Scottsbluff, Nebraska, is the principal town of the far western part of the state, located 450 mi/725 km west of Omaha. Travelers know the area mainly for Scotts Bluff National Monument, a massive outcropping rising 800 ft/245 m above the valley floor. It may have been named after Hiram Scott, an early fur trapper who is said to have perished there; it was a major landmark for travelers on the Oregon Trail. A visitors center at the base of the bluff contains some interesting fossil exhibits as well as historic artifacts. Both hikers and motorists can reach the summit, from which you can see west approximately 125 mi/200 km on a clear day.
In nearby Gering, visit Robidoux Trading Post, which re-creates an establishment that specialized in providing goods to the pioneers. Chimney Rock National Historic Site, 19 mi/31 km from Gering, is a rock pinnacle towering 500 ft/150 m above the Platte River. It was yet another landmark for Oregon Trail pioneers. You can get there by car if you want, but it's a lot of fun to take one of the excursions by covered wagon or horseback. Trips lasting one day or four days are available. They leave from Bayard, southeast of Scottsbluff off Highway 92. Gering celebrates Oregon Trail Days in July.
Alliance, 45 mi/70 km northeast of Scottsbluff, is the site of Carhenge, one man's (Jim Reinders') monumental re-creation of England's most famous druidic site. Instead of rough-hewn boulders, Reinders erected 33 gray automobiles (and one ambulance) to resemble the megaliths at Stonehenge. A visitors center sells memorabilia and tells the history of the exhibit.
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