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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 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.

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.

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.

8. Bring a picnic.

Food just tastes better when eaten outdoors! The monument features three covered picnic tables just to the east of the visitor center.

A man dressed as a fur trader talks to a family of visitors in the shade of a tree.
Costumed interpretation programs are offered during the summer season.

NPS

9. Attend a ranger program

During the summer months park rangers at Scotts Bluff National Monument offer programs for your enjoyment and inspiration. Join a ranger to learn more about the trail emigrants, the western fur trade, plants, animals and geology of this special place.

10. Stay in the area for a night or two.

Besides the monument, there is plenty to do in the North Platte Valley. While there is no overnight lodging in Scotts Bluff National Monument, the local communities of Scottsbluff and Gering offer a wide variety of lodging options, from upscale hotels to family friendly campgrounds. For more information about local lodging options, visit https://visitscottsbluff.com/

Planning to visit other National Park Service sites as part of your vacation? Make the most of your time by visiting the national Plan Your Vacation Like a Park Ranger page.

Last updated: June 6, 2021