|Distance||0.1 miles roundtrip|
- Visit the highest point in Nebraska
- See a herd of bison
Panorama Point is an excellent name for this relatively flat area slightly elevated above its surroundings; the sheer lack of trees and endless sky of the Great Plains means you can see for miles and miles into Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming. It's particularly pretty when the grass is green, and sunny skies are the only thing that would have improved my experience. Click the picture below for a panorama shot of the amazing scenery you'll see here.The sign pictured earlier doesn't mention anything about dogs, but respect this private property by keeping your dog on leash -- especially important since this is a bison range -- and picking up after it. While your kids may not appreciate the long hours in the car and bumpy dirt roads required to get here, I bet they'll be interested in seeing where the buffalo roam and the sky isn't cloudy all day. You can visit any time of the year but heavy rain or snow will impede passage and cause the gate to be locked. I'd be shocked if you saw another person while out here. On a final note, mosquitoes feasted on me in the few minutes I spent taking pictures and signing the highpoint registry book, something that surprised me considering I hiked in forest outside of Omaha that morning and in Pine Bluffs just before arriving here without any bloodsuckers bothering me -- it's definitely worth wearing long sleeves and pants and/or spraying yourself as soon as you exit the car.
At some point on your drive to the highpoint, you'll probably see the bison herd that resides on this property -- click to enlarge the picture below and zoom in on the black dots near the horizon. It's amazing to think these beasts used to roam the 12 states and 3 Canadian provinces making up the Great Plains, a vast swath of land that looks much like your current surroundings rather than the cornfields and ranches that now dominate the plains. Upon exiting your car, you'll see the stone monument pictured below, an old metal desk with a drawer containing the registry if you want to sign, and a bench. It's strange to think that you are standing over a mile above sea level, especially since there wasn't any physical exertion involved in arriving here. In fact, this highpoint is the second highest in the Midwest and higher than the much more difficult mountain highpoints of Maine and New York. Nebraska might seem flat to the naked eye, but in fact much of it is gradually sloping upward as you travel from east to west! And there you have it, the third state highpoint I've achieved and another unique destination I probably wouldn't have ever visited if not for that designation. This wasn't much of a hike, so I highly recommend returning to Pine Bluffs and hiking the beautiful pine strewn landscape to the south of town. Keep exploring, and be sure to use #nocoastbestcoast on Twitter and Instagram!
What used to be a difficult series of turns on unmarked dirt roads is greatly simplified by using Google Maps. However, it's always good to have a backup, and I recommend visiting SummitPost to save their map and written directions they have (screenshot them with your phone for offline use). One change I suggest is to exit Interstate 80 in Pine Bluffs, WY no matter which direction you are coming from because it cuts out a lot of driving on dirt roads -- you can also exit in Bushnell, NE for a slightly shorter route, but it takes about the same time as the other way because it is all dirt roads.
Exit Interstate 80 in Pine Bluffs, WY just west of the Nebraska border (there's only one exit for this town). Turn right, then turn right immediately on 8th Street. (Side note, if you turn left after exiting the interstate, there's a rest area with bathrooms and access to some pretty nature trails.) Turn right on Beech Avenue and continue straight as the road turns into County Road 164. This road is almost perfectly straight after you go up the bluffs; you'll turn left ahead on County Road 203, a gravel road that is easy to find because County Road 164 bends near that intersection. Follow this road as it curves right then left until you reach the intersection with County Road 5. Turn right, then you'll pass the farmhouse of the property owners and eventually see a gate with a sign on the right. Pay your entry fee here, then follow the one lane dirt road until you reach the highpoint marker. Note that the property owners may lock the gate if the road is impassible due to weather, and since this is an active bison range, hiking is dangerous and prohibited as emphasized on the entrance sign pictured below -- don't hop the fence!
Google Maps Directions
Parking, Fees, and Facilities
The entrance fee is $3 as you can see in the picture above, payable with cash only by dropping an envelope in the metal slot near the gates. Although there is no way to enforce payment here, understand that this highpoint is on private property and the owners have graciously opened their land to the public, something that is not without cost. Your payment helps ensure this destination remains open to the public for generations to come. There are no facilities here, so I recommend using the rest area in Pine Bluffs before or after.