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Wyoming Wanderers: Wandering through history

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sarah Post
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

I think one of the best things about being stationed in Wyoming is the endless opportunities I have to explore the state and the neighboring states. To the east of Wyoming is Nebraska, which is home to Scotts Bluff National Monument. 

Scotts Bluff NM is a geological part of Nebraska’s history. The bluff was a landmark to travelers on the overland trails west, and got its name in 1828 when a fur trapper named Hiram Scott died at the base of the bluffs. The geological formation stands about 800 feet above the North Platte River and has exposed rocks dating back 22 to 33 million years, according to the National Park Service. 

Today the National Park Service has over 3,000 acres preserved and dedicated to Scotts Bluff. 

Scotts Bluff is in Gering and is a little over an hour and a half from base via Interstate 80. I took the longer and more scenic route up Route 25 North, then through some county roads, which was a little more than a two-hour drive. I got to the park and hiked the 1.6-mile Saddle Rock trail to the top of the monument. The trail winded back and forth, and I was able to see lots of different flowers, plants and birds. About half way into the hike, the trail gets very close to the bluff and I was able to see all of the different rock layers. The trail also goes through a tunnel under the monument before some switchbacks lead you to the top of the monument. At the top, I was able to see the town below, read signs that point out different significances of the bluff and see more geological formations in the surrounding area. 

After I hiked back down, I went inside the visitor center where there is a miniature museum dedicated to the history of Scotts Bluff. Visitors can walk to each station to read and learn, and there are some interactive sections, too. The visitor center also has a park ranger station for questions and information and park souvenirs. 

I finished my visit by driving up the Scotts Bluff Summit Road. The road was narrow with sharp curves and two tunnels leading to the top. The road leads to the same place the Saddle Rock Trail ends at. At the top of the summit road, there are coin operated binoculars and paths to tour the top of the bluff. 

Visitors can also take a geology hiking tour, a shuttle to the summit and participate in a Scotts Bluff ranger program. 

National Park, hiking, history and travel enthusiasts or anyone just looking to get out into nature should be able to enjoy visiting Scotts Bluff.