Top Ten Tips for Visiting Scotts Bluff National Monument

Planning a visit to Scotts Bluff? We're excited to host you! Here are some tips that will help you have a fun, safe, and memorable visit to this famous landmark on the emigrant trails.
A visitor interacts with a tactile exhibit about trading posts.
New, hands-on exhibits help to tell the story of Scotts Bluff to visitors of all ages.

NPS/Eric Grunwald

1. Learn more about the people who have traveled past Scotts Bluff in the past by visiting the monument visitor center.

New, interactive exhibits in the visitor center describe how Native Americans, fur traders and emigrants to Oregon, California, and Utah all interacted with each other and the lands surrounding Scotts Bluff.

  • The visitor center is currently operating under Summer Hours. Open from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. daily.

2. Experience the artistic side of Scotts Bluff by admiring the William Henry Jackson collection.

Did you know that Scotts Bluff National Monument contains the world’s largest collection of the works of famed western artist William Henry Jackson? If you are unfamiliar with Jackson, he was a watercolorist and photographer who helped capture the history of the western United States in his works. His 1871 photographs of the Yellowstone region were a catalyst for creating Yellowstone National Park in 1872. A small portion of the collection is on display in the visitor center.

A woman peruses a variety of sales items displayed on shelves and pegs.
There is a wide variety of books and other educational products found in the Scotts Bluff National Monument store.

NPS/Eric Grunwald

3. Stamp your passport book.

Scotts Bluff National Monument is home to 5 different passport stamps. Besides the Scotts Bluff NM stamp, there are stamps for the Oregon National Historic Trail, the California National Historic Trail, the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail, and the Pony Express National Historic Trail. The passport stamping station can be found in the park store.

4. Take a memento of your visit home with a stop in the park store.

The Scotts Bluff National Monument store is operated by Black Hills Parks and Forests Association and offers a variety of interpretive materials about Scotts Bluff NM, the Nebraska Panhandle, and the people who settled and live here. All purchases made from the park store help support interpretive programming at Scotts Bluff National Monument.

A pair of hikers ascends a rocky bluff on an asphalt trail.
A pair of hikers enjoys the prairie scenery on the Saddle Rock Trail.

NPS/Eric Grunwald

5. Become a Junior Ranger.

Scotts Bluff National Monument features a Junior Ranger program. Booklets are available at the visitor center. When participants complete the activities in the booklet, they can bring it back to the visitor center for a park ranger to check. Successful Junior Rangers earn a special badge and join the prestigious ranks of fellow Junior rangers who care about our parks and help protect them.

6. Experience the dramatic scenery of Western Nebraska on a hike!

Hiking Scotts Bluff National Monument can be an amazing experience for the prepared hiker. Be sure to bring drinking water and a snack and be prepared for the changing weather of the high plains. The Saddle Rock Trail, a 1.6-mile hike (one way) with a 435-foot ascent, is a local favorite and leads from the monument visitor center to the summit of Scotts Bluff. Planning on hiking during the summer? Afternoon temperatures can rise to above 100 degrees F. Consider planning your hike for the morning or early evening. Be sure to stay on the trails to avoid rattlesnake encounters and the soft, crumbly rocks of the bluff.

A car ascends a steep road, headed towards a tunnel.
The views from the Scotts Bluff Summit Road are spectacular.

NPS/Eric Grunwald

7. Drive the Scotts Bluff Summit Road.

The Summit Road is the oldest concrete road in the state of Nebraska and features the only 3 auto tunnels in the state. The 1.6-mile drive to the summit leads to a parking area where two short trails lead to overlooks. Please be aware that due to the three tunnels and sharp curves, the road is not open to vehicles that are taller than 11 feet 7 inches, longer than 25 feet, or vehicles towing trailers. Rockfalls and weather conditions sometimes force rangers to close the road. Come prepared with a backup plan of other things to do.

8. Think safety!

While we want you to have a fun trip to Scotts Bluff National Monument, we would also like for your visit to be a safe one. Stay on established trails while hiking in the monument or visiting overlooks. Wandering off-trail increases your likelihood of triggering a rockslide.

Be aware of the weather. Summer brings high temperatures and afternoon thunderstorms to the Great Plains. Be prepared with drinking water and do not venture on the trails if storms threaten.

A leashed dog sits on a paved trail bathed in early morning light.
Leashed pets are permitted on all monument trails. Please clean up all pet waste.

NPS/Robert Wagner

9. Plan a longer stay in the Scottsbluff/Gering area.

There is plenty to do in and around the communities that surround the monument, so why not spend the night? From hiking at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area, to exploring more Emigrant Trail history at the Chimney Rock Museum, to learning about the legacy of farming and ranching in the North Platte River Valley at the Legacy of the Plains Museum. Food and lodging options abound in the cities of Scottsbluff and Gering.

10. Visiting with your pet?

Leashed pets are welcome on monument trails. However, you must clean up your pet's waste. Please be aware that pets are not permitted inside the Scotts Bluff National Monument Visitor Center. Scotts Bluff National Monument also offers a BARK Ranger program. Earn a fun reward with your pet when you visit and pledge to follow the rules of B.A.R.K.

Planning to visit other National Park Service sites in Nebraska as part of your vacation? Make the most of your time by visiting the Things to Do in Nebraska page.

Scotts Bluff National Monument

Last updated: May 25, 2024