Dan and I were in need of a day trip. I stood in front of our map on our wall and asked if Nebraska was too far.
Dan, of course, said no problem.
Scotts Bluff National Monument, about 2.5 hours north of Fort Collins, was an important wayfinding point along the Oregon Trail.
When we first approached Scotts Bluff, I made a snarky comment — something about how Scott was probably the first white man who ever saw the rock formations, and that somehow Native Americans had never spotted it before. I was positively surprised when the National Park Service’s interpretation was as much about Native history in the area as it was about Manifest Destiny. (Hiram Scott was a white guy, by the way — a member of a fur trapping party who was left behind when he got sick. When the party returned and found his bones, they named the area Scotts Bluff.)
The road that passes through Scotts Bluff was closed due to snow, but the ranger encouraged us to hike along part of the wagon path for the Oregon Trail. We were clearly the only visitors to do so since the last snowfall.
We were the only human visitors, anyway. We came across many different types of wildlife tracks, and even followed paw prints (a small coyote or wild cat) until we found the remains of a mole that it had caught and eaten. Then the tracks vanished.
We were out to Nebraska and back before dinner. We’re both looking forward to visiting Scotts Bluff again, especially once the expansion of the Visitors’ Center is complete and when the weather permits the road to reopen.
P.S. If you’re visiting Scotts Bluff, we can vouch for the wood-fired pizzas at the nearby Flyover Brewing.