The northern Panhandle has a host of heritage, historical, and leisure sites in addition to those that offer hunting, fishing, and camping opportunities.
From the otherworldly landscape at Toadstool Geologic Park to the head-scratching bison kill site at Hudson-Meng, to the uniquely-American automobile take on Stonehenge in Carhenge.
Under 5 Miles
Chadron Area Wellness & Aquatics Center
540 East 10th Street, directly across from the college
Swimming pool with zero depth entry, splash pad and walking track
Dawes County Historical Society Museum
3 miles south on Hwy. 385,
right on Country Club Road,
(308) 432-4999 or 432-2309
The museum has unique collections of Dawes County history, such as quilts, clothing, furniture, an original log house and barn, a pioneer church and 1890’s schoolhouse.
The museum also features 1893 Chadron-Chicago 1,000 Mile Cowboy Horse Memorabilia and over 1,600 Heesacker antiques & toy collections as well as children’s furniture. The museum is open Memorial Day-Sep 30, Mon-Sat, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Sun & holidays,1-5 p.m.; or by appt. History in Action Day 4th Sunday in September. Free, donations accepted.
Museum of the Fur Trade
3 miles east on Hwy. 20,
The museum has exhibits from the North American fur trade, such as clothing and Indian art and artifacts, furs, textiles and the largest known collection of Northwest trade guns in the world. The museum is open May 1 through Oct. 31, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and has a small entry fee.
Ridgeview Country Club
3 miles south on Hwy. 385,
This nine-hole public golf course is home to the annual Don Beebe Golf Classic Tournament, which takes place every Memorial Day weekend. Driving range, cart and club rentals and instruction are available. The club is open Monday through Sunday from 7 a,m. to dark/closing.
Under 20 Miles
Chadron State Park
10 miles south on Hwy 385,
Chadron State Park offers camping and RV facilities, cabins, fishing, paddle boating, archery, horseback riding, hiking trails and has a sand volleyball court, tennis court, Frisbee golf, swimming pool, trading post and most importantly, peace and quiet. A Nebraska Park permit is required.
Under 30 Miles
Pine Ridge National Recreation Area
20 miles southwest on Hwy. 20
The 6,600 acre Pine Ridge Recreational Area offers a variety of recreational activities. The trails offer hunters, hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders unlimited access to the backcountry.
Legend Buttes Golf Course
23 miles west on Hwy. 20 to Crawford, continue west past town, turn right into golf course lot,
This nine-hole course is located at the base of the picturesque Legend Buttes. It opened in 1992 and features 3,178 yards of golf for a par of 36 and a course rating of 125.
The course is open April 1 to Oct. 1. Reservations not required, but are suggested.
Fort Robinson State Park
27 miles west on Hwy 20,
Fort Robinson was a military installation in the 1800s where many historical points of interest are located, such as the site of Crazy Horse’s Death and the Red Cloud Indian Agency. The park also has hiking and biking trails, horseback rid-ing, fishing and camping opportunities as well as two museums. A Nebraska Park permit is required.
Under 40 Miles
Toadstool Geologic Park
23 miles west on Hwy. 20 to Crawford, right onto Hwy. 2 and travel north 7.6 miles. Turn left onto Toadstool Road for 10 miles.
This national geologic site in the Badlands area is home to a one-mile loop trail of toadstools and trackways of extinct animals from 24 to 38 million years ago. Also available at the park are campgrounds and picnic areas. Open year-round with a small admission fee.
High Plains Homestead
23 miles west to Crawford, turn right onto Hwy 2 and go north 4.6 miles. Turn left onto Toadstool Road for 2.4 miles to Cottonwood and turn left and travel 1.9 miles, turn left to stay on Cottonwood for 5.6 Miles, turn Right onto Milo Road for 3.9 miles and continue onto Sandcreek Road for 2.8 miles.
Come to the homestead for some old-fashioned cowboy cooking for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Take a stroll down Main Street and visit the Old-west cowtown. Other popular activities at the homestead include horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting and geocaching.
Hudson-Meng Bison Bonebed
23 miles west on Hwy. 20 to Crawford, turn right onto Hwy. 2 north for 4.6 miles, turn left onto Toadstool Road for 7.9 miles to Sand Creek Road and turn left and travel 7 miles,
Over 10,000 years ago, hundreds of bison were killed mysteriously at this ancient spring and no one knows exactly what killed the 600 bison. Many theories exist about what killed the bison. Hudson-Meng has been originally excavated and interpreted as the largest Paleo-Indian-age bison kill site ever discovered.
Visitors can observe active archaeological excavations during the month of June. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ad-mission is $5 for adults; $4.50 for seniors; $3 for kids ages five to 12 and kids four and under are free.
Warbonnet and Yellowhair Monuments
23 miles west on Hwy. 20 toward Crawford, turn right onto Hwy. 2 and travel north, turn left onto Hat Creek Road for 10 miles and turn onto Montrose Road and park.
The monument is located north of the church and cemetery. An encounter between the 5th US Calvary and a group of Cheyenne Indians took place near Warbonnet Creek in 1876. The only fatality was Cheyenne warrior Yellow Hair who was killed by Buffalo Bill Cody. A memorial was constructed here to recognize the confrontation. Open year-round, entry is free.
Over 50 Miles
Agate Fossil Beds and Cook Collection
50 miles west on Hwy. 20 to Harrison, 22 miles south on Hwy. 29 and turn left on River Road for 2.5 miles,
The interpretive center features life-sized replicas of animals that roamed this area 20 million years ago as well as fossil and plant displays. Also for viewing is a rare collection of Native American artifacts given to James A. “Captain” Cook by Sioux Chief Red Cloud and his friends. The center is open year-round. The visitor center and museum is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the off season and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in summer.