Remembering the fond days of sitting in the computer lab starting at the green screen of the Apple IIE and watching Johnny get diphtheria. Ahh the days spent on the Oregon Trail. Getting the chance to see some of those landmarks at Scotts Bluff National Monument was a real treat for me. Yes, I am a history buff. However, a non-history loving person can enjoy the area and the fine views from a top of the bluffs.
Scotts Bluff National Monument rises above the surrounding landscape. Sitting 800 feet above the North Platte River. The bluffs served as a visual landmark for the countless number of people heading West. Emigrants on the Mormon Trail, California, and the famous Oregon Trail all used it as a visual stepping stone. It is amazing to think about the sacrifice, the hardship and blinding faith those pioneers needed in their path west. Heck we get upset if the WIFI is slow. Imagining the day to day struggle those early settlers faced is unimaginable in our convenience driven lifestyle.
I knew that the Scotts Bluff National Monument area was rich in western history. What I did not know was that it is also a rich fossil area. The visitor center had several examples of prehistoric bones located in the national monument. The visitor center does a good job explaining all of the Scotts Bluff National Monument history.
There are a few short hikes in the monument two at the rim, the Oregon Trail Pathway complete with wagon ruts. The best trail at the Scotts Bluff National Monument was the Saddle Rock Trail. Unfortunately, that trail has been closed since a rock slide in 2015. Half of the trail can be completed from the bottom while from the top you can walk part way down before it is closed. I talked to one of the volunteer rangers that was there and there was no time table on when it will reopen if ever.
While there I highly recommend driving to the top of Scotts Bluff or taking the free shuttle ride up. The view overlooking the Platt and the town below is scenic. I find it important to think about the sacrifices those before us undertook to seek a better life. It really puts into prospective the small problems I face in my truly blessed life.
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Scotts Bluff National Monument
Located at 190276 Old Oregon Trail Rd Gering NE
Hours of Operation The grounds are open from sunrise to sunset while the visitor center has more limited hours
Cost as of this Posting $5 per vehicle or $3 per motorcycle or person
For more information visit the Scotts Bluff National Monument website at https://www.nps.gov/scbl/index.htm