Scotts Bluff National Monument

Overview

A prominent natural landmark for emigrants on the Oregon Trail, Scotts Bluff, Mitchell Pass and the adjacent prairie lands are set aside in a 3,000 acre national monument. This site preserves the memory of the historic Oregon, California and Mormon Trails. The monument museum contains exhibits about the human and natural history of the area and also holds a unique collection of watercolor paintings by the frontier photographer and artist William Henry Jackson.

The Scotts Bluff National Monument's Presidential Proclamation states that Scotts Bluff has "scientific interest ... from a geologic standpoint." The scientific interest of this site has been apparent since the late 1890s when the U.S. Geological Survey made the first formal geologic investigation of the area. Geologic publications relating to Scotts Bluff number at least nine and the area continues to be the subject of investigation. Although it appears the geology of Scotts Bluff has been well studied, the statement in the proclamation helps focus on one of the primary natural resources of the Monument, its geology.

Scotts Bluff is a topographic feature rising to 4,659 feet above sea level and 800 feet above the North Platte River. The geology of Scotts Bluff is significant from a natural resource standpoint because it affords a view of 740 feet of continuous geologic strata that spans a time period extending from 33 to 22 million years before present. This north face of Scotts Bluff has exposed the most geologic history of any location in the state of Nebraska. Visitors can easily view this resource while walking the Saddle Rock Trail.

Map

Seasonality / Weather

Scotts Bluff National Monument is open seven days a week with the exception of January 1, Thanksgiving Day, and December 25.

Directions

Driving: 

Visitors traveling east-west on Interstate 80 can exit at Kimball, Nebraska, and drive 45 miles north on Highway 71. Follow National Park Service signs 2 miles west of Gering, Nebraska, on State Highway 92. Visitors following the old Oregon Trail along the North Platte River using State Highways 26 or 92, should follow National Park Service signs.