Part of our in-depth series exploring Sioux Nation Forts
Scotts Bluff National Monument
190276 Old Oregon Trail
Gering, NE 69341
Named for fur trapper Hiram Scott, this imposing natural formation was originally called ma-a-pa-te ("hill that is hard to go around") by Indians in the region. Scotts Bluff, rising 800 ft. above the surrounding valley floor, and 4649 ft. above sea level, was a famous landmark along the Oregon Trail. The bluff was once part of the ancient High Plains, but erosion over long periods has cut down the surrounding valleys to their present level.
This has left Scotts Bluff and the adjoining hills as remnants of the unbroken plains which now lie further to the west. The Visitor Center and the Oregon Trail Museum highlights the historical and geographic significance of the formation. You can drive to the top on Summit Road, or follow one of the numerous hiking trails for a fabulous outdoor adventure. The Visitor's Center at the base of the monument explains life in pioneer times through photographs, video, and books.
A prominent natural landmark for emigrants on the Oregon Trail, Scotts Bluff, Mitchell Pass and the adjacent prairie lands are set aside in a 3,000 acre national monument. This site preserves the memory of the historic Oregon, California and Mormon Trails. The monument museum contains exhibits about the human and natural history of the area and also holds a unique collection of watercolor paintings by the frontier photographer and artist William Henry Jackson.
Visitors traveling east-west on Interstate 80 can exit at Kimball, Nebraska and drive 45 miles north on Highway 71. Follow National Park Service signs three miles west of Gering, Nebraska on Old Oregon Trail (State Highway 92 West).
Visitors following Old Oregon Trail along the North Platte River using State Highway 26 or 92, should follow the National Park Service signs.
Hours of Operation
Scotts Bluff National Monument is open seven days a week with the exception of January 1, Thanksgiving Day, and December 25.
Oregon Trail Museum and Visitor Center
Summer Season* - 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Off Season - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Summer Season* - 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Off Season - 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
The monument trails are open from sunrise to sunset throughout the year.
* Summer Season is Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
Now free, but donations are accepted.
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