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Panhandle Road Trip

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 12:21 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - You can see a number of Nebraska highlights while traveling on the Western Trails Scenic and Historic Byway.

There are many scenic byways in the state. There is the Outlaw Trail Scenic Byway on Highway 12, or the Sandhills Journey National Scenic Byway on Highway 2. What is a scenic byway?

“A scenic byway is a road that has been designated as such because it contains significant scenic, historic, recreational, or archeological value,” Western Trails Scenic and Historic Byway representative Jonathan Shadegg said.

The Western Trails Byway certainly fits the bill when it comes to a memorable route.

“It starts in Ogallala and follows Highway 26 and 92 all the way over to the Wyoming-Nebraska state line over in Henry,” Shadegg said. “The whole theme of the Western Trail Scenic and Historic Byway is to follow the footsteps of the men and women who made their journey west all of those years ago.”

Traveling on this byway transports you right into the middle of pioneer history. You’ll get a chance to feel the past.

“The byway closely follows all of the historic trails like the Oregon Trail, the historic California Trail, the Mormon trail, and even when you get over to Bridgeport, it meets up with the Pony Express Route,” Shadegg said.

Some of the sights you’ll encounter along this byway include Nebraska’s largest body of water, Lake McConaughy. You’ll also travel by Ash Hollow State Historical Park, where pioneers stopped for shade and water on their way west. You can even stop off for coffee and refreshments at places like “The Most Unlikely Place” in Lewellen, or Mark Ferrari Specialty Coffees in Oshkosh. Of course, you’ll want to see Chimney Rock, and Scottsbluff National Monument along this route.

“There’s plenty to do along that 144 mile stretch of road,” Shadegg said.

Organizers recently re-established a Western Trails Scenic and Historic Byway committee, to help get more people traveling.

“The mission of the committee is to promote travel and tourism along this corridor,” Shadegg said. “I created a Facebook page to help expose and establish the Western Trails Byway presence again on social media. So, I encourage people to find the byway Facebook page, and we are also in the process of developing a Western Trails Scenic and Historic Byway website as well.”

It’s a unique byway, packed with miles of opportunities.

“There’s about 40 stops along the Western Trails Byway, and that’s pretty impressive for only being 144 miles long,” Shadegg said.

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