nebraska

Nebraska National Forest | Travel (94/556)

Nebraska National Forest | Travel (94/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) Most of my time in Nebraska National Forest was in the Pine Ridge Ranger District near Chadron, Nebraska. With over 80 miles of trails in this district alone, I found plenty of miles to occupy my time.

Nebraska National Forest | Travel (94/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Black Hills Overlook - accessible from the Outrider Trailhead, 1.5 miles each way.
  2. Pine Ridge National Recreation Area - the main access point to this 6,600 acre area is at Roberts Trailhead.
  3. Pine Ridge Trail - the forest service is working on a new trail, linking the entire Pine Ridge Trail system from West Ash Creek to Spotted Tail.
  4. Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway - Highway 2 passes Nebraska National Forest at Halsey and heads north toward Pine Ridge.
  5. Soldier Creek Wilderness - provides habitat for various wildlife, including bald eagles, bobcats and elk.

Tell me all about your favorite hikes and places to explore, in the comments below!

Nebraska National Forest | Travel (94/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument | Travel (93/556)

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument | Travel (93/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) If visiting during the summer, like me, be sure to plan hikes in the morning or late afternoon hours. Agate Fossil Beds National Monument has three great hikes, all out in the open and completely exposed to the sun.

The Daemonelix Trail is one mile in length. In addition to seeing spiral burrows up close, you will also see ancient sand dunes and fossil grassland soils.

Fossil Hills Trail is the second hiking option in the park at 2.7 miles in length. This paved trail crosses the Niobrara River and its wetlands, mixed-grass prairie, followed by Carnegie Hill and University Hill.

A one mile, unpaved side trail to Harold J. Cook's homestead cabin is located off the entrance road.

The visitor center also has a great exhibit worth checking out before or after hitting the trails.

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument | Travel (93/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Scotts Bluff National Monument | Travel (92/556)

Scotts Bluff National Monument | Travel (92/556) | Alaina Ann Photography While driving into Scotts Bluff National Monument, my jaw dropped as the bluff and badlands came into close view. My favorite part of exploring was walking on the Oregon Trail, trekked by the pioneers many years ago.

It was a quiet summer morning with very few other visitors in the park.

Scotts Bluff National Monument | Travel (92/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. North Overlook Trail - a short half mile trail offering fantastic views of the badlands and North Platte River valley.
  2. Oregon Trail Pathway - when the surface of the trail changes from pavement to dirt, you are walking on the Oregon Trail. Due to erosion, the wagon wheel ruts are no longer visible.
  3. Saddle Rock Trail - a strenuous 1.6 mile trail (each way) allows you to reach the summit of Scotts Bluff on foot.
  4. South Overlook Trail - another short trail, only .4 miles in length. This trail overlooks Mitchell Pass and the Oregon Trail.
  5. Summit Road - open year round, this scenic 1.6 mile drive takes you to the summit of Scotts Bluff and through the only three vehicular tunnels in Nebraska.

Tell me all about your favorite spots and experiences from Scotts Bluff National Monument in the comments below!

Scotts Bluff National Monument | Travel (92/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest | Travel (91/556)

Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest | Travel (91/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) My time in Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest, in Nebraska, was filled with unexpected wild turkey encounters, a lovely little hike, beautiful water views and some curious cows. Quite the mix for the Nebraska Sandhills!

Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest | Travel (91/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. 16F - drive along this prairie road and enjoy the views.
  2. Blue Jay Trail - a one mile nature trail through the national forest.
  3. Merritt Reservoir - this recreation area is a deep lake, feeding off the Snake River and Boardman Creek.
  4. Niobrara Canoe Launch - a day use site located on the Niobrara River.
  5. Steer Creek Campground - this is the only overnight campground in the national forest. Also has access to the one mile Blue Jay trail.

Tell me all about your favorite spots in the comments below!

Niobrara National Scenic River | Travel (90/556)

Niobrara National Scenic River | Travel (90/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) Nebraska was the final continental state on my list to visit. Niobrara National Scenic River was a lovely area and a perfect introduction to Nebraska. Filled with waterfalls, sandstone cliffs, numerous hikes and beautiful views, this scenic river is definitely worth exploring.

Niobrara National Scenic River | Travel (90/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Float the River - the best way to experience the river is in a canoe, kayak, raft or tube.
  2. Berry Bridge - offers a great view of the river and a family owned campground is nearby.
  3. Berry Falls - a small waterfall along the Niobrara River, east of Valentine.
  4. River Road - paved and unpaved road along the Niobrara River. May be impassable on the unpaved portion when wet.
  5. Smith Falls - the tallest waterfall in Nebraska at 63 feet.

Tell me all about your favorite spots along the Niobrara National Scenic River in the comments below!

Niobrara National Scenic River | Travel (90/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Missouri National Recreational River | Travel (89/556)

Missouri National Recreational River | Travel (89/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) My time exploring Missouri National Recreational River was swift, bouncing from South Dakota to Nebraska, as daylight quickly faded.

The water was intense and angry as wind speeds increased along the river.

After enjoying a few overlooks, I parked in Lewis & Clark State Recreation Area watching the sun dip out of sight.

For things to do in and around the river, check out this National Park Service page.

Would love to hear about your favorite spots in the comments below!