Scotts Bluff National Monument, Part 2

Gering, NE

The day after we arrived in Gering we returned to Scotts Bluff National Monument to hike the Saddle Rock Trail up to the summit.

Start of the trail with Saddle Rock in the background

The Saddle Rock Trail begins at the visitor center and climbs 435 feet in 1.6 miles.  The first third of the trail is relatively level.  The trail then climbs rapidly up most of the 435 feet in less than a mile.  About half way to the summit the trail goes under Saddle Rock through a short tunnel.

Looking back at the trail from the tunnel under Saddle Rock

The entrance to the tunnel

The north end of the tunnel has a view of the city of Scottsbluff

On the other side of the tunnel the trail goes up a series of switchbacks, then over Saddle Rock.

The view on top of Saddle Rock

Once over Saddle Rock the trail continues with a gentle climb to the top of the bluff.

Looking back down at the trail from near the top of the bluff

In 1933 a survey marker was placed in the rock at the highest point on the bluff.  At that time the area around the marker was even with the marker.  Erosion has rapidly lowered the surrounding area since then.

The survey marker today

Below is a photo of a small area of badlands below the bluff, with the Platte River in the background.  The Oregon Trail generally followed the south side of the Platte River through Nebraska.  But here it had to go south of Scotts Bluff, as the wagons couldn’t go through the badlands and the area next to the river was too soft.

Colorful flowers brightened the top of the bluff

A view of the motorhome from the top. What, you can’t see it?

A zoom photo will help

Enjoying the benefits of gravity on the return hike

On the second full day of our visit we drove eight miles south to visit Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area.   Operated by the state of Nebraska, the area has a nice nature center and a series of short trails that wind up and down through eroded ridges and canyons.  We combined some of the trails to complete a hike of about three miles.  The temperatures were a little too warm for much more.

Two picnic shelters  in the area were built by the CCC during the Depression

Next up for us is a visit to Cheyenne, the capitol of Wyoming.  More on that later . . .

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17 Responses to Scotts Bluff National Monument, Part 2

  1. Tomorrow is another hot day! So we will do this trail very early in the morning. Thanks for scouting the trail for us.

  2. That looks like a couple of neat hikes…it’s too bad it was so warm! It seems greener than I expected, I guess they’ve been benefiting from all the rain this year!

  3. explorvistas says:

    We have been by there several times over the years, but never had time to stop. Now that we are retired, we are going to have to check this out! Thanks for introducing us to this trail, John!

  4. Ingrid says:

    Too bad you couldn’t just zipline back to the RV. Interesting country. It was too hot for us to do much hiking in the Badlands 95-100 degrees and 5 days earlier we needed sweatshirts in WI.

  5. Gay says:

    Great hikes you two! Love the climbs with switchbacks and beautiful vistas.

  6. Marsha says:

    Oh, we are so very jealous. We would love to be back out there hiking again. I am not sure Florida is going to give us very many “good” hiking opportunities. Your scenery is lovely!

    Looks like you are having beautiful weather. I love the photo of the MH…from faaaarrrr away.

  7. jimandbarb says:

    Looks like an interesting area to hike, I always find Oregon Trail information intriguing imagining what the settlers went through. Have fun in Cheyenne, that is a great place!

  8. Jodee Gravel says:

    Love that tunnel and the view from the saddle. I’m thinking if I wait just a couple hundred years I can say I made it to the top of the bluff – yay erosion! Great to see you guys back on the trail.

  9. Laurel says:

    So fun to see you two back on the trail! Very pretty hike, and the tunnel is cool! Thanks for the wildflower shot, too. You know I always like to see the flowers. 🙂

  10. Sarah says:

    What great views from the top of the bluff. I have to confess that I just drove to the top, but I certainly am not surprised that you two decided to hike!

  11. LuAnn says:

    It doesn’t matter where it is, I am just glad to see you two both back in your element. 🙂

  12. Pingback: Famous Western Nebraska landmarks – Platte River Valley | The Lowe's RV adventures

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