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The Top 9 Can’t-Miss Scenic Drives In Nebraska

Here's what you need to know...
  • Nebraska’ beautiful landscape features three major rivers as well as plains and forest areas
  • When driving through Nebraska on a scenic drive, be observant of wildlife, cyclists, and other potential hazards on the road
  • Because you could have a breakdown in a remote location in Nebraska, your vehicle should be stocked with an emergency kit and non-perishable food before you venture out on a scenic drive
Nebraska once used the tourism slogan, “Where the west begins.” This is a stunningly beautiful state that has many wide-open expanses of wilderness across plains as well as several major rivers, forested landscapes and a few hilly regions.

Because this state is relatively sparsely populated in comparison to many other states, you may find that it is the ideal location for taking a relaxing scenic drive on your own or in the company of good friends or loved family members.

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The Top 9 Scenic Drives in Nebraska

While you could simply set off down the open roads in Nebraska and let the roads take you where they may, another idea is to plan a strategic route through some of the most scenic landscapes in the state. These are a few top scenic drives in Nebraska that you do not want to miss.

#9 – Loup Rivers Scenic Byway

AdobeStock_6983197-1600x1600Length of Route: 150 miles
Highlight: Rolling farmlands, rivers, reservoirs

If you want to lose yourself in the natural beauty of Nebraska’s countryside for a few hours, driving on the Loup Rivers Scenic Byway is a wonderful option to consider.

This 150-mile route takes you through the heart of the state on Highways 91 and 11. While some will cruise through this scenic area without stopping, you could make plans to stop at popular attractions along the way, such as Chalk Mine or the Valley County Museum, to name a few.

#8 – Heritage Highway

 

Length of Route: 238 miles
Highlight: Rivers, plains, historical attractions

Heritage Highway is a 238-mile expanse on between Brownville and Edison that will delight you with its impressive beauty.

You will travel on an east-west path across the center of the state on Highway 136, and you can stop at numerous locations across the way to see the sights and learn more about the history of the area.

The Superior Estates Winery and the world’s largest porch swing in Hebron are popular points of interest.

In addition, you will see Harlan County Lake, and you can also stop at Rock Creek Station State Historic Park, Homestead National Monument, and other historical sites.

#7 – Lincoln Highway Scenic and Historic Byway

Length of Route: 400 miles
Highlight: Parks, lakes, farmland

You can cross Nebraska from east to west on Highway 30, which takes you directly over the Lincoln Highway Scenic and Historic Byway.

This is a 400-mile path that takes you through the DeSoto Wildlife Refuge, where you can stop to see an abundant range of wildlife or even take an airboat tour.

The Stuhr Museum is a popular living history museum located along this route as well. A few other points of interest include the Platte River and the Buffalo Bill Ranch Historic State Park.

#6 – Lewis and Clark Scenic Byway

AdobeStock_99205309-1600x1600Length of Route: 82 miles
Highlight: Ample wildlife and Native American attractions

The Lewis and Clark Scenic Byway is an 82-mile route that takes you north out of Omaha, and it follows the path of the Missouri River at times.

This is the same route that Lewis and Clark historically took, and it also is home to several Native American attractions from the Omaha and Winnebago tribes.

Because this route takes you through the Desoto National Wildlife Refuge and the Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge, it is a great option to consider when you hope to see wildlife on your drive.

#5 – Outlaw Trail Scenic Byway

AdobeStock_101665763-1600x1600Length of Route: 231 miles
Highlight: Wildlife refuge, bluffs, sandhills, waterfalls

When you travel along the 231-mile Outlaw Trail Scenic Byway in the northern region of Nebraska, you will travel from Sioux City to Valentine.

You can admire the beauty of the sandhills before making your way into the Niobrara National Scenic River area to walk through the forest and hike on trails to see beautiful waterfalls and river scenes.

Just a few of the other points of interest along this scenic drive include Kreycik Riverview Elk Ranch, the Ponca Earthlodge, and Ponca Tribal Museum.

#4 – Gold Rush Byway

Length of Route: 158 miles
Highlight: Sandhills, buttes, river valleys

The 158-mile Gold Rush Byway in the western region of the state is appropriately named because it takes you across a route heavily used in the gold rush days.

This area of the state has a more rugged, Old West look that you may appreciate, and it boasts buttes, pine trees, rivers, and more.

If you want to get out of the car and stretch your legs, stopping at the Chacon State Park, the Museum of the Fur Trade, Carhenge, and other attractions can add some thrills to your road trip adventure.

#3 – Western Trail Historic

Length of Route: 144-miles
Highlight: Massive rock formations, bluffs, a recreational lake area

The Western Trail Historic route is a 144-mile path from Ogallala to the Wyoming state border. This is the same path that travelers have been taking for centuries, and you can see the trails left by pioneer wagon wheels in several locations.

There are also Old West storefronts in several small towns as well as the Petrified Wood Gallery, which features many geologic features and historic artifacts.

You also may want to stop at Lake McConaughey, which is one of the most popular recreational lakes in the state.

#2 – Bridges to Buttes Byway

Length of Route: 197 miles
Highlight: Sandhills, forests, prairies

When you travel on the Bridges to Buttes Byway in northern Nebraska, you will travel along Highway 20 from Valentine until you reach the Wyoming state line.

This is a largely natural route that boasts scenic plains as well as a few forested areas and beautiful sandhills.

However, there are a few points of interest that are worth stopping the car for. These include the Chadron State Park, the Toadstool Geologic Park, the tourist town of Harrison, and several others.

#1 – Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway

Length of Route: 272 miles
Highlight: Rivers, sandhills, wetlands

The Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway takes across the heart of Nebraska on a diagonal path along Highway 2. This is the perfect scenic drive to take when you want to see a wide range of landscapes and learn more about the state at the same time.

From rivers and wetlands to sandhills, forests, and more, many landscapes are featured here. You may want to pull over and explore some of the more notable attractions on this path, including the Stuhr Museum living history area, Pawnee Earth Lodge, and Cedar Hills Vineyard.

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Preparing for Your Scenic Drive

When preparing to venture out on Nebraska’s roads for a relaxing scenic drive, the last thing you may think about is being in an accident or having a breakdown, but these things can and do happen to drivers all the time.

Before you start your road trip, stock your car with an emergency kit, blankets, water, non-perishable food, and other essentials.

You should also get a full vehicle inspection before traveling a long distance, and ensure that tires are properly inflated and in good condition.

– Comparison Shopping in Nebraska

AdobeStock_107417448-1600x1600Nebraska motorists should be properly insured per the state’s legal requirements at all times. A smart idea is to review your coverage now before your upcoming road trip and to make plans to review the policy again every six months.

Shopping around to get quotes for car insurance from three to four reputable auto insurance providers is also a great idea if you want to potentially save money on your coverage.

When shopping for Nebraska car insurance quotes, keep the state minimum coverage requirements in mind. These include:

  • $25,000 minimum for bodily injury coverage per person
  • $50,000 minimum for bodily injury coverage per accident
  • $25,000 minimum for property damage per accident

Be aware that the liability insurance requirements for this state pay other parties for damages you cause while driving.

If you want benefits to pay for the repair work on your own car, collision or comprehensive insurance should be added to your coverage as well.

– Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

If you drive without the minimum insurance required by law in Nebraska, you risk having to pay all of the related expenses out of your own funds.

More than that, because these are legal requirements imposed on all drivers in the state, you could be fined, have your license suspended, have your vehicle registration suspended, and more. Don’t miss out on our free quote tool below! Just enter your zip code and start comparing rates now!

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