Itinerary: Explore the great outdoors in Nebraska's panhandle

From state parks to fossil beds, this trip invites you to explore Northwest Nebraska's singular terrain and history—without skimping on the comforts of local eats and accommodations. 

Toadstool Geologic Park in Crawford, Nebraska

Toadstool Geologic Park

Local's Tip

Head to Toadstool Geologic Park in the evening to see a stellar countryside display of stars. 

Day 1
Start at helen's Pancake & Steak House

950 U.S. 20
Chadron, NE
United States

Carb-load for your adventure with a stack of Helen's pancakes. 

Tour Museum of the Fur Trade

6321 US Hwy. 20
Chadron, NE
United States

May 1 through October 31, drop into this museum dedicated to preserving the history of the North American fur trade, the first business in the New World. The Bordeaux Trading Post, built in 1837, stands on museum grounds. 

Chadron State Park Adventure

15951 US Hwy. 385
Chadron, NE
United States

Retreat to the panhandle's picturesque Pine Pidge at Nebraska's first state park. You'll discover trails for hiking and horseback riding, a swimming pool, modern campground and seasonal cabins. Park permit required. Camping fee.

Pull into Staabs Drive Inn

110 McPherson St.
Crawford, NE
United States

Drive into this local-favorite for juicy "Broaster" chicken, hearty sandwiches with classic sides, and ice cream treats. 

Explore Toadstool Geologic Park

4 mi. N. on NE Hwy. 2, W. on Toadstool Rd.
Crawford, NE
United States

The "moonscape" of the Badlands makes for unforgettable hiking—pick up a self-guided trail brochure to explore the area's fascinating geology. Day use and camping fees may apply.

Overnight at Our Heritage Guest Ranch B&B

1041 Toadstool Rd.
Crawford, NE
United States

Stay at this National Natural Landmark where pine-covered hills meet with badlands and prairie. Choose from onsite accommodations including a full home and barn lofts.  

Or, check into Olde Main Street Inn

115 Main St.
Chadron, NE
United States

308-432-3380

If you prefer to stay in town, check into this charming inn listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Hiking Nebraska's Chadron State Park

Chadron State Park 

Day 2
Kick off your day at Fort Robinson Cafe

3200 US Hwy. 20
Crawford, NE
United States

Memorial Day through Labor Day, the restaurant at Fort Robinson State Park serves a hearty breakfast—bacon, sausage, tantalizing cinnamon rolls and hot coffee—so you can start exploring the park first thing. 

Explore Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

301 River Rd.
Harrison, NE
United States

Start at the modern visitor center for exhibits and a movie exploring the Miocene-era findings made at this internationally recognized fossil site. Then, view American Indian artifacts in the onsite gallery and follow four miles of walking trails through scenic mixed-grass prairie to the historic excavation sites.

Visit Riverside Discovery Center

1600 S. Beltline Hwy. W.
Scottsbluff, NE
United States

There's plenty to see and do at this AZA-accredited zoo: 170 native and exotic animals from bison to tigers; native livestock breeds in the Heritage Barn, a petting zoo, playground, splash pad and dinosaur dig. 

Dine at The Tangled Tumbleweed

1823 Ave. A
Scottsbluff, NE
United States

Dine inside or outside of this transformed gas station for an inviting experience. You might share tapas plates or keep your entree to yourself with favorite menu items including prime rib skillets, bacon mac-and-cheese, pulled pork sliders and homemade desserts every week—plus a nice selection of wines and seasonal craft beers. 

Relax at Flyover Brewing Co.

1824 Broadway
Scottsbluff, NE
United States

Taste true-to-style lagers, ales and innovative local brew recipes at Flyover, the only craft brewery in the Nebraska Panhandle.

Check into Barn Anew B&B Country Retreat

170549 County Rd. L
Mitchell, NE
United States

Head just outside of town to reach Barn Anew. This 100-year-old barn in the shadow of Scotts Bluff National Monument has been renovated with queen beds and private baths so you can enjoy quiet, countryside moments. 

The Tangled Tumbleweed in Scottsbluff, Nebraska

The Tangled Tumbleweed

Day 3
Breakfast at The Mixing Bowl

1945 10th St.
Gering, NE
United States

Line up with the locals for a table at the Mixing Bowl, serving breakfast (and Sunday brunch) emphasizing local ingredients, creative flavors and homemade baked goods. Whether you go with the savory breakfast burritos or a sweet cinnamon roll, you'll be set for your next adventure.  

Visit Scotts Bluff National Monument

190276 Old Oregon Trail
Gering, NE
United States

Established in 1919 by Presidential proclamation, Scotts Bluff National Monument preserves and protects over 3,000 acres of mixed-grass prairie, rugged badlands, towering bluffs and historic trail remnants. On your visit, walk in the footsteps of pioneers on the Oregon, California, Mormon Pioneer and Pony Express Trails; then drive to the top of the bluff and take in the views. 

Lunch at Wind Break Bar & Grill

4552 Gilliland Dr.
Kimball, NE
United States

Check out Kimball's favorite restaurant for crave-able sandwiches, steaks, salads and Tex-Mex. 

Lake McConaughy & Lake Ogallala State Recreation Areas

1475 Hwy. 61 N.
Ogallala, NE
United States

While away an afternoon at Nebraska's largest reservoir. Water recreation, especially boating and fishing, are popular in summer, but winter hunting and opportunities for eagle-watching are plentiful. 

Tour Fort Sidney Museum Complex

544 Jackson St.
Sidney, NE
United States

Explore this museum, post commander's home and surrounding historic markers to learn of the area's former life as a 19th-century railroad town.

Experience Front Street Steakhouse Lounge & General Store

519 E. 1st St.
Ogallala, NE
United States

Channel the Old West with a trip to Front Street. This replica of an Old-West town features a restaurant and bar, free museum, general store and live street shows in summer. 

Scotts Bluff National Monument in Gering, Nebraska

Scotts Bluff National Monument