- Crawl on board with us as we depart North Platte on a Monday in a modern, comfortable van
- First stop – a rodeo bucking bull ranch in the sand hills north of North Platte where we’ll see athletic bulls being fed and pampered to do what they do best – buck
- Next stop is a long-standing Hereford ranch north of North Platte where we’ll see an operation that so typifies the family cattle operation of the sand hills
- We’ll now switch (no pun intended) to the railroad as we visit the Bailey Railroad Yards and Golden Spike Tower and Visitors Center in North Platte. We’ll be awed by the incredible railyard layout where trains are “pieced together” for their journeys to the far ends of the U.S.
- Are you hungry by now? Let’s descend on Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge in Paxton where we’ll enjoy lunch while more than 200 mounts of all kinds, from around the world, unwaveringly admire us from the surrounding walls
- Our itinerary now takes us to Lake McConaughy, Nebraska’s largest reservoir, where, if we are so inclined, we can spend some time getting wet or fishing. You’ll be awed at the beauty of this awesome body of water with hard land hills on the south shore and sand hills on the north shore. And WOW! Does that sand ever make for great beaches!
- Now we are off to Nancy B’s Backyard Bunkhouse where we’ll hear the story of the ranch upon which it sits from Nancy or her husband John. Talk about a Family cattle operation in a beautiful setting along the old Oregon Trail…! Be prepared to indulge your palate with a mouth-watering, home cooked meal prepared in the gathering shadows of the rocky hills and bluffs. Then bed down in the bliss of the quiet western Nebraska night.
- On Tuesday morning, we’ll drive just a few miles to Ash Hollow State Historical Park where we’ll see ruts remaining from wagons that traversed the Oregon/California Trail in the mid-19th century. Our minds will step back in time as we mentally stride along beside our family’s Conestoga wagon on our way through Ash Hollow.
- Courthouse Rock and Jail Rock loom into view today and, as we near their bases, we’ll be mesmerized by these giant monoliths that seem to whisper the secrets of the trail days as only they can. They’ll quietly urge us westward.
- The Steel Grill, in the old, historic town of Bridgeport, will be our next stop. As we enjoy the cuisine we can absorb the history of this town in its beautiful setting in the North Platte River Valley.
- We’ll next be treated to a conversation with a really sharp rancher that will be sure to have you hanging on every word he says as you truly come to understand the great care this man takes in assuring that he has the best opportunity for profit through appropriate optimum care and marketing of his breeding heifer operation north of Bridgeport in hard land canyon country.
- Next stop is Chimney Rock, one of, if not the, most famous land marks on the Oregon Trail. Learn of its history and what it meant to eyes that had scanned the trail for weeks searching for the spire they had heard and read so much about.
- We would be remiss if we didn’t visit Legacy of the Plains Museum, our next stop, in Gering, to learn and see, in full view of Scottsbluff National Monument, what made this valley so important in the history of the settlement of the American west.
- Barn Anew Bed and Breakfast near Scottsbluff National Monument is our ticket to a great night’s sleep in one of the most beautiful B and B’s you’ll ever have the opportunity to stay in. Let Allen and Cher, both a wealth of knowledge about the area, provide you with local western and native-American history.
- Arrive Scottsbluff National Monument on Wednesday morning. Catch the view of Mitchell pass from the perspective of long-ago travelers on the Oregon Trail, and see wagon ruts still in existence today. Traveling to the top of the monument, we’ll let our eyes sweep the horizons where we can see the North Platte River Valley and the Oregon Trail stretch for miles north and west into Wyoming, and south and east back down the valley toward the North Platte River’s confluence with the South Platte River – 175 miles away – at the town of North Platte where we started our journey.
- Lunch at Ken and Dales, the place to eat in Alliance for forever, is the next order of business.
- The little ghost town of Antioch will peak our interest as we view relics left from WWI boom days. We’ll learn just what kind of boom days.
- The Lakeside area ranch that will be our next stop will allow us to once more get a perspective of an old line cow/calf ranch family. Conversation with this family, as we gaze out over their operation, will uncover admiration and respect for the courage, fortitude, and work ethic of the American rancher.
- We are in for a special treat as the little town of Ellsworth and the old Spade Ranch Store come into view – almost like rolling in on the stage back in 1898. We’ll be carried back in time to the ranch’s early days when it encompassed 500,000 acres and was home to 60,000 cattle. We’ll check out the vast assortment of merchandise in the historic old store – from clothing to fire arms. And the old pictures – WOW! They’ll make us yearn for a more carefree life on the vast ranges of the sand hills.
- As we head on east, we’ll be driving through text-book ranch country that doesn’t get any better – nowhere in the nation! Just ask any cattleman.
- We’ll check into Whisperin’ Angel Bed and Breakfast in Hyannis for the night. There will be a little time before supper if we want to walk or drive a couple of blocks to the old historic Hyannis Hotel and get a fast history lesson of the 1898 hotel and Hyannis’ importance as a shipping point for cattle on the railroad. We’ll be sure to find at least a few cowboys in the old restaurant and bar sharing their stories of cows and horses and good times and bad times of the day just ended. Marilyn, back at the Whisperin’ Angel B and B, will then serve us one of her mouth-watering meals as we kick back and reminisce about the day just ended.
- After a great breakfast – as only Marilyn can prepare – at Whisperin’ Angel, we’ll shove off for Mullen on Thursday morning where we’ll crawl into a cattle tank and float the Middle Loup River for a spell. If tanking isn’t your thing, just kick back in the center of the Sandhills for a couple of hours and drink in this wonderful, low-stress way of life.
- Our last ranch stop will be near the cross roads of the sand hills – Thedford. We’ll be inspired by this rancher’s family’s great multigenerational care of the land and the grass, and, consequently, their cattle. We’ll come away with a truly knowledgeable love and respect for a few specific plant species that are so effective in holding these sandy, blowin’ hills together when they are treated right. And this rancher definitely knows how to prevent these dunes from blowing away.
- No tour of Western Nebraska would be complete without spending a little time at the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park in North Platte. We can meander around the grounds of the old Scout’s Rest and consider what it must have been like in the late 1800’s as Buffalo Bill told the story of the plains, the buffalo, and the native Americans through his action-packed wild west shows.
- The restaurant at Rivers Edge Golf Course will beckon us for a fitting ending to our trip with a great selection of steak, seafood, chicken, and whatever your appetite is craving. Enjoy this last meal together in a relaxing atmosphere as we remember the awesome wonder of Western Nebraska and the hard land and sand hills and the ranches and ranchers that call this piece of Americana home.
Thank you for checking out this itinerary! We believe you will enjoy this trip, and we know that we’ll enjoy having you along as we once again travel this great stretch of Nebraska that somehow seems to stay suspended in time.
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