TORRINGTON – While time-crunched travelers may prefer take Interstate 80 across the state of Nebraska, a leisurely trip through the Sandhills on Highway 2, also known as the Nebraska Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway, is just the ticket for those who enjoy a more picturesque route.
Only an hour-and-a-half’s drive away, Goshen County residents can head to Alliance, Neb. by way of U.S. 26 east and U.S. 385 north to begin the winding, peaceful journey.
“This 272-mile stretch of Nebraska Highway 2 through the impressive Sandhills from Grand Island to the railroad community of Alliance has been named one of the (10) most scenic routes in the nation,” according to the state’s tourism website, Visit Nebraska (visitnebraska.com).
Rolling hills, large expanses of pasture, marshes, ranches, windmills, cattle and quaint cowboy towns welcome roadtrippers with an appreciation for the simple things in life.
“Since 1984, the Sandhills area has been a designated National Natural Landmark – it’s one of those places that everyone should see at least once,” according to travel and destination website, Only In Your State (www.onlyinyourstate.com). “The Nebraska Sandhills are one of the largest plant-anchored sand dune regions in the world, and the largest sand dune formation in the Western Hemisphere. The dunes sit atop the Ogallala Aquifer, resulting in thousands of little lakes and ponds in lower-lying areas. This unique combination of environmental factors makes the Sandhills region the largest, most intricate wetland ecosystem in the United States, according to (U.S.) Fish and Wildlife Service.”
Only In Your State adds as much as 85 percent of the Sandhills region is intact natural habitat, with more than 535,500 head of cattle living among the dunes, which tower up to 400 feet tall and stretch 20 miles long.
Visitors should be aware, however, much of the land is privately owned and permission is often necessary to access the Sandhills from anywhere other than the road.
Visit Nebraska recommends visiting the following points of interest along the way: Carhenge and Dobby’s Frontier Town in Alliance; Nebraska National Forest near Halsey and Chadron; Cedar Hills Vineyard & Gardens in Ravenna; Custer County Museum and Historical Society, Broken Bow; and Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, Grand Island.
In addition, dozens of hotels, cafés, grocery stores and gas stations, as well as three hospitals and various medical clinics, are stationed along the route.
For more information, including specific amenities and schedules, visit www.sandhillsjourney.com.