Monday morning, we set off for the rest of our vacation, the scenic route home. We headed north into Wyoming, going past Cheyenne, before heading east across the prairies for the Nebraska border.
As we crossed into Nebraska we began to see sunflower fields and interestingly unexpected sandstone hills and towers.
Not far from the border we came to the town of Scottsbluff and the Scotts Bluff National Monument, an important landmark on the Oregon Trail.
The park contains multiple bluffs which rise over 800 feet above the plaints, and is located along the south side of the North Platte River; the monument is composed of five rock formations named Crown Rock, Dome Rock, Eagle Rock, Saddle Rock, and Sentinel Rock.
To get to the top you drive the Summit Road. This 1.6 mile drive features scenic views and the only three vehicular tunnels in the state of Nebraska. Once at the top there are some short trails with overlooks of the surrounding town and countryside.
Back down on the prairie there is a wagon to show what life was like on the Oregon Trail, as well as Park personnel who explain what the trip would’ve been like.
About 20 miles east of Scottsbluff we came to Chimney Rock, a prominent geological rock formation rising nearly 300 feet above the surrounding valley.
Northeast of Chimney Rock was, for me, the highlight of the trip – Carhenge!
Carhenge is a replica of England’s Stonehenge located near the city of Alliance, Nebraska, in the middle of a prairie.
Instead of being built with large stones, Carhenge is formed from vintage American automobiles, all covered with gray spray paint. It was built in 1987.
Carhenge replicates Stonehenge’s current “tumble-down” state, rather than the original stone circle erected between 2500 BC and 2000 BC. In addition to the Stonehenge replica, the Carhenge site includes several other sculptures created from autos covered with various colors of spray paint.
Travelling northwest through the Oglalla National Grasslands we made our way to the Toadstone Geologic Park, a very nice example of ‘badlands’ in the far northwest corner of Nebraska near the borders of Wyoming and South Dakota.
The formations throughout this park are very interesting, a precursor of what was to come in South Dakota.
As we left the park and continued down the dirt road we were stunned by what we saw next, airplane fuselages on a train rolling along the prairies. Apparently Boeing has the 737 fuselages built in Wichita, Kansas, then ships them to Renton, Washington for completion.
After our long day we looked forward to our motel for the night. I had found a place in Custer, South Dakota called the Rocket, a 1950s retro-themed motel. Dinner was at the Sage Creek Grille, then we crashed for the night.