Itinerary: Spring Birding Experience in North Platte

Every spring, the most incredible migration event in the world passes through the North Platte area. More than 200,000 Sandhill Cranes will spend about six weeks in the North Platte River valley fortifying themselves for the nesting period to come. While they are here, they will engage in beautiful courtship and pair-bonding behaviors. This is a spectacle you can't experience anywhere else.

Sandhill Crane Flying

Local's Tip

Remember to dress warm and layer up! Oftentimes, the viewing site is wet and marshy, with the best times for viewing being morning and evening, which means it can be a bit brisk, and you wouldn’t want your chattering teeth to spook the birds.

Day 1
Espresso Shop

419 N. Dewey Street
North Platte, NE
United States

(308) 534-9550

Rule number one, birders are up and at ‘em before the birds, which means you should probably start your morning bright and early with a cup of freshly brewed coffee and a plate of hot breakfast at the Espresso Shop.

Dusty Trails Outfitter-Morning Sandhill Crane Blind Tour

2617 N. Buffalo Bill Avenue
North Platte, NE
United States

(308) 530-0048

On this tour, you will venture through the marsh and wetlands to reach the Dusty Trails viewing site; a premier spot along the Platte River that provides breathtaking views and the perfect photo op for birders hoping to capture the incredible sight.

Luigi's Italian Restaurant

502 S. Jeffers Street
North Platte, NE
United States

(308) 221-2961

After your morning on the riverbank, warm both your insides and out with authentic Italian cuisine from Luigi’s Italian Restaurant.

Dusty Trails Outfitter-Sandhill Crane Driving Tour

2617 N. Buffalo Bill Avenue
North Platte, NE
United States

(308) 530-0048

Hop back on the bus for a tour through the Platte River Valley to observe the cranes and learn more about their migration patterns, mating rituals and behaviors. This information will be helpful upon heading back out to the river. Now you’ll be able to recognize and identify different avian behaviors exhibited by the cranes.

The Cedar Room

505 S. Dewey Street
North Platte, NE
United States

(308) 532-4825

Lose the coveralls and opt for more formal attire for dinner at The Cedar Room. Enjoy a meal from the restaurant’s extensive American Fusion menu and an expertly mixed cocktail from The Cocktail Lounge.

Dusty Trails Outfitter-Evening Sandhill Blind Tour

2617 N. Buffalo Bill Avenue
North Platte, NE
United States

(308) 530-0048

After dinner, you’re headed back to the viewing blind to say goodnight to the Sandhill Cranes. The cranes are most active in the evenings, with much of the flock’s socializing taking place in the hours before their bedtime.

North Platte Lodging Options

North Platte, NE
United States

Sandhill Cranes
Day 2
Pop Corner

1847 W. A Street
North Platte, NE
United States

(308) 532-0323

Grab a homemade breakfast sandwich (or a bag of popcorn, it’s kind of like breakfast food) before another big day of birding.

Dusty Trails Outfitter-Prairie Chicken Tour

2617 N. Buffalo Bill Avenue
North Platte, NE
United States

(308) 530-0048

Watch as the sun rises above the amazing sights and sounds of the largest Prairie Chicken lek in the state.

Birding Term: A “lek” is a mating ritual used by many different species of birds during which male birds will vie for the attention of females using various visual and aural displays.

Good Life on the Bricks

402 N. Dewey Street
North Platte, NE
United States

(308) 252-1044

Dig in to unique pizzas, delicious sandwiches and juicy burgers at Good Life on the Bricks. Opened in 2019 by North Platte local, Zach Hiebner, this restaurant is passionate about serving exceptional food with exceptional service.

Cottonwood Canyon Self-Guided Scenic Drive

North Platte, NE
United States

Buckle up for a scenic drive through the hills and canyons of the Sandhills. Be sure to bring your bird identification book and try to spot some of the area’s native species like the Burrowing Owl, Blue Grosbeak, Canvasback and more.

Local’s Tip: Make sure to start the tour with a full tank of gas; due to the changing geography throughout the drive, there will be little to no cell service for the majority of the trip.

Switchyard Grill & Pub

520 N. Jeffers Street
North Platte, NE
United States

(308) 221-6688

After a full day of birding, you’re bound to have a hankering for a hearty meal, which is exactly what you can expect at Switchyard Grill & Pub.

Wild Horse Canyon Self-Guided Scenic Drive

East on Highway 30
North Platte, NE
United States

Head out on one last aviary expedition to meet more of the area’s native species including the Eastern Kingbird, Great Blue Heron, Horned Lark and Pied-Billed Grebe.

North Platte Lodging Options

North Platte, NE
United States

At the end of your North Platte birding experience, we’re wishing you “fowl” dreams.

Prairie Chicken Dance