Scotts Bluff National Monument

Panoramic view of Scotts Bluff National Monument

You Have Died of Dysentery

After our wonderful stay at Papa Moon, we decided to stay in Scottsbluff for the week at Riverside Park Campground. Our site was just down the street from the city’s namesake – Scotts Bluff National Monument. We hiked several trails by the monument, including part of the Oregon Trail. It was an easy one mile out and back trail and it had an audio tour giving historic details as we walked along the path. There are several wagons along the trail to demonstrate the wagons used by families. Pulling one of the wagons is an ox who has clearly seen some things and his eyes are forever unclean. There aren’t any visible wheel ruts along the trail due to 150 years of erosion, but there is a wagon swale, which is a deep indentation created by the wagons traveling along Mitchell Pass.

Sun setting between the bluffs

Saddle Rock Trail

This was a fun and educational hike, because it also had an audio guided tour, and took us to the summit of Scotts Bluff. We learned that Scotts Bluff is named after the fur trader, Hiram Scott, who became too ill to travel and was left behind by fellow trappers. His remains were later found sixty miles away from where they abandoned him. We also learned that the bluff was an important landmark for not only the travelers along the Oregon Trail, but also the California, Pony Express, and Mormon Trails.

View from halfway up Saddle Rock Trail

Saddle Rock Trail starts out easy with a level path along the prairie and then we made our way up a steep path to a tunnel. This 100-foot tunnel was hand carved with mainly picks and shovels, because the rock layers were too soft to use any machinery.

View from halfway up Saddle Rock Trail

On the other side of the tunnel we were rewarded with an amazing view of the city of Scottsbluff.

View of Scottsbluff, NE from the Saddle Rock Trail

Next comes the fun part – switchbacks for days, which took us all the way up to Saddle Rock. The formation is so fragile you can’t go near it, but it is still striking from a distance.

Crumbling pieces of rock on Saddle Rock

On the way to the summit, the path took us right along the edge of the bluff, where the audio tour explains the layers of the bluff and how the bluff is ever changing due to erosion. We could feel the obvious difference in the layers, with the limestone being as hard as concrete and the sandstone easily coming off on Bryan’s fingertips.

Sandstone and limestome on Saddle Rock

Great, but did the cats have fun in Nebraska?

Yes. The weather was perfect, so we could leave the windows and screen door open, allowing for what we like to call “screen time.” They love sitting at the screen just daring a bug to come inside. During the day, Lumpy and Catalina sunbathed on the back of the chaise lounge, while Bryan and I worked long hours in order to pay for their extravagant lifestyle.

Car dinosaur
metal salmon sculpture
rusted station wagon