Scotts Bluff National Monument | Outdoorsy

Scotts Bluff National Monument
Guide

Introduction

Standing at a colossal 800 feet above the North Platte River, Scotts Bluff National Monument is a stunning landmark and fantastic destination for RV travelers. Scotts Bluff National Monument is located in
Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska and it has served as a very important landmark for Native Americans, Mormon's, emigrants, and modern travelers.

Scotts Bluff National Monument is massive, covering 3000 acres, and includes two separate bluffs known "South Bluff" and the northern bluff "Scotts Bluff." The monument also features five major outcroppings on the bluffs, known as Dome Rock, Crown Rock, Sentinel Rock, Eagle Rock, and Saddle Rock. The monument has a long history that dates back to when Native American tribes lived and traveled through the area. It was first charted by non-native people in 1812 by the Astorian Expedition of fur traders who were traveling along the nearby river. It was originally named after Hiram Scott who was a clerk for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company and died near the bluff in 1828. It is believed that around 250,000 westward emigrants passed by Scotts Bluff between 1843 and 1869, making it the second-most referred to landmark on the Emigrant Trails in pioneer journals and diaries.

Since being declared a national monument in 1919 the it has become a very popular attraction. It is a great place for people seeking recreational hiking opportunities or for those seeking to learn more about its history thanks to the fantastic Oregon Trail Museum and Visitor Center. There are also daily interpretive programs offered by park rangers and on the weekends you can travel back in time with character reenactments and living history talks.

While there is no RV camping available at Scotts Bluff National Monument, Lake Minatare State Recreation Area is close by and offers RV campsites. You will have the choice between both primitive and non-primitive sites to call home. Scotts Bluff National Monument is open all year round.

Park Alerts (1)

[Information] Saddle Rock Trailhead

Due to the renovation of the Visitor Center, the trailhead to the Saddle Rock Trail is now at the base of the Summit Road. All trail users must use this new route for safety reasons. Directional signage has been placed near the parking lot.

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Camping Accommodations

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RV Rentals in Scotts Bluff National Monument

Transportation

Driving

Getting to and from Scotts Bluff National Monument is very straightforward thanks to the area being located near the city of Scottsdale. Scottsdale is the largest city in the Nebraska Panhandle and the 13th largest city in Nebraska. If you need anything we recommend that you stop in Scottsdale and you will be able to find all of the supplies that you will need. Besides Scottsdale there are also some other small towns near the monument, including Melbeta (around 10 miles away), Mitchell (around 12 miles away), and Morrill (around 18 miles away).

The roads in and around the monument are kept in very good condition and there are no known obstacles that will hinder your drive to it. Due to the road to the summit featuring three tunnels and many sharp turns you will not able able to drive your RV up to it. If you do want to go to the summit there is a summit shuttle bus that is available to visitors seasonally.

During the winter time the park does stay open but the area is known to get snowfalls larger than the United States average. If you are planning to visit the park during this time, it's best to call the monument directly before you begin your trip to confirm that it will still be open.

Parking

There is plenty of parking available at Scotts Bluff National Monument.

Public Transportation

There are no public transportation options that will take you to Scotts Bluff National Monument.

Campgrounds and parking in Scotts Bluff National Monument

Campsites in Scotts Bluff National Monument

Reservations camping

Lake Minatare State Recreation Area

Located 12 miles northeast of the monument, you'll find Lake Minatare State Recreation Area. This park is a waterfowl refuge and home to Nebraska's only lighthouse. There are RV campsites here with electrical hookups and if you are willing to forego the hookup, there are also 100 primitive sites available around the lake.

Enjoy plenty of amenities here including showers, restrooms, and laundry facilities. There are picnic tables and fire grills and a dump station is located onsite. There's tons of things to do simply by virtue of being so close to the lake. Go on a hike, launch a boat into the water, or clean your catch of the day, all without leaving the convenience of the campground.

Seasonal activities in Scotts Bluff National Monument

Summer

Oregon Trail Museum and Visitor Center

Your first stop when arriving at Scotts Bluff National Monument should be to the Oregon Trail Museum and Visitor Center. The visitor center was originally built in stages between 1935 and 1949 and features three rooms that show off the history of America's westward expansion, a book and gift sales area, a room dedicated to the display of William Henry Jackson's drawings/paintings, and a room displaying the geologic and paleontological history of the area.

Interpretive Programs

If you are looking to learn even more about the history of Scotts Bluff National Monument, check out one of the park's great interpretive programs. Park rangers offer the programs every day during the summer time.

The rangers inform visitors of the importance of the bluffs geology, the variety of flowers that bloom on the plains, and the human history of the area. On the weekends there are extra special interpretive programs that you will have to see to believe.

Fall

Hiking

The most popular recreational activity at Scotts Bluff National Monument is to get outdoors and go hiking. There are five different trails that are available for you to explore.

The historic Oregon Trail Pathway that over 350,000 people traveled west past Scotts Bluff is a good place to start. Expect to see short and mixed-grass prairie, wildflowers, native trees and shrubs, and many species of birds and mammals if you do go hiking.

Winter

Birding

Thanks to the large area of the park (3,000 acres) you will have plenty of opportunities to go birding during your visit to Scotts Bluff National Monument.

During the month of February, the park is home to a special event known as the The Great Backyard Bird Count. During the count you are welcome to join a ranger who will drive you out to an area of the park to identify and count birds. This is part of the worldwide effort to track where and how many birds are around the globe.

Spring

Picnicking

Want to enjoy a relaxing picnic in the great outdoors? If so, Scotts Bluff National Monument is a great option. Located just east of the visitor center near the extended parking area, the park is equipped with three covered picnic tables for visitors to use free of charge.

Each of the three tables offers great views of Dome Rock and the surrounding prairie vista so make sure you bring your camera to get some great pics. All three of the tables are available on a first come, first served basis only so make sure you arrive early in the day to guarantee yourself a spot.

The Summit Road

Without a doubt the most scenic way to enjoy Scotts Bluff National Monument is to take a drive on the Summit Road. Built in the 1930's, the road will allow you to reach the top of the bluff and experience the only three vehicular tunnels in the state of Nebraska.

If you have an RV, a shuttle service is available for you so that you don't have to miss out on seeing the views. You can also take the shuttle if you are interested in hiking one-way down Saddle Rock Trail.