Sandhills & Scenic Rivers

Sandhills and Scenic Rivers of Nebraska

You'll find sand hills on almost every continent on this planet, but you’ll only find the Sandhills in Nebraska. In reality, they are the largest stabilized sand dunes in the Western Hemisphere, but drive on through and your jaw may drop down to Kansas as these towering grassy hills become endless waves rolling in from the Pacific. Running through its northern shores is the precious Niobrara River, a siren’s call to anyone who has ever put a paddle to water, and recognized as one of the 10 best canoeing rivers in the United States.  

Two more beautiful rivers offer excellent paddling adventures, the Dismal River and the Middle Loup River

Hills become tidal waves, and human hands made the largest planted forest in the world in the Bessey Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forest. There is Valentine, where rodeo lovers rejoice, and romantics seek its address on that most heartfelt of days. And in a friendly place called Alliance, there is a frontier village built by a guy named Dobby, and at Carhenge, a legion of cars have been turned into a replica of Stonehenge. There are pristine lakes, heavenly ranches and fantastic golf. It all seems like fantasy, but there is no show more real than 19,000 square miles of paradise rising up as Sandhills and Scenic Rivers Country.

Carhenge
Carhenge
Nebraska's Version of Stonehenge

Visit Nebraska's Version of Stonehenge. It's called Carhenge! 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. Local resident Jim Reinders g

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Knight Museum & Sandhills Center
Knight Museum & Sandhills Center

Nebraska Memorabilia and Genealogy in Alliance 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 from the Indian Wars to Alliance’s Wor

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Sand Hills Golf Club
Sand Hills Golf Club

Golf in the Geographic Heat of the Sandhills Mullen sits at the geographic heart of the Sandhills. For a region known for its striking beauty, it’s appropriate that one of the world’s best golf courses stretches out across the land here. Sand Hills Golf Club is an 18-hole private golf c

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Middle Loup River - Canoes, Kayaks & Stock Tanks
Middle Loup River - Canoes, Kayaks & Stock Tanks

Float the Middle Loup River People looking for a family-friendly river trip can float or paddle down the Middle Loup River just north of Mullen. The Middle Loup also is spring-fed and has relatively calm waters as it meanders through wide, sloping Sandhills canyons. Canoe and kayak rental is avai

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Nebraska National Forest
Nebraska National Forest

Largest Hand-Planted Forest in the World For the westbound traveler, Highway 2, the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway, heads northwest from Grand Island, passes the Nebraska National Forest at Halsey, crosses the lake country of the western Sandhills, then exits the region near Alliance and turns no

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Dobby's Frontier Town
Dobby's Frontier Town

Photo by Christopher Amundson   Give Pioneer Life a Try Dobby’s Frontier Town, 320 E. 25th St., 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 A

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Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge
Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge

Bison, Elk, Birdwatching and Canoeing Five miles east of Valentine on Highway 12, Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge is home to dust-raising herds of bison and elk. A 3.5-mile driving tour provides up close views. The bison are often encountered crossing the refuge road. While near the herds,

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Avenue of Flags
Avenue of Flags

Hemingford Flies Hundreds of American Flags Hemingford displays more than 200 American flags along its village streets during various holidays, such as July 4th weekend, Flag Day, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and others. Each historic flag once draped the casket of a veteran from the area, som

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Carnegie Arts Center
Carnegie Arts Center

Public Sculpture Garden in Alliance The Carnegie Arts Center is a gallery featuring local and regional artists. This center hosts renowned art shows such as installations of original Rembrandt and Albrecht Durer prints. It is housed in a historic 1911 building at 204 W. Fourth St. Open 10 a.m.-4

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World's Smallest Courthouse
World's Smallest Courthouse

The World's Smallest Courthouse is in Nebraska About 40 miles west of Tryon on Highway 92, Arthur is the only town and county seat of Arthur County. The ranching town boasts what is believed to be the world’s smallest courthouse. The 26-by-28-foot white frame building was built a year after A

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Arthur Bowring Ranch State Historical Park
Arthur Bowring Ranch State Historical Park

Celebrate West Nebraska Cattle Ranching The history of Sandhills ranch life is on display at Arthur Bowring Ranch State Historical Park, a 7,202-acre ranch located three miles north and east of Merriman off Highway 20. Former U.S. Senator Eve Bowring managed the ranch until her death in 1985 at a

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Dismal River Club - Jack Nicklaus Golf Course
Dismal River Club - Jack Nicklaus Golf Course

Mullen Golf Course Designed by Jack Nicklaus The Nebraska Sandhills are also home to the world-class Dismal River Golf Club. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, this is links golf: rugged, windblown, hard and fast. The course is located two miles south and 17 miles southwest of Mullen. (308) 546-2900. Mulle

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Box Butte Reservoir
Box Butte Reservoir

Box Butte Reservoir on the Niobrara River Box Butte Reservoir, a 1,600-acre lake and recreational area, is 10 miles north of town. It offers excellent fishing, boating, swimming, windsurfing and sailing, and is part of a state recreation area with picnic areas, hiking and primitive camping. (308

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Niobrara National Scenic River
Niobrara National Scenic River

Nebraska's Best River to Canoe The “Heart City” is near the Niobrara National Scenic River. Outfitters provide everything needed for fun floating. Five miles east of Valentine on Highway 12, bison and elk roam Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge. Attractions include, Smith Falls, Merrit

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Box Butte Avenue
Box Butte Avenue

Alliance Offers Historic Main Street Attractions Alliance’s downtown brick-lined main street, Box Butte Avenue, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is an active Historic Main Street organization. There are numerous shops, restaurants and other businesses in the downtown

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Dismal River Paddling - Canoe & Kayak
Dismal River Paddling - Canoe & Kayak

Canoe and Kayak the Dismal River.  It's Fun! Experienced canoers and kayakers can test their skills on the Dismal River south of Mullen. The Dismal is a fast-flowing, spring-fed river with plenty of twists and sunken debris that make it a natural obstacle course. Along the trip, canoers and ka

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Frederick Peak Golf Course
Frederick Peak Golf Course

New Golf Club Valentine Valentine has a new 10-hole public course opening during the summer of 2016. Frederick Peak is set in scenic hills and was designed by golfing legend Tom Lehman. The origin of the name of the landmark peak north of Valentine is uncertain. One tale recounts a settler by

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