“A wonder of the West.”
Feel the awe and curiosity the pioneers experienced when they saw the most famous landmark on the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails. The Ethel and Christopher J. Abbott Visitor Center houses museum exhibits, a hands-on opportunity to "pack your wagon," and a video presentation that tells the story of the great migration West. A large inventory of books on western and trail history is available for purchase at the Chimney Rock Visitor Center. Chimney Rock is a prominent geological rock formation in Morrill County in western Nebraska. Rising nearly 300 feet above the surrounding North Platte River valley, the peak of Chimney Rock is 4,226 feet above sea level. During the middle 19th century it served as a landmark along the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the Mormon Trail, which ran along the north side of the rock. It is visible for many miles from the east along U.S. Route 26. When emigrants reached Chimney Rock and Scotts Bluff, their journey was one-third over. But more challenging terrain lay ahead as water, firewood and supply depots became more scarce. Buffalo herds that initially were a dependable food source for the emigrants also thinned out due to excessive killing.
We were pretty disappointed that there wasn't a good trail that went out to the Chimney. There is a visitors center with a view, but it's not great. If you keep driving down the road, there is another gravel lot with some better views (especially at sunset) next to the old Pioneer Cemetery. There is a very faint trail that takes you across a ravine and out into a field, but then you have to cross a barbed wire fence. If you look at an aerial map on Google, there is clearly a trail, but it is VERY difficult to elucidate on the ground (especially with all the warnings about rattle snakes everywhere). Overall, stop if you are passing, but probably not worth a trip out to it just for the scenery.
Great little museum, but there wasn't much for picnic spots and the Rangers weren't very friendly. It is a good quick stop on your way to break things up. Our kids enjoyed unloading and loading the mock wagon and getting their park passports stamped. Scottsbluff National monument down the road had more for the kids to do with a Junior Ranger program and etc.
can't get close to the tower. should have a walk way around or something. Museum is ok, but very small, it should have a path that you can take to see the formation up close. Was disappointed we could not get close
Chimney Rock is so cool. Whether you're an Oregon Trail fanboy or you just happen to be traveling down the highway, you've got to check out Chimney Rock. It's fascinating to behold, and it has a pretty cool history as a monument along the various emigrant trails.
See it if you are in the area. We were here for the 2017 total eclipse. It is an important part of American history and as such, worth the trip. The museum is small but informative, be sure to watch the movie. I'm giving it a 3 star experience because the woman who apparently has been working at the museum
For 20+ years was rude and unfriendly. We had a 3 pound chihuahua with us in our arms, she just had to say "no pets allowed". (She didn't seem to be sorry about it either, she clearly enjoyed sending us out with the pup.)
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Chimney Rock - National Historic Site
- Sun - Sat: 10:00 am - 4:30 pm
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