Today we visited two national monuments that were key locations on the Oregon Trail. While they are only about 30 miles apart, it took two days for the pioneers to go from one to the other.
First we visited Scotts Bluff because it was closer to where we are staying. The pioneers would go between the formations on the bluffs and head towards the Rocky mountains.
As you can see, these cliffs are formidable and would not be something they would want to take on….
….especially when there is a gap right through the middle of the formation.
Off to the southwest, there are more interesting formations.
And yet another formation.
One of the neat things about this monument is that the park service has created a road you can drive to the top. There are also trails, but they are steep and it was pretty hot outside. The view from the top is really great!
They have a nice visitor center with a short movie about the area. Not much on the geology though and I saw this layer on the top of the bluff and wonder what event caused the horizontal line in the rock?
As we were walking back to the car, I spied these cacti growing up here. If you had asked me if you could find cactus in Nebraska, I would have answered no until I saw these. Maybe that is why those pioneers referred to Nebraska as “the desert!”
From Scotts Bluff, it is only about 30 miles due east to Chimney rock.
This rock rises up off the “desert” floor and the pinnacle is about 350 feet high. This rock could be see from a great distance. It is said that while the pioneers were crossing the great plains to get here, the 600 mile trail was so boring. In fact some pioneers would wish for an Indian attack just for variety!
But once they reached Chimney rock, they knew that they were about a third of the way to Oregon and while the first part of the trail wasn’t very interesting, it also wasn’t very dangerous. Chimney Rock was the demarcation point where the trail had more sights to see but was a good deal more dangerous.
Tomorrow we head to Cheyenne, WY – only about 100 miles or so away. Should be an easy trip and cooler there. It is 94 here today!
Here is a short video of the Scotts Bluff and Chimney Rock areas….