Wildcat Hills Loop Drive & Nature Center
We took Bruce & Sue in our truck for the “Scenic Loop Drive” stopping for a nature trail walk at the Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area, with views of the sandstone ridges.“The Wildcat Hills, pine-covered bluffs that rise abruptly from the plains, are some of Nebraska’s most ruggedly beautiful country. Eight miles south of Gering on Highway 71, the Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area and Nature Center offers hiking trails, picnic facilities and cross country skiing. The Nature Center has an auditorium, displays and educational opportunities in ecology, biology and geology."
The dominant tree in the region is the Ponderosa Pine and there were also many familiar desert plants that we have seen in So Cal & Arizona deserts such as sage brush, prickly pear cactus and yucca plants. Bighorn sheep, Pronghorn, Elk, mule deer, and wild turkeys live in and around these hills.
We continued our loop drive which took us past the famous pioneer landmark, Chimney Rock. This sandstone spire was the first sign visible to the pioneer wagon trains that they were nearing the end of the long journey across the plains following the North Platte River, and soon would be challenged with mountains and then the Rockies after that.
If you would like to see more information, click here on Chimney Rock National Historic Site.
Here is also more information about The Courthouse and Jail Rock.
After our adventure we went with Bruce & Susan for happy hour at the Scottsbluff Elks again, we needed to use us our “chips” (when an Elk buys you a drink and you’re not ready for one yet, you get a chip to use later).
Across the street from the Elks Lodge is an interesting mural of the Wildcat Hills to Scottsbluff with images spanning the ages from the Pioneer Wagon Trains (on the right), thru Telegraph, Telephone, Cell phones to satellites (on the left).
We had a lot of fun and laughs at the lodge and then went giggling into dinner at Whiskey Creek Steakhouse. Filling our tummies with great steakhouse food settled us down for a relaxing evening. Then an evening storm came through with thunder, wind & some rain. At least the rain is in the evening so we can still go sight seeing during the day.