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  1. #1

    Default Northwest Nebraska Advice

    Hey everyone,

    I was lookin for some advice on seeing the sites in NW Nebraska. We'll be going from California to the Badlands and I wanted to spend a day in this area.
    Looks like we'll be sleeping in Cheyenne the night before. The stuff I want to see is:
    Scottsbluff National Monument
    Chimney Rock
    Fort Robinson
    Toadstool Geologic Park
    Warbonnet Battlefield

    The problem I am running across is finding out how close Warbonnet and Toadstool are to each other. I'm not sure if Mapquest is totally accurate (11 miles) and if these roads are dirt, paved, gravel, marked?

    Thanks for the help.


  2. Default Seeing NE

    I figure the distance between Toadstool and Warbonnet to be about 16 miles, but my numbers may not be totally accurate because I had a hard time pinpointing Toadstool's exact locale. Anyway -- if you figure 11 and I came up with 16, the reality is likely in the middle. You can count on these roads being gravel for the most part.

    To add to your possibilities, be sure to take the side road to the Red Cloud Agency while you are at Fort Robinson. A lot of history happened on that spot. Also, to the east of Crawford you'll see Crow Butte -- a legendary battle between Crow and Lakota happened there in 1849 -- with connected heroism and bravery. A movie could be made about it if Hollywood ever catches on. A roadside marker between Crawford and Chadron will point it out, but you can get closer by going south from Crawford for 2.5 miles, then east for 4.

    Off the highway east of Crawford you'll also find a marker for a USA-Lakota treaty conference, or parley of some kind. Words from the Marker --

    Approximately half a mile northwest of this point is the site of the Treaty Tree. There in September, 1875, while thousands of members of the Sioux Indian Nation looked on, the Allison Commission made an unsuccessful attempt to buy the Black Hills area from the Indians. It was not until after the bloody campaigns of 1876 that the Sioux Commission, headed by George Manypenny, succeeded in purchasing the area.
    I tried to get back to the spot last March (2006) but found the way blocked (with dirt piles). I do not know if it is clear now or not -- but originally signs were posted to show the way. Crawford is named for Capt Emmett Crawford -- if you are familiar he figured prominently in the Geronimo Campaign in the mid-1880s. He had been posted at Camp Robinson earlier.

    Just west of Fort Robinson, there is a road back into a game preserve -- there were buffalo and pronghorn back in there -- the drive is only a few miles -- 5 or 6 maybe. Also, note the bluffs above the fort to the north -- if you read Crazy Horse's biographies he talks about being with Lakota that watched the soldier-Indian-peace commissioner meetings below when things were tense from up there -- they are called the Red Cloud Buttes.

    East of Chadron, you'll find a fur trade museum that might be worth a look (I couldn't stop) and that area is also the land Mari Sandoz grew up on -- her father Old Jules (she wrote a biography of him) played a large role in settling NW Nebraska along the Niobrara R.

    As you go north, you might stop at Wounded Knee. It's a place that deserves more dignity than what it has received -- but is still an important stop if you want to understand Indian-White relations over the past two centuries. It's a dodgy area (Pine Ridge/Wounded Knee), so keep your wits about you.

    Finally, if you are looking for lodging -- I stayed at the Motel 6 in Chadron and the staff there (the manager in particular) was outstanding. It's a nice lodge (was something else originally). The manager went out of her way to get me information on some things in the area I wanted to see -- beyond the call of duty for sure. She was great.

    You may already realize this is a long day... with time at each place you mention (not mine), and assuming you are on the road at 8:00 with breakfast out of the way, this is a 12.5 hour day with 1 hour for lunch and dinner after you quit. Why not make your base Chadron and then you could spend a bit more time in that area -- maybe getting underway northbound at mid-day the following day instead. Just a suggestion.
    Last edited by Robert Schaller; 04-06-2007 at 01:17 AM. Reason: Added last paragraph

  3. #3

    Default Thanks

    Thanks for the information Arizona Bob. I'm definitely down to check out anything that is history related, especially the old west, later in the trip were hitting Deadwood and Little Bighorn Battlefield, so I should be able to take in a lot of history.
    That game preserve sounds pretty cool, I'm going to add that into my list of things to see, same with Crow Butte (is there anything written about that battle?).
    Originally, I was just gonna blast through this region on our trip, but I started noticing some cool stuff. I might just have to spend the night out this way. At first we were gonna push towards Rapid City that day, but I think I'll take your advice and stay in Nebraska.

    Thanks again for the info.


  4. Default Deadwood, Crow Butte and Custer State Park

    If you want a suggestion for a place to stay -- in Deadwood the Black Hills Inn & Suites is owned by friends of mine -- economical lodging and very nice people (Linda Den Beste & Merrill, Sam and Katy Ellis).

    I have found a little about the Crow Butte battle in the past by googling it -- I ran across it on the road while in that area last year and looked it up when I got home. The historical marker didn't say anything about what happened there -- just said it did. If I remember correctly -- a small raiding party of Crows got caught by the Sioux they'd robbed (horses, of course) and were driven to the top of the butte -- they had to abandon the horses to escape with their lives. The Lakota laid siege and realizing they couldn't get away, the Crows left one brave soul on the top to keep the fires going, and the rest slipped down the hill and away into the night. The guy left behind perished of course.

    The game preserve at Fort Robinson is pretty small -- worth the drive I thought but pretty quick. More extensive -- Custer State Park near Custer, South Dakota. You'd see LOTS of animals there! I drove right out amongst the bison -- found pronghorns ON the road with the vehicles -- and more wild turkeys than I'd ever seen in one place before -- literally dozens. Deer, birds of prey. It was great.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Great Nebraska resources


    Thanks for your posts on this thread. Really adds some good resources for Nebraska destinations.


  6. #6

    Default Thanks again

    That's a pretty cool story. Could only imagine what happened to that poor soul that stayed behind.
    This might be a stupid question, but can you take a metal detector out to these battlefields? I know when I was back east at some Civil War sites they were not permitted, but they were also run through the NPS. I'm sure a lot of the good stuff has been found, but there still has to be so much more that's undiscovered.

    I have Custer State park in the plans. Looks like a neat place. I was shocked to see that there are Elk and Bighorn Sheep there (not to mention Nebraska too).

    I'm gettin stoked, only 6 weeks away!!

  7. #7


    I can only speak for Chimney Rock but when I went there is was really pretty cool. The information center there is great and you are on the California, Oregon and I forget the third trail all at once when you travel down the road to get there.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default Fur Trade Museum

    Howdy, Just to reenforce the comment about the Museum of the Fur Trade east of Chadron. Great place with all the information exhibits and such you could ask for. We were there two years ago, before the new building was built, and loved it. I can only imagine that it is better now.

    Chadron is a pretty nice little town, too. We found a good Mexican restaurant there on the west side of the main street, but of course, I can't remember the name.

    I also echo the comments about the wildlife loop in Custer State Park. We've seen lots of pronghorn, from a distance, but never before from just 10 feet! They are such strikingly handsome animals.

    Another interesting historic site nearby is Fort Laramie in Fort Laramie (not Laramie), WY. It is quite well restored and may have some living history people. You'll find it just north of Cheyenne and kind of on your way.

    Did I hear that a chunk of Chimney Rock fell off a year or two ago? It might have been someplace else, but that is what I recall. Still, it is a place I'd like to visit one day.

    Someone mentioned a third trail through there. I assume they meant the Mormon Trail.

    The story of the Mormon Handcart Trail is a stirring and tragic one (far worse than the Donners). The Mormon Handcart visitor center near Muddy Gap, WY has a reconstructed log building and good museum that tells the chilling story of the winter of 1856.

  9. Default NW Nebraska

    Hi All -

    What great info and just in time. I'm planning a two week roundtrip driving trip in late August from Dallas via KS, NE, SD, ND, MN, WI the upper peninsula of MI, IN, IL and back home. My main goal is to hit the last 4 states needed to say I've been to all 50 (SD, ND, MN, WI) and take in the sights at the same time - Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Monument, etc. The info you've provided about all the historic sites has piqued my curiosity and I may have to re-draw my route to visit some of them.

    Any other suggestions for some of the other states I'll be visiting will be most welcome.

    Mary L.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default South Dakota ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by Texas Traveler View Post
    What great info and just in time.
    We are happy it is working out this way! Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum.
    take in the sights at the same time - Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Monument, etc.
    Here is an excellent field report about South Dakota.


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