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See Nebraska's greatest natural, cultural and engineering marvels

  • Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska

    Nebraska's natural, cultural and engineering marvels

    Every spring, a monumental event occurs in Nebraska. The Cornhusker State becomes the centerpiece of the great sandhill crane migration, attracting visitors from across the country. But there’s more to this Midwestern state than birdwatching and endless prairies. From the toadstool-shaped hoodoos in northwestern Nebraska to the bluffs and badlands along the river, natural beauty abounds. People take pride in the state’s pioneering past and the engineering marvels that reflect the enduring spirit and legacy of those who settled from the far corners of the world. Take a journey through the natural, cultural and man-made marvels that prove Nebraska is much more than just a flyover state.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Nebraska

  • Sandhill Crane Migration, Grand Island

    Sandhill crane migration, Grand Island

    With their slender legs, long necks and red crown patch, the sandhill cranes are stunning, especially during their mating dance. Every year, nearly half a million cranes stop over in Nebraska to rest and feed during their pilgrimage from southern North America to Canada and as far west as Siberia. In February and March, find thousands of birds roosting on Platte’s sandbars and shallow waters, with their rattling calls filling the air. Stay overnight at Crane Trust in Grand Island to witness this great animal migration at sunset and sunrise.  

    Photo courtesy of Lavanya Sunkara

  • Bailey Yard, North Platte

    Bailey Yard, North Platte

    Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard is the largest railroad classification yard in the world. Every day, the yard caters to approximately 10,000 rail cars that need to be sorted and paired with the right trains to continue across the country. From the Golden Spike Tower observation deck, get panoramic views of the yard and admire the Tetris skills of train operators, as they maneuver cars remotely to get them over the “hump” yard to fall into the track where they belong.

     

    Photo courtesy of Lavanya Sunkara

  • Durham Museum, Omaha

    Durham Museum, Omaha

    Housed in a former Union Station building, Durham Museum is a time capsule of a bygone era, with its Art Deco style and restored rail cars from the late 1800s and early 1900s. This National Historic Landmark opened in 1931 and is a work of art, with terrazzo floors, cathedral glass windows and bronze sculptures of passengers. This Smithsonian-affiliated museum houses permanent and traveling exhibits on topics ranging from science to culture. Stop by the authentic soda fountain to enjoy a malt before you leave.

    Photo courtesy of Lavanya Sunkara

  • Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, Grand Island

    Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, Grand Island

    Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer is a living history museum telling the story of settlers and Native Americans through art galleries, artifacts and recreations. Spanning 200 acres, the museum features several buildings, including the stunning main Stuhr building, designed by renowned architect Edward Durell Stone. The 1890s Railroad Town has costumed interpreters recreating the prairie community. Other attractions include an antique farm machinery exhibit, Native American and Old West Collection in the Gus Fonner Memorial Rotunda and a Log Cabin Settlement with eight structures from the 1850s-60s.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Nebraska

  • Arbor Day Farm, Nebraska City

    Arbor Day Farm, Nebraska City

    As the birthplace of the tree planter’s holiday, Nebraska attracts nature lovers and families to the Arbor Day Farm, where 260 acres of forested trails, gardens an arboretum and other natural attractions await. J. Sterling Morton founded Arbor Day in 1872 to encourage tree planting and inspire conservation. It's estimated that one million trees were planted on the first Arbor Day. Morton’s original orchards and other trees are preserved in the Tree Adventure attraction, along with original structures on his estate, which is now a National Historic Landmark.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Nebraska

  • Kearney Crane Watch

    Platte River, Kearney

    Known for being a mile wide and an inch deep, Platte River is the country’s longest braided river. This ribbon of water, formed in western Nebraska by the confluence of the North and South Platte Rivers, guided emigrants. It attracts visitors to North Platte, Kearney and Grand Island for the spring extravaganza of the sandhill crane migration. Though diverted for irrigation, power generation and flood control, the remaining waters provide cranes shallow waters to feed. The river is also popular for tanking, kayaking and fishing.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Nebraska

  • The Archway, Kearney

    The Archway, Kearney

    In celebration of the Great Platte River Road that led gold seekers, missionaries and settlers through Nebraska, the Archway Monument takes visitors on a journey through 170 years. Spanning I-80 with cars whizzing by underneath, the two-floor structure makes for a great educational stop. From the Oregon and Mormon Trail eras and the competition between the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads, all the way to the age of cars, take it in with interactive audio, dioramas, murals and mannequins of those who lived in and passed through the Great Plains.  

    Photo courtesy of Visit Nebraska

  • Toadstool Geological Park, Harrison

    Toadstool Geological Park, Harrison

    In the middle of the Oglala National Grasslands in far northwestern Nebraska, eroded sandstone rock formations and ancient fossils abound at Toadstool Geologic Park, which sits in the bed of a river that flowed millions of years ago. The terrain’s toadstool-shaped hoodoos give the park its name. Explore the park on a one-mile interpretive loop trail, scramble over boulders and go in search of the fossilized remains of prehistoric animals. Take the Bison Trail at the halfway point in the loop and continue to Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Nebraska

  • Carhenge, Alliance

    Carhenge, Alliance

    For a less-touristy alternative to Stonehenge, visit Carhenge in the city of Alliance on the western edge of the Sandhills. After having lived in England, Jim Reinders decided to build a replica of Stonehenge with cars placed in the same positions as the mysterious rocks. With help from his family, he managed to bring together 39 spray-painted old cars in a circle measuring 96 feet. Some of the cars were held upright with their trunks in five-foot deep pits and others were welded in place to form arches. Carhenge opened on the summer solstice of 1987.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Nebraska

  • Scotts Bluff National Monument, Gering

    Scotts Bluff National Monument, Gering

    Rising 800 feet above the Platte River, Scotts Bluff served as a landmark and resting place for emigrants and Native Americans. More than 200,000 people passed through the area in the mid-19th century, pausing to admire the bluff. The rich prairie and fragile lands came under protection in 1919. The Scotts Bluff National Monument museum contains exhibits on the area’s natural and human history, featuring watercolor paintings by William Henry Jackson. A drive to the summit yields views of the North Platte River Valley, Chimney Rock and Laramie Peak.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Nebraska

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