The first stage (overnight) stop of the race is in Gering, Nebraska on July 15-16. Check the American Solar Challenge 2018 page for event details. Follow the race and related events on Facebook with: American Solar Challenge and Oregon National Historic Trail.
Gering, Nebraska: Monument Country
As they followed the North Platte River across western Nebraska, covered wagon emigrants gradually left the prairie behind and entered an area of monumental geological formations: Courthouse and Jail Rocks, Chimney Rock, and Scotts Bluff. These served as milestones to the emigration, but also piqued travelers’ curiosity and served as artistic subjects for many a trailside Rembrandt.
Check out these places near Gering, and one more not-to-be-missed site about an hour’s drive west of that town:
Chimney Rock National Historic Site (9822 Rd 75, Bayard, Neb.) Travelers could see Chimney Rock in the distance for days before finally passing it by. It really was not very near the trail, and those who wanted a closer look had to make an exhausting side trip to reach it. Visitors who stop there today can see original trail ruts and explore the site’s visitor center and bookstore. From the town of Bridgeport, drive west on US-26 for 12.5 miles. Turn south on Road 75 and follow signs to parking.
Scotts Bluff National Monument (190276 Old Oregon Trail Road, Gering, Neb.) This enormous formation is named for a fur trapper, Hiram Scott, who died in the vicinity in about 1828. The first wagon trails skirted around the formation, but a later route cut through at Mitchell pass. See wagon ruts and the site visitor center, and then drive or hike to the top for a magnificent view! Drive west from Gering on Old Hwy 92/M St. for about 2.3 miles. The monument is on the right.
Fort Laramie National Historic Site (965 Gray Rocks road, Fort Laramie, Wyo.), located about an hour’s drive west of Gering, was one of the most important military posts in the West. Many of the tribes of the Plains and Rocky Mountains gathered here in 1851 to sign a treaty, by which they agreed to allow the emigration to pass in peace in exchange for an annual annuity. Just three years later the treaty was violently broken—and the rest is, well, history. An interested visitor can easily spend an entire day wandering among the fort’s old buildings and grounds. From Scottsbluff, Neb., head west on US 26 and enter Wyoming. In the town of Fort Laramie, turn left (west) onto Highway 160. Cross the North Platte River. The road makes a sharp curve to the left. Turn onto the first road to the left to enter the historic site.