On my recent drive (from Fort Collins, Colorado to Rapid City, South Dakota), I stopped in the small town of Bayard, Nebraska. Here that you’ll find one of Nebraska’s most iconic landscapes – Chimney Rock. Chimney Rock served as an important landmark for westward travelers in the 19th and early 20th centuries, because it rises approximately 300 feet above the landscape . Just a few miles north of the rock, you’ll find the Oregon Trail, California Trail, and Mormon Trail. It is said that Chimney Rock was the most referenced landmark in the writings of these brave pioneers. You may ask yourself just how important is this landmark in the hearts and minds of Nebraskans today? In 2006, Nebraska’s State Quarter was released and featured Chimney Rock. You’ll even find the landmark on Nebraska’s welcome signs.
To protect the eroding rock formation, travelers are not allowed on the rock. It is best to visit the headquarters for the Chimney Rock National Historic Site (Chimney Rock Rd, Bayard). The headquarters will feature incredible views and an interesting museum about the area’s history and the pioneer’s way of life. The area has multiple signs warning visitors to watch out for rattlesnakes. I didn’t see one, but it added to my sense of adventure! You’ll only need 30-60 minutes to fully experience the site, making it a perfect pit-stop along the way.
Side note: Just north of Chimney Rock (along Hwy 26), you can see the Oregon Trail. There’s a sign, and makes for a pretty good photo opportunity for anyone who was a kid in the ’80s, and loved the game.
RATING: I give Chimney Rock a 4 star rating (out of 5) for the Roadside Attraction category. I estimate that the average person would want to spend 30-60 minutes here.
When travelling by car, I like to find landmarks along the way. Oftentimes, these pit stops are opportunities to discover unusual or interesting places that might not have enough wow-factor to keep you entertained for a full weekend. These brief stories will be featured in our “Along The Way” section of our website. For your next road trip, check out this section, and find some side-adventures of your own.