniature mechanized Wild West Show.
Knight Museum & Sandhills CenterAlliance Area
Displays at the 19,000-square-foot Knight Museum and Sandhills Center span many aspects of western life, including an extensive display of Native American artifacts, railroad memorabilia, military history, homestead and ranch life, and the various cultures who shaped the area.
Lincoln County Historical MuseumNorth Platte Area
The North Platte Canteen is commemorated at the Lincoln County Historical Museum. The World War II canteen met every train and fed the service men and women who passed through the depot – about 6 million in all. The museum also features a village of historic buildings.
Potter’s PastureNorth Platte Area
More than 20 miles of challenging trails for explorers of all endurance levels twist and wind through the hills. There are around 40 “official” trails here. All-terrain vehicles are prohibited. Camping and fun are allowed and encouraged.
Robidoux Trading PostGering Area
The sod-roofed building has been reconstructed with 100-year-old hand-hewn logs and period furnishings. It is located in beautiful Carter Canyon, on the original Oregon Trail route before travelers began using Mitchell Pass, known to settlers as Devil’s Gap.
Scottsbluff National MonumentGering Area
Scotts Bluff is what remains of the ancient High Plains that were eroded by rivers over millions of years. The uniquely Nebraskan formation is part of the scenic Wildcat Hills. Fossilized remains of ancient rhinoceroses, horses, camels and other prehistoric creatures have been discovered here.
Toadstool Geologic ParkHarrison Area
Toadstool Geologic Park is regarded as a strange landscape within the grassland. Sediment layers deposited by ancient volcanoes have eroded at different rates, leaving sandstone formations perched on clay stems. Early residents referred to the formations as toadstools.
Wildcat Hills State Recreation AreaGering Area
This 531-acre park 10 miles south of Gering offers stunning panoramic views of the North Platte River Valley and 3 miles of trails. The rugged terrain is challenging and elevations approach 5,000 feet. A newly renovated nature center offers educational opportunities, interactive exhibits, and more.