Where is Scotts Bluff National Monument Located?
The monument is located near Gering, Nebraska, USA
- Website: Scotts Bluff National Monument
- Visitor center and Summit Road hours vary seasonally. Check website for details.
- Summit Road scenic drive.
- Hiking, biking trails.
- Exceptional museum and visitor center.
- Accommodations and restaurants in the city of Scottsbluff.
First things first… Please note that we have not misspelled the name of the monument or the name of the city near where it is located. Scotts Bluff (two words) is correct for the name of the national monument. Scottsbluff (one word) is correct for the name of the city. Now on to Scotts Bluff…
Scotts Bluff National Monument is: 96 miles from Cheyenne, Wyoming — 195 miles from Denver, Colorado — 200 miles from Rapid City, South Dakota
Cheyenne has a regional airport that is served by several national carriers, so our trip is going to start in the capital city of Wyoming.
Travel tip: we recommend a stop at the Cheyenne Depot Museum. Learn how this historic depot was instrumental in the development of Cheyenne as well as its importance during the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. Here’s a link: Cheyenne Depot.
⇒From Cheyenne take I-80 east via Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. At Kimball, Nebraska, take Highway 71 north to Scottsbluff. Drive time between Cheyenne, Wyoming and Scottsbluff, Nebraska: 1.75 hours.
Destination: Scotts Bluff National Monument
The first stop upon arriving at the monument should be the Oregon Trail Museum and Visitor Center. Learn about the significance of the bluff as a landmark for pioneers who were traveling west on the Oregon, Mormon Pioneer, and California Trails as well as the Pony Express Trail. This outstanding museum also holds the world’s largest collection of artworks by the renowned artist and photographer, William Henry Jackson. Plan to spend some time in the museum before taking Summit Road to the top of the bluff.
Drive your own vehicle to the top of the bluff or take the park’s shuttle. There is a trail at the top with excellent views of the features of the monument, the city of Scottsbluff and surrounding communities, as well as the North Platte River. We spent over an hour walking the trail and taking advantage of the great photo ops.
Travel tip: Some vehicles will not be able to navigate the sharp turns and tunnels on Summit Road. For those who have large vehicles or RVs, check with the park before attempting this drive.
Significance of the Monument
Four historic trails passed through Scotts Bluff National Monument at Mitchell Pass, which lies between Eagle Rock and Sentinel Rock. Wagon wheel ruts can still be seen in Mitchell Pass today. Here is an excerpt from the National Park Service’s website:
“The bluffs of Scotts Bluff National Monument rise directly from the North Platte River, blocking wagon travel along the river’s south bank. At first, emigrants had to take a detour south and use Robidoux Pass, a natural gateway, to get through the bluffs. This mostly stopped in 1850 when a new route was opened at Mitchell Pass. Located close to the North Platte River, this route saved emigrants nearly 15 miles of travel. The route, though, was narrow, due to the land’s geography. As such, more than 300,000 emigrants, and their wagons and livestock, had to travel on the same strip of land.”
For information about the historic trails, click on their links below:
- Oregon National Historic Trail
- California National Historic Trail
- Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail
- Pony Express National Historic Trail
Five Landmark Rocks
Now we going to take a short jaunt to another important landmark on the Oregon Trail.
⇒Side trip: Chimney Rock National Historic Site. From Scottsbluff, take Highway 92 east approximately 21 miles, and follow the signs to the visitor center.
Chimney Rock is the iconic symbol of Nebraska and was an important landmark to the pioneers traveling the Oregon trail. Learn all about it at the Abbott Visitor Center.
Chimney Rock actually sits on private property. Visitors can view the rock from the visitor center or from the road.
Thank you for joining us on our trip to Scotts Bluff National Monument. Please let us know if you have questions about this trip or any of our trips. Leave us a message/comment below and tell us about your own trips. We love hearing from you.
Need more national park road trip inspiration? Check these out:
Devils Tower Road Trip: Things to Do
Antietam National Battlefield
Fort Union National Monument
Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!
Mike and Kellye
As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.