Western Trails Historic & Scenic Byway
About This Trip
This historic 144-mile route along U.S. Highway 26 and Nebraska Highway 92 from Ogallala to the Wyoming border mirrors the vast solitude surely felt by the pioneers nearly 200 years ago.
Towering geological formations, pine-shaded bluffs, wagon wheel ruts, Old West storefronts, and the state’s premier recreation lake.
Front Street in Ogallala will ignite the imaginations of little ones. Stop by the Old West town replica for shootouts and dancing featuring cowboys and showgirls. Also within Front Street is the Petrified Wood Gallery. This natural history gallery specializes in ancient woods, fossils, and American Indian artifacts. Ogallala is home to Big Mac, or Lake McConaughy—the largest inland lake in the region. It’s a water lover’s paradise and offers white-sand beaches, excellent fishing, and relaxing boat lounges.
At Ash Hollow State Historical Park near Lewellen, prehistoric Nebraska comes to life through the many fossils displayed on-site. If bird and wildlife watching interest you, plan a scenic drive to Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge, a half hour north of Oshkosh. The refuge has the third-most-documented number of bird species in the country. Go for the peak songbird migration in mid-May, and catch the peak fall season in September.
Courthouse and Jail Rocks near Bridgeport are two of the first rock formations pioneers came across on their way west. Near Bayard, visit the Chimney Rock National Historic Site and Visitors Center, one of the most recognized landmarks in pioneer history. You can even enjoy an authentic wagon ride with the Oregon Trail Wagon Train.
See wagon ruts and take in a breathtaking view of the North Platte River Valley at Scotts Bluff National Monument near Gering. Afterwards, enjoy a panoramic view of the National Monument as you sip a refreshing glass of wine at the Prairie Vine Vineyard and Winery. Treat your family to a wild time at the Riverside Zoo in Scottsbluff. This impressive facility features more than 200 animals representing more than 75 animal species from around the world.
Enjoy pine-covered canyons and rugged rock buttes at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center south of Gering. Nestled within the Wildcat Hills, the nature center is located in one of the most beautiful regions of Nebraska. An abundance of native wildlife can be enjoyed from the information center’s deck or along the more than three miles of hiking trails throughout the park.
Start in Ogallala
31 miles west on US-26 to Lewellen
12 miles west on US-26 to Oshkosh
46 miles west on US-26 to Bridgeport
16 miles west on US-26 to Bayard
23 miles west on US-26 to Scottsbluff (or) 23 miles west on NE-92 to Gering