Established in 1919, Scottsbluff National Monument protects an important landmark along the Oregon Trail, California Trail, and Pony Express Trail. It was one of the most referenced landmarks in diaries and journals of travels along the trails.
- 1 About Scotts Bluff National Monument
- 2 Things To Do
- 3 Basic Information
- 4 Places to Stay Scotts Bluff NM
- 5 Getting There
About Scotts Bluff National Monument
“Go West, young man, and grow up with the country“— Horace Greeley
Westward Expansion is one of the most significant times in US history. Many various wagons and emigrants traveled along trails looking for opportunity, land, and new life. There were certainly conflicts with the native population which is too broad to discuss here. But, regardless the expansion was a profound time.
Scotts Bluff discusses much of this history, in particular in relation to various important trails like the Oregon and California Trails. The Bluffs were also important landmarks for native populations in the area as well.
The Bluff itself served as an important landmark for travelers going west and important good and news trading area.
The Bluff itself is named for Hiram Scott who was a clerk for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company and died near the monument in 1828. The area actually has two bluffs, South Bluff, and North Bluff (Scotts Bluff). The local name for the bluff was Meapate (“the hill that is hard to go around.”).
The passage between the bluffs became the main traverse in 1851 and years later in 1887 the nearby town of Gering was founded near the base of the bluff. Once the permanent settlement came, the bluff became more of a tourist attraction than a landmark on a longer voyage.
Things To Do
Drive the Summit Road
This is one of the best and quickest things to do in Scotts Bluff and drive the summit road. It was also the first paved road in the state of Nebraska!
The road is 1.6 miles and has a variety of overlooks and a few tunnels you need to pass through. Because of that there are restrictions in that
- No Trailers are allowed
- Vehicles must not be longer than 25 feet and less than 11 feet 7 inches high.
The road does close on occasion, so you can find this information at the visitor center or by calling (308) 436-9700.
There are several hiking trails within the monument that could be worth your time if you have time to spare in the national monument. There are 4 miles of trails including the summit trail and saddle rock trail. The trails give you an alternative to taking the above Summit Road.
Be careful and watch for snakes on the trail and also be wary of any hot days. It can be very hot on the trails during the summer months.
Rangers host regular programs at Scotts Bluff National Monument on various aspects of the site and history. The vast majority of these programs take place during the summer months, when the site is open for extended hours as well.
- Summit Stroll: Weekend days at 10:30 am at the summit parking lot. Discussion around plants, geology on the walk around the summit area
- Bluffs Banter: Located on the lawn by the Visitor Center. Daily between 1:30 and 2:30 pm, and additionally on weekends from 10:15 to 11:15, rangers talk about the geology, plants, and works by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC).
- Emigrant Experience: Meets at the Wagon that is located on the Oregon Trail Segment (see photo at the top of post). It’s a series of talks and chats with rangers who are there to answer questions. They tend to stay at the area between the hours of 10:30am and 12:30pm daily
- Tuesday Evening Programs: 7:00 pm – From May 31st – Aug. 16th at the outdoor amphitheater. The subject of the talks vary so be sure to check the site calendar.
Visit the Visitor’s Center
The Visitor’s center has some good exhibits and information on Scotts Bluff, the Oregon Trail, and things to do in the area. It’s worth a look and definitely worth visiting the exhibits on display. If you have time and are interested there’s also a movie about Scotts Bluff and its role on the Oregon Trail.
The park is open generally from sunrise to sunset daily. There is no staying in the park overnight and no camping available in the National Monument.
Address: 190276 Old Oregon Trail Gering, NE 69341
Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
There is a visitor center for Scotts Bluff that is open daily at the hours above. The visitors center is a great place to stop and learn about the site, history, and there is a movie to watch at the site as well. It’s a good spot to park as well for some of the nearby walks.
There is no Fee to access Scotts Bluff National Monument.
There is a National Park Passport Stamp located in the Visitor’s center. It is the only location for stamps for Scotts Bluff NM.
Website: Official NPS Site
Places to Stay Scotts Bluff NM
There is no camping available within the National Monument borders. For Camping you’ll need to find a campsite in the areas outside of the park’s borders.
There are quite a few options for hotels in Scottsbluff, NE. It is a combined with a couple other towns to make a decent sized area. You can certainly find other brands as well in the city, although none that I found were good for walking areas. A couple options below.
Great option for those looking for a clean hotel, particularly part of the Hilton brand. It’s not very centrally located and you’ll need a car. But the service, rooms, etc. are good.
This has been my choice for when I tend to travel through Scottsbluff. Good rooms, clean, and has EV chargers out front as well. I’m more of a Marriott person though so I tend to lean this way when I’m traveling and staying in chain hotels.
Scottsbluff National Monument is located west of the “tri-cities” (Gering, Scottsbluff, Terrytown) in central western Nebraska.
The National Monument is located off Nebraska Route 92 and the Old Oregon Trail Road. The park is located in what is considered Gering and easily reachable by any of the towns. The park is about 10 minutes from downtown Scottsbluff Nebraska.
The National Monument is not incredibly close to any major highway. The monument is located about 44 miles north of Route I-80. The closest direct town on I-80 is Kimball, Nebraska.
The closest Airport to the monument is in Scottsbluff, NE. Western Nebraska Regional Airport (BFF) does see service from United Airlines. However, flights and connections are certainly limited. If you want more options you’ll need to fly into Cheyenne WY, or Fort Collins CO, although both are a lot further away.