“We get it. Some people will write Nebraska off and never give it another thought. Or another chance. But we also know that there are enlightened truth-seekers out there willing to take the time to find out what makes our beautiful state so appealing, charming, and disarming. Welcome enlightened truth-seekers!” – https://visitnebraska.com/
While often overlooked as a travel destination, Nebraska is a Midwestern hidden gem. It offers majestic landscapes, rich history of trailblazers, and dramatic natural wonders surrounding vibrant cities and culture. So the next time you cross through Nebraska on your RV journey, consider stopping a few days at some of these stunning and noteworthy natural and historical landmarks featuring unique rock formations.
The Chimney, Smokestack, Teepee, Wigwam…Chimney Rock National Historic Site, just outside the tiny town of Bayard, has been called many things throughout the centuries. The iconic rock formation that rises close to 480 feet above the North Platte River served as a landlocked beacon along the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails during the 1800s.
Accounts of Chimney Rock were recorded in the diaries and journals of early emigrants. They mentioned that the sight of the landmark made them “glad to see that they are going the right direction, and it spired to the heavens.”
While the spire is about 30 feet shorter than it was over 150 years ago, the landscape looks much the same way as it did during the western migration. Today, visitors can learn all about the area at the national historic site’s museum and even walk around a cemetery with graves dating back to the 19th century.
Folks wanting to make an overnight camping trip to this captivating site can stay just down the road at Chimney Rock Pioneer Crossing Campground. The park has the best panoramic views of Chimney Rock, surrounding rock formations, wildlife, and a big open sky.
Continue your journey down the Oregon Trail at the next stop. About a 30-minute drive northwest of Chimney Rock National Historic Site via NE-92 W sits another significant portion of the California, Oregon, and Mormon Trails. Towering 800 feet above the North Platte River, Scotts Bluff has served as a landmark for both Native Americans and westward-bound emigrants.
Visitors to this 3,000-acre national monument rich in geological, paleontological, and human history, can explore the visitor’s center and peruse its exhibits, go on a hike, drive the 1.6-mile Summit Road to catch a view from the top of Scotts Bluff or attend a ranger program. All of this is available for free. Plus, for your convenience, the local communities of Scottsbluff and Gering offer family-friendly campgrounds.
On the opposite corner of Nebraska, to the southeast region, is the picturesque Indian Cave State Park. This over 3,000-acre camping, hiking, and boating paradise borders the mighty Missouri River and is nestled amongst a variety of hardwood trees, shrubs, and other flora.
The main geological feature of the state park is the Indian Cave. It features prehistoric Native American petroglyphs that can be viewed from a wooden boardwalk extending the length of the cave wall.
Visitors can also enjoy an array of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, boating, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, archery, wildlife viewing, picnicking, and camping. The state park hosts guided tours and special events for day-use visitors and campers throughout the year as well.
For more information on this intriguing RV camping spot, check out outdoornebraska.gov.
If you’re willing to travel off the beaten path down washboard roads and away from cell service, then this next adventure to the far northwest corner of Nebraska may be your next detour. The unique rock formations resembling mushrooms of Toadstool Geological Park are a part of what is referred to as the Nebraska Badlands.
Toadstool Geological Park is located in the Oglala National Grassland and includes a campground for those wanting to explore and hike the trails several days in a row. Day visitors and overnight campers can utilize a self–guided trail brochure to learn about the grasslands, geological formations, and fossil deposits.
There are three hiking trails to choose from with varying degrees of difficulty and range from 1 to 5 miles. The campground consists of six sites (long enough for rigs up to 30 feet, according to Always on Liberty’s review) with picnic tables and fire rings, and there are two vault toilets. Unfortunately, there is no water or hookups, so come prepared. The campground is open year-round with limited services from mid-November to early May. For more information on this geological anomaly or to learn more about RV camping there, visit the USDA Forest Service site.
(As with any camping venture, be leary of weather conditions, Traveling and camping at Toadstool Geographic Park and Campground during a storm or downpour is not advised, especially considering the entrance is a dirt road over 10 miles long.)
Whether traveling through the Midwest or the Northeast, RV carefree using Coach-Net’s 24/7 RV Technical & Roadside Assistance. When you purchase a Coach-Net membership, help from a trusted RV expert is always just a phone call away. But that’s not the only benefit members can receive. Coach-Net offers many additional services, including Tire & Wheel Protection, Extended Service Agreement, RV Paint & Fabric Protection, Guaranteed Asset Protection, and more. For more information on how Coach-Net can provide peace of mind one RV adventure at a time, contact us today!
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About The Author: Natalie Henley
Levi Henley and his wife, Natalie, have been full-time RVers for over 5 years. They have also been Coach-Net customers for the same amount of time. They travel and workcamp around the U.S. in their 26-foot Itasca Sunstar motorhome with their two cats. They write for multiple RV-related publications and recently co-wrote “Seasonal Workamping for a Living: How We Did It.” You can follow their adventures on the road at henleyshappytrails.com
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