Scotts Bluff National Monument is located in Western Nebraska near the border of Wyoming. The park offers the opportunity to drive through the 3 auto tunnels in the entire state of Nebraska along with learning about the Oregon Trail.
Scotts Bluff National Monument
If you grew up in the 80s you remember playing the Oregon Trail video game and trying to not die of dysentery. While visiting Scotts Bluff you thankfully do not have to worry about dysentery but you do get the chance to learn what life was like for pioneers on the Oregon Trail.
Rising 800 feet above the North Platte River Scotts Bluff has been a landmark for many people including Native Americans along with emigrants and modern travelers.
This US National Monument preserves 3,000 acres of geological and paleontological history
Directly behind the visitor center is the entrance to the scenic drive to the top of Scotts Bluff. Trailers and large vehicles are prohibited from doing the drive.
The drive is 1.6 miles up to the scenic overlook. Along the way, you have the opportunity to drive through the three car tunnels in the entire state of Nebraska.
These tunnels and the road were built by CCC crews.
When you reach the top of Scotts Bluff you can normally see for miles out along the Nebraska plains. We happened to visit on a day that wildfire smoke had come in from the west diminishing the views a lot.
On a normal day, you can see all the way to Chimney Rock and beyond.
Saddle Rock Trail
The Saddle Rock Trail departs from the visitor center. The trail is 1.6 miles one way to the top of the bluff.
The Saddle Rock Trail is considered strenuous with an elevation change of 435 feet.
When the Summit Shuttle is running you can hike this trail one-way.
South Overlook Trail
The South Overlook Trail is a 1/8 mile trail that leads to great overlooks.
North Overlook Trail
The North Overlook Trail is a half-mile trail that leads you out along Scotts Bluff and offers amazing views.
There is very little shade on the trail so you will want to be prepared for bright sunshine.
Cell Phone Auto Tour
There is a cell phone auto tour that helps explain some of the scenic sites and information on the Oregon Trail.
Oregon Trail Wagons
One of the highlights of a visit to Scotts Bluff NM is checking out the different pioneer covered wagons and recreation ox pulling them along the Oregon Trail.
There is a short paved trail near the visitor center that leads you along the Oregon Trail.
I will warn you that there are multiple signs advising you to keep an eye out for prairie rattlesnakes.
We did not see any rattlesnakes on our walk but I want you to be aware especially if you have small kids that run around and may not notice a snake.
There is a great Pony Express designation right next to the visitor center.
Things to know when planning a visit to Scotts Bluff National Monument
Time needed – This is a park that will most likely take you an average of an hour or two at most.
If you are a huge fan of the Oregon Trail, hike all three trails, or have a picnic you could spend longer than this in the park.
There is not a lot of shade if any on the trails if you plan to hike them. Please come prepared with water, sunglasses, and sunscreen at a minimum for hiking.
Rattlesnakes – There are multiple signs near the visitor center and along the trails warning visitors to keep an eye out for prairie rattlesnakes.
Restrooms – The bathrooms are located at the visitor center. There are no restrooms at the top of Scotts Bluff so you will want to plan accordingly.
Camping – There is no camping available within the park.
Lodging – There is no lodging in the park. The closest towns for lodging are in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
We stayed in North Platte, Nebraska on our Midwest National Park Roadtrip.
National Park Sites near Scotts Bluff National Monument
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument - 52 miles
Fort Laramie National Historic Site - 50 miles
Mount Rushmore National Memorial -207 miles
Wind Cave National Park -175 miles
Jewel Cave National Monument - 197 miles
Niobrara National Scenic River - 220 miles
Florrisant Fossil Beds National Monument - 296 miles
Check out all of the National Parks in Nebraska and neighboring Wyoming National Parks, South Dakota National Parks, Iowa National Parks, Missouri National Parks, Kansas National Parks, and Colorado National Parks