The Nebraska Panhandle is an expanse upon the central plains of Nebraska. It features what some would call a never ending sky amid deep canyons and pine forests. It is often considered the most scenic area of Nebraska.
- Pine Ridge Indian Reservation - home of the Oglala Lakota
- Wildcat Hills - known for its scenic rock formations
- Niobrara River Valley - world renowned hunting and fishing, a must for any outdoorsman
- Prairie Lakes
- Box Butte
- Scotts Bluff
Cities and Towns
- Scottsbluff - a decent sized town located near Scotts Bluff National Monument
- Chadron - a mid-sized town known for Chadron State College
- Crawford - near historic Fort Robinson
- Sidney - home of Cabela's, Nebraska's largest flagpole, and Historic Fort Sidney
- Alliance - home of the imfamous Carhenge
- Bayard - near Chimney Rock National Historic Site
- Chimney Rock National Historic Site
- Scotts Bluff National Monument - historic Rock formations along the Oregon Trail.
This region of Nebraska is sparsely populated. Therefore, many places you go have a down home, small town feel. Though the small town feel will be appealing to most, it also means there is a lack of diversity.
There is a small but sizable minority of Hispanic people moving to the area yet not enough for a knowledge of the Spanish language would be required. The Oglala Lakota are a prominent Native American tribe in the region so you may be inclined to know some of their language and customs if you plan on visiting Pine Ridge. Also, at one time there was a large influx of Scandinavian and German immigrants to the region, though extremely uncommon there are still some areas that have elderly speakers of their native tongue.
For the most part people traveling along I-80 will see the southern part of the Panhandle. The major airport is Nebraska Western Regional Airport (BFF).
The recommended mode of transport through this area is by car. However, keep in mind that there areas of interest that can only be observed either by hiking or horseback riding. There are still some railroads that stop in this area.
- Carhenge in Alliance is a really great monument and satirical version of England's Stonehenge. It is completely made of real cars.
- Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, 301 River Road, Harrison, ☎ +1 308 668-2211, fax: +1 308 668-2318. Daily dawn until dusk; Visitor Center: Memorial Day-Labor Day - Daily 8AM-6PM; Off Season - Daily 8AM-4PM; Closed Christmas, New Years, and Thanksgiving. Fossils of ancient mammals, Native American history, hiking. There is no camping at the monument. Free.
- Also don't miss Chimney Rock National Historic Site in Morrill County.
- No trip to this region would be complete without stopping at the Toadstool Geologic Park located in the Oglala National Grasslands northwest of Chadron.
- Stop in at any of the numerous Dude Ranches in this region and have a home cooked meal on the plains.
- The adventurous may want to try Kayaking on the Niobrara River.
- Hop over to Sidney and catch a show at the Cabaret Theatre.
Nebraska is known for its beef. While most of it is processed in Omaha, a lot of it is raised on ranches in the panhandle. This area is known for its authentic cowboy-style meals. Portions tend to be large and the food is heavy. Also Rocky Mountain Oysters are a popular and sometime humorous dish to consume in the Panhandle. They are fried bull testicles. Eating them is generally a sign of fertility and courage. Runzas, a German bread pocket full of beef and vegetables, are also popular throughout this region.
One thing to observe while ordering a beer in Nebraska is that beer poured into a glass is usually referred to as a draw.
This area is known for hazardous winter conditions and hot summers although seasonable weather is far from rare. Weather conditions can change quite quickly so keep informed. Various poisonous snakes including Rattlesnakes and dangerous animals such as mountain lion and big horn sheep are found in this region especially in the hills. Caution is advised during outdoor excursions. Crime in this area is considerably lower than other areas of the nation. Locals are often willing to aid those in need however the low population density means fewer amenities including hospitals.
The Panhandle region of Nebraska is usually passed through on the way to Mount Rushmore National Memorial if you're coming from Texas or on the way to Yellowstone if you are coming from the Eastern Sea Board.