Discover Rural America
There’s something to be said for small towns where people wave for no reason, and you can find a pitcher for less than a beer in other places. You won’t get lost in town because someone will always be willing to point you in the right direction. The only traffic jams are the four-legged kind, and you’ll always know that real people live here because it’s truly rural, not touristy real. You won’t mistake us for Jackson, Wyo., or Aspen, Colo., but you will travel back to a time when interstates didn’t exist and giant resorts hadn’t invaded the interior of the U.S., back when people stopped in small towns on the great American road trip.
This is Northwest Nebraska and there’s No Better Direction.
Attractions & Events
- Agate Fossil Beds & Cook Collection
- Bands on Bordeaux
- Belmont Tunnel
- Bethel Church
- Chadron Art Alley
- Chadron Downtown Historic District
- Chadron Festival of Quilts
- Chadron State College
- CSC Planetarium
- Crawford 4th of July
- Crawford Cattle Call
- Crawford Mud Racing
- Crawford Rock Swap
- Crawford Senior Pro Rodeo
- Dawes County Fair
- Fur Trade Days
- Golf Courses
- Harvest Fest
- High Plains Herbarium
- High Plains Homestead
- Holiday Festivities
- Hudson-Meng Bison Bonebed
- Legend Buttes Rumble
- Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center
- Montrose Church
- Native American Film Festival
- Peabody Hale Fiddle Contest
- Pine Ridge Trails Race Series
- Post Playhouse
- Ride the Ridge
- Sioux County Fair
- Swimming Pools
- Wacipis (Pow-wows)
- Whitney Lake Ice Fishing Tournament
Nineteen million years ago, strange creatures roamed the savanna that is now western Nebraska. The ancient mammals included tiny, two-horned rhinoceros, the Moropus—a horse/giraffe/tapir/rhinoceros/bear-like creature, and the ferocious 7-foot-tall large tusked pig. Though well known for decades by the Lakota, the first fossils were discovered by Captain James H. Cook in 1878. Cook and his son, Harold, developed a headquarters at Agate Springs Ranch for fellow paleontologists. Skulls and complete skeletons were found in the early 1900s, many of which were housed at the Carnegie Museum and the American Museum of Natural History.
Over the years, Cook and his family fostered friendships with Chief Red Cloud and other members of the Oglala Lakota Sioux. During their visits, the parties would exchange gifts, which Cook concluded should remain with the ranch. The National Park Service Visitor Center houses two rooms of collectables, such as buckskin suits, gloves, one of Red Cloud’s shirts, pipebags and whetstones. Historic photographs accompany several of the artifacts.
Phone: 308-668-2211; Hours: The visitor center and museum is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the off-season and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer season.
Sponsored by the Chadron Chamber of Commerce and various business partners, Bands on Bordeaux is a free summer concert series that takes place in the 100 block of Bordeaux Street in Chadron in July and August. The series is designed to be family friendly, with kids’ games, vendors, food and the opportunity to dance and listen to live music while catching up with old friends or making new ones.
The current year’s complete schedule can be found here as it becomes available.
Located halfway between Crawford and Marsland, NE, the Belmont Tunnel is a 698-foot long railway tunnel whose last train passed through it on May 3, 1982. The tunnel was built in 1888-89 by Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. When construction began in 1888, the contractor, Kilpatrick Bros. & Collins, promised workers $1.50 to $1.74 per day to work. When the workers arrived, they found they would be earning only $0.15 an hour and many returned home while only 1,200 men stayed in Belmont to construct the tunnel.
Workers dug the tunnel from both ends and most days they made about 3-feet of progress, but some days, workers dug up to 6-feet through thin strata of rock between compacted sand, which made light blasting necessary for the construction. The debris from the tunnel was taken away in livestock-drawn carts. Timbers that were cut near the railway tunnel were used to support the tunnel. The tunnel wasn’t quite finished when the railroad trackage coming from Alliance to Crawford arrived August 17, 1889. Belmont, which is now a ghost town, served as a temporary railway terminus while workers finished constructing the tunnel on August 25, 1889.
A freight train destroyed a large portion of the tunnel in November of 1917, which sparked a renovation for the tunnel in 1919-20. The timbers and concrete footings were removed and dumped into ravines. The tunnel was then re-bored and an oil derrick poured concrete through holes dug in the roof of the tunnel to reinforce it.
When the overnight train heading from Lincoln to northwest Nebraska was discontinued on August 24, 1969, passenger service on the track stopped, but freight trains still used the railway. In 1980, plans were created to remove the tunnel and construct a larger, double-track line, but it was built west of the old rail line, leaving the tunnel standing. The tunnel is now used by the railway as a service road.
Built in 1893, Bethel Church was the product of early pioneer spirit. It began as a Methodist Church and was later operated by both the American Sunday School Union and the American Missionary Society before services ceased in the early 2000s. A complete renovation by the rural community that surrounds it has restored the church for use today as a community center.
Chadron’s Art Alley was created in 2019 as part of the Paint the Town Project to showcase #Chadronmade art. The alley is located on the west side of Main Street and now has several public art murals for residents and visitors to enjoy and use as the unique backdrops for all those selfies! The project has several more murals planned so come back often to see what they’ve added. And if you happen to be in Northwest Nebraska on a weekend they are painting, come join in. This is truly a public art effort, and the steering committee welcomes members of the public to help paint the murals, regardless of age or skill level. It’s a great way to create a unique Northwest Nebraska experience!
CHADRON DOWNTOWN HISTORIC DISTRICT
Chadron, known as the Magic City, blossomed in pioneer days after the railroad arrived. Homesteaders who originally settled about five miles farther west picked up and moved all their homes, businesses and possessions in one day in 1885 after the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad announced its intentions to build its depot and town to the east.
In 2007, the city’s downtown district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A self-guided walking tour takes visitors to the downtown to more than 40 sites that display the architectural features that earned the district its spot on the National Register.
A brochure to guide you on your tour, which details the elements found at each of the building sites, can be picked up at the Chadron Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau.
The Chadron Festival of Quilts takes place each April at the Chadron Assumption Arena, and the talent and creativity displayed by the quilters is second to none. The largest quilt show in Northwest Nebraska, the event brings together vendors, demonstrations and three days of quilting bliss, all revolving around a specific theme each year. Be sure to check out the stunning of examples of textile art!
The current year’s complete schedule of events can be found here as it becomes available.
For more than a century, Chadron State College has helped exceptional students build their futures and soar in their careers.
Chadron State College, which was founded in 1911, is the only four-year, regionally-accredited college in the western half of Nebraska. As a public institution with its roots in teacher education, Chadron State takes pride in its accessibility and affordability. More than 3,000 undergraduate, graduate and online students currently attend Chadron State and its curriculum has grown to offer programs and courses in 65 majors and endorsements and eight master’s degree programs.
Chadron State is located in the scenic Pine Ridge of northwest Nebraska, where outdoor recreational activities abound. Dawes County has been selected as one of the nation’s top 100 counties in which to live and the campus is located just one hour’s drive south of one of America’s most famous landmarks, Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Chadron (pronounced SHAD-ren) is a community of about 6,000 people located on two major highways. With impetus from the college, the town offers many cultural opportunities and its charm makes it a desirable place to attend college and live.
The Eagles belong to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and NCAA Division II. Intercollegiate competition is available in football, basketball, wrestling, track and field and cross country for men and volleyball, basketball, track and field, cross country, golf and softball for women. For season releases, schedules and tickets click here.
The Planetarium at Chadron State College frequently features special Eclipse and Comet Shows. These special events are free to the public.
Public programs are generally offered during the CSC Academic year. Tickets must be purchased from the CSC Conferencing Office in advance of the show unless otherwise stated. All planetarium shows are presented by CSC students and/or faculty.
Hours: open by appointment Aug. 1 – Dec. 1 and February – May, and can service groups of 5-35 people. They can provide multiple shows for your audience if it is a larger group.
For more information, or to schedule your group, e-mail Jennifer Balmat or call (308) 432-6483.
CRAWFORD 4TH OF JULY
The small town of Crawford celebrates Independence Day in a big way each year. The community goes all out, hosting two PRCA rodeos, a parade and a slew of other events, ranging from a 5K to activities for all ages at the city park. The Western Wildlife Art Show is held in conjunction with the events at nearby Fort Robinson, showcasing art that captures rural life at its best. The final PRCA rodeo concludes with a fireworks show, and residents from across the region make sure to attend.
The bulk of the activities take place on July 4, but the days surrounding Independence Day typically have fun events to attend as well. You can find the current year’s schedule here as it becomes available.
Agriculture is a mainstay in the economy of Northwest Nebraska. The Crawford Cattle Call in downtown Crawford each November provides local ranchers the opportunity to display their high quality stock and gives visitors a chance to learn more about this essential economic component. Pens of cattle and other livestock are on display up and down the street, but the Crawford Cattle Call offers even more: an annual photo contest, a hay bale decorating competition, goat roping, and food and craft vendors. Organizers work to add at least one new feature to the Cattle Call each year, so the experience is fresh and exciting even for regular attendees.
The Crawford Mud Racing Association knows how to have a good time in the dirt! Each summer, it hosts a series of mud racing events at the Crawford City Park above the rodeo grounds, typically in June, July and September. Drivers of vehicles in four classes (rancher, super stock, modified and powder puff), as well as UTV and Kids Power Wheels take on the muddy obstacle course. Kids’ games and concessions also on site.
The Northwest Nebraska Rock Club has hosted the Crawford Rock Swap for more than 30 years at the Crawford City Park over Labor Day weekend.
Rockhounds of all ages enjoy trading their finds with the many vendors who participate in the swap, and daily field trips allow new and experienced rockhounds to add to their collections. The event also includes an auction and the annual Fairburn Agate Collectors Gathering.
The current year’s complete schedule of events can be found here as it becomes available.
CRAWFORD SENIOR PRO RODEO
For two days every August, “old-timers” prove they still have what it takes during the Senior Pro Rodeo in Crawford. The National Senior Pro Rodeo Association hosts roughly 60 rodeos annually across the country featuring cowboys age 40 and older.
The men and women, many of whom have been competing in rodeo arenas since their childhood days, show off their skills in bareback riding, barrel racing, bull riding, tie-down roping, ribbon roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, team roping and breakaway roping. The rodeo events are inspired by the working practices of cowboys on the open range, often still put to use in some form on today’s cattle ranches.
Sponsored by the Dawes County Agricultural Society, the Dawes County Fair has been the place for friends and family to have fun for over 130 years. Each summer, the fair offers free events for visitors, including 4-H exhibits and judging, special events and activities for children, great food, and display of local arts and crafts.
Fur Trade Days in Chadron has been the region’s historic celebration of buckskinners, traders and Native Americans for more than 40 years. Named the state’s 2014 Nebraska Outstanding Event for communities with populations less than 10,000, Fur Trade Days honors the area’s pioneer history with a Buckskinner’s Camp east of town and Cemetery Tours at Greenwood Cemetery with a cast of characters in period dress. The Museum of the Fur Trade’s exhibits and special speakers and presentations during Fur Trade Days also recall the contributions of those early settlers.
But you’ll also want to take part in the World Championship Buffalo Chip Throw (those who toss the dung farthest win a trophy!) and the Colter Run, which offers several lengths for athletes of various skill levels. Take a seat along Main Street to view the parade, browse the Traders Market and enjoy the entertainment on the Dawes County Courthouse lawn or head across the street for homemade ice cream. Bop over to the Chadron Public Library for additional activities and entertainment. Zip down the block with the kids to take in the carnival rides, and once the young ones are in bed dance to live music at a street dance in Downtown Chadron.
You can find the current year’s schedule here as it becomes available.
LEGEND BUTTES GOLF COURSE
This nine-hole course is located at the base of the picturesque Legend Buttes west of Crawford, providing beautiful scenery to enjoy while you traverse its 3,178 yards of golf. The course is rated at 125 and has a par of 36. Legend Buttes Golf Course is open April 1 through Oct. 1. Reservations not required, but are appreciated.
Phone: (308) 665-2431; Address: 3440 Highway 20
RIDGEVIEW COUNTRY CLUB
This nine-hole golf course south of Chadron is home to the annual Don Beebe Golf Classic Tournament every Memorial Day weekend. Driving range, cart and club rentals are available. Typically open from May to October, depending on weather.
Phone: (308) 432-4468; Address: 16611 US Highway 385
The annual Harvest Fest, which takes place each fall at the Downtown Plaza at the corner of Second and Main Streets in Chadron, offers up a load of vendors with everything from homemade goodies and garden produce to trinkets and furniture. On-site cooking and knitting demonstrations have also been featured in recent years, and farm fresh honey, beef and eggs are often available. A pumpkin painting contest and face painting will keep the kids entertained when they aren’t dancing away to the live music.
Located at Chadron State College, the High Plains Herbarium contains the largest collections of ethnobotanical medicinal plants and historic pharmaceuticals in the entire state. Visitors can learn about the plants Native Americans and early settlers used as the main sources for alleviating pain and treating or curing other ailments. Former curator and CSC professor Ronald Weedon expanded the collection during his tenure from 2,400 species to more than 42,000.
Hours: 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday year-round with the exception of school holidays. Availability of personnel during the summer may be limited due to field work. The herbarium entrance is room 131 of the Math and Science Building. Group tours are available and should be arranged in advance.
The High Plains Homestead is a living tribute to the Old West—rugged log buildings including a saloon and mercantile, old-fashioned candy, Native American pottery, a 1900s school house, wagons, windmills, and roaming buffalo. Guests can enjoy the quiet, open prairie with views of the Badlands and the ponderosas of Pine Ridge nearby. While the Homestead closely resembles a Cowtown of bygone eras, it’s not without many modern amenities. The Bunkhouses have private baths, refrigerators, and air conditioning, and there is a pool available for guests to enjoy. To offer total peace, quiet, and relaxation, though, phones and TVs are absent from the rooms; however, the Homestead provides free wireless internet access. Great for family vacations or group hunting trips, the Bunkhouses can accommodate gatherings of up to 20 people.
The Sandcreek Cookhouse serves up steaks and large portion meals, all homemade, every Wednesday through Sunday during the summer (winter hours are weather-dependent).
Arrangements can be made at the Badlands Mercantile to journey to the Hudson-Meng Bison Bonebed or the Toadstool Geologic Park for fossil and rock-hunting excursions. Guests can also enjoy hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting, and great photo and star-gazing opportunities.
Christmas in Chadron
- Parade of Lights – The annual Parade of Lights kicks off the Christmas season in Chadron the first Thursday in December. Grab a cup of hot chocolate on Main Street and watch the lighted floats pass by!
- Chadron Community Christmas Tree – The Community Christmas Tree is located in the Downtown Plaza at the corner of Second and Main streets. A public lighting ceremony takes place ahead of the Parade of Lights on the first Thursday in December.
- Chadron State College hosts its annual Holiday Concert at Memorial Hall the first Thursday in December. Enjoy professionally-delivered Christmas music to get you in the spirit of the season!
- Parade of Trees – The annual Parade of Trees takes place at the Dawes County Courthouse on Main Street in Chadron. Businesses and organizations decorate trees of all sizes in different themes. The Parade of Trees is typically installed just ahead of Thanksgiving and remains on display through Christmas during normal courthouse hours. Visitors can also view the trees after-hours during Christmas in Chadron events on the first Thursday of December.
Christmas in Crawford
Christmas in Crawford takes place at the Crawford Fire Hall, giving kids the chance to meet Santa and take miniature train rides. The date varies, but the event usually takes place in mid-December.
Fort Robinson Historical Christmas Dinner
Each year in December, Fort Robinson State Park hosts a Historical Christmas Dinner, recreating the Christmas menus from years when the park still served as a military post. Some attendees even dress in period costumes as well. Tickets go on sale at 8 a.m. the first Monday of November and are typically sold out within the hour. The buildings at Fort Robinson State Park are also quite a sight during the holiday season thanks to the community Light Up the Fort effort. It’s definitely worth taking a drive through the park if you enjoy Christmas lights!
Pine Bough Bazaar
The Pine Bough Bazaar is a one-stop holiday shopping extravaganza with a large variety of vendors offering everything from baked goods to crafts on the second Friday and Saturday of November at the Chadron Assumption Arena.
Shop Hometown Harrison
Another great one-stop holiday shopping spot is Shop Hometown Harrison, held at the VFW Hall in Harrison the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving. Avoid the Black Friday rush, support local vendors and get all of your holiday shopping out of the way early!
In 1954, while attempting to dig a stockpond, Nebraska ranchers Bill Hudson and Albert Meng
uncovered a large pile of bones. During the 1970s, Dr. Larry Agenbroad of Chadron State College began excavating the site which is believed to be the bonebed of nearly 600 Bison antiquus, an extinct relative of today’s modern bison which perished more than 10,000 years ago. Considered to be one of the most important archaeological discoveries in North America, the Hudson-Meng site has been enrolled on the National Register of Historic Places. Scientists and student excavators have been working with the Forest Service for decades to try to understand the exact nature of this mass kill site and the role that ancient Paleo-Indian people may have played. In 1997, a climate-controlled enclosure was completed to cover the central portion of the bonebed.
Visitors can learn more about this mysterious site and the archaeological techniques used to interpret by visiting the Hudson-Meng Education & Research Center.
Phone: 308-432-0300; Hours: Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Memorial Day through Oct. 1 Admission: $5 for adults, $4.50 for seniors, $3 for kids ages 5 to 12, and kids 4 and under are free.
The Bison Bone Bed Mystery
Legend Buttes Rumble
Hot rods, classics and custom cars fill the Crawford City Park each September for the Legend Buttes Rumble. Even vintage campers and antique tractors are welcome, and the weekend traditionally also includes a crafters market and swap meet, a burnout contest, live music, activities, food and more! Spend a relaxing day in the shadow of the buttes, enjoying great food, music, games and beautiful vintage automobiles on display!
Mention the word library, and most folks think of nothing more than shelves of books. But as the world has changed, so too have our local libraries as they have become centers for makerspaces, educational classes, access to computer programs and the internet. If you’re visiting Northwest Nebraska and need internet or computer access or want to research the region, our local libraries are a great place to start.
The Chadron Public Library hosts yoga classes, virtual reality events, craft sessions and more. Its signature event, however, is the Trading Stories Native American Film Festival each October. For three days, the library screens documentaries and films, hosts speakers and offers traditional Native American food to pay tribute to the often-forgotten stories of the people who called this region home before European settlement.
With nearly 79,000 items in its collection, the Chadron Public Library is sure to hold something of interest for anyone. Online catalogs through Libby and Overdrive also available. Staff also host frequent events, including preschool story time each Thursday at 10:30 a.m., a Game/STEM Club on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 6:30 p.m., and Lego Club on the first and third Mondays of each month, also at 6:30 p.m. The Friends of the Library also opens the annex next door to the library during the second weekend of each month with great bargains on books of every genre.
The Chadron Public Library is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Library cards are available to residents of Dawes, Sioux and Sheridan counties, as well as residents of Hemingford. For more information, contact the library at 308-432-0531, stop by at 507 Bordeaux Street or visit chadronpubliclibrary.com.
CRAWFORD PUBLIC LIBRARY
Research history of the area or use the library’s printing, copying, fax and WIFI services. The Crawford Library was originally constructed as the Christian Science Reading Room before being donated to the city by the prominent Hall family. There are separate adult and children’s areas, five networked public access computers and a collection that includes a wide variety of non-fiction works, periodicals and newspapers, a separate children’s collection and young people’s section, a large collection of general and mystery fiction, a large circulating paperback collection, and many videotapes, DVD’s and books-on-tape. Regular story hour activities are provided weekly during the school year.
Phone: 308-665-1780; Hours: Open Tuesdays and Thursdays 1-6 pm; Fridays 10 am – 3 pm; Address: 601 2nd St., Crawford
Located at Chadron State College, the King Library is primarily for use by students, staff and faculty at the college. The library does, however, offer three public use computers near the reference desk for research and educational purposes (no gaming, videos, etc.). Sign-in at the reference desk prior to using the public access computers. Hours may vary by semester. Click here for updated information.
SIOUX COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
Children and adult collections, as well as access to online catalogs through Libby and Overdrive. Summer reading programs, seasonal activities and three public access computers.
Phone: 308-668-9431; Hours: Open Mondays 9 am – Noon & 1-5 pm; Tuesdays and Wednesdays 1-5 pm; Thursdays 3:30-6:30 pm; Fridays 9 am-1 pm; Saturdays 9 am – Noon; Address: 182 3rd St., Harrison
Located on the campus of Chadron State College, the Mari Sandoz Heritage Center is dedicated to the life and literature of one of Nebraska’s most important female authors and historians. Considered an authority on Native American culture, Mari Sandoz published numerous essays in defense of the persecuted groups of Cheyenne and Oglala Sioux, proclaiming their high-qualities and championing for just laws and government aid for them. Inspired by the wild frontier where she was born and raised, her short-stories also reflect an interest in homesteading, the harsh landscape, conflict and the importance of women in the West. Exhibits at the High Plains Heritage Center include writings and memorabilia from Mari’s lifetime, paleontology and fossil displays, botanical and wildflower collections and more.
In addition to the permanent exhibit chronicling Mari Sandoz’s life, the Heritage Center features rotating temporary art installations year-round.
Also located in the High Plains Heritage Center is the C.F. Coffee Gallery. The lower level of the center is dedicated to interpretive exhibits that explore the development of the cattle industry on the High Plains. Exhibits detail the movement of cattle from Texas to the High Plains, the open range era, and the transition to the ranching system we know today.
The lower level additionally features a collection of photos from local pioneer photographers Ray and Faye Graves. The couple owned an early photography studio in Chadron and documented life in Chadron and the surrounding areas, including the Pine Ridge Reservation. It is believed that one of the last known photos of Red Cloud was taken by the Graves
Photography Studio. A large collection of the glass plates used by the couple were unearthed in the 1970s during the demolition of a downtown building and are now housed at the Heritage Center. A small fraction of those have been printed and hung on the lower level.
Hours: Vary based on season. Click here for current info; Archives and Collections resources are available to the public by appointment during regular hours.
The Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, or Montrose Church, is the only thing that remains of the pioneer town Montrose in northern Sioux County. Montrose was established in 1887 by immigrants from Austria, Germany and Luxembourg and named for its high elevation (mont) and native rose bushes. The church, which now sits in the middle of the Oglala National Grasslands, was constructed the same year. It still holds services once a year and is located near the Warbonnet and Yellow Hair Monuments, the site of a battle between soldiers of the 5th Cavalry, including Buffalo Bill Cody, and Cheyenne Indians.
Each October, the Chadron Public Library and the Library Foundation sponsor the Trading Stories Native American Film Festival.
For three days, the library screens documentaries and films, hosts speakers and offers traditional Native American food to pay tribute to the often-forgotten stories of the people who called this region home before European settlement. Films such as “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” and “Tiger Eyes” and the discussions that accompany them provide opportunities to connect across cultures and serves as a reminder that we all share the same human experiences. Other films have depicted the contributions of mothers and daughters during the American Indian Movement of the 1970s and the important influence Native American musicians have had on the music to which we listen. There also are typically some activities and movies for children, so the entire family can attend and enjoy the event.
The Chadron Public Library also features an extensive Indigenous Peoples of North America collection. Designated by a red sticker or the IPNA code, the materials include Native American music, films and books.
The current year’s complete schedule of events can be found here as it becomes available.
Phone: 308-432-0531; Address: 507 Bordeaux St., Chadron
If you think today’s music leaves a bit to be desired, step back in time and enjoy old-fashioned fiddle music at the Peabody Hale Fiddle Contest each July in Crawford. The event, which provides great family entertainment, is a vocal and fiddle competition for all ages. Vocal contest categories include adults and juniors, while the fiddle competition is broken into pee wees, juniors, adults and seniors. There’s also a division for all other non-electric musical instruments, for those who aren’t accomplished on the fiddle. A quilt show and horseshoe tournament round out the old-fashioned activities, and vendors and crafters offer up unique wares.
The Pine Ridge Trails Race Series sponsored by the Chadron Community Recreation will challenge your image of Nebraska as nothing but flat terrain. CCR hosts three events annually: Run for the Hills, the Panhandle Pedal Grinder and the Twisted Crawdad Trail Races.
Run for the Hills began in 2017 as a five-mile race in Strong Canyon in the Nebraska National Forest but was later moved to Chadron State Park in conjunction with the park’s anniversary celebration and features multiple races, including a fun run/wlk, 5K and 10K runs.
The Panhandle Pedal Grinder takes bike enthusiasts through the Pine Ridge on 40 and 100-mile gravel road courses.
The Twisted Crawdad Trail Races include both mountain bike races and trail runs in The Cliffs Recreational area of the Nebraska National Forest. The races offer long and short distances through the rugged Pine Ridge.
The Post Playhouse, located at historic Fort Robinson, showcases local and national talent on the stage at one of the top venues for live theatre in the West. Each summer, the Playhouse presents a repertory schedule of concerts, musicals and plays featuring talented and creative professional performers. The Wizard of Oz, South Pacific, Always….Patsy Cline, and Oklahoma! are just a few of the famous shows that have performed at the Post Playhouse in the last decade.
There’s no better way to enjoy the iconic scenery of Northwest Nebraska’s Pine Ridge than on horseback. For more than two decades, the annual Ride the Ridge event each June provides visitors a chance to do exactly that. The trail ride, which takes place at Fort Robinson State Park, takes horse enthusiasts into the outlying areas of the state park, where fantastic views await. Camaraderie with fellow horsemen and women abounds, and riders can take some truly spectacular photos or simply immerse themselves in the moment and commit the views to memory.
Riders can choose between two trail rides – morning or afternoon – or take both; they’re each five to six miles long. The event also offers the chance to take part in a Trail Challenge and Competition for $5 in the afternoon if riders opt to skip the second trail ride. The event is rain or shine, and riders must have their own horse. Except for the entrance fee for the Trail Challenge, Ride the Ridge is free, though riders must purchase a state park permit.
Sponsored by the Sioux County Agricultural Society, the Sioux County Fair has been the place for friends and family to have fun for over 125 years. Each summer, the fair offers 4-H exhibits and livestock shows, an art show and a 5K race. Entertainment includes rodeos, a demolition derby and the ever-popular hog wrestling for brave souls willing to jump in a mud pit and attempt the feat. There are also plenty of opportunities to eat at a free barbecue and pancake feed, and you can satisfy your sweet tooth at the pie and ice cream social. You can find the current year’s schedule here as it becomes available.
This indoor facility is open year-round and includes all sorts of features to keep swimmers of all ages entertained, including a 15-foot slide, a children’s slide, dump buckets and splash pad. The pool has a zero-depth entry, six lap lanes and a one-meter diving board. The facility also includes a therapy pool with warmer water temperatures and a walking track space around the pool deck. Classes at the Aquatic and Wellness Center include water aerobics, swimming lessons for all ages, and physical therapy. A multipurpose room is also available for rent for parties.
Passes are sold for families, couples and individual adults and youths at daily, monthly, quarterly and annual rates. Lap swim and water aerobics passes and walking passes are also available.
Summer Hours (Memorial Day to Labor Day)
Open Swim – Mondays Noon – 6 pm; Tuesday through Friday Noon – 7 pm; Saturdays Noon – 8 pm; Sundays Noon – 5 pm
Lap Swim – Monday through Friday 6-9 am; Monday through Saturday 11 am – Noon
Walking Track – Monday 6 am – 6 pm; Tuesday through Friday 6 am – 7 pm; Saturday 11 am – 8 pm; Sunday Noon – 5 pm
Water Aerobics – Monday through Friday 7-8 am and 8-9 am; Tuesdays & Thursdays 5:30-6:30 pm
For off-season and holiday hours click here.
Chadron State Park’s swimming pool offers visitors a beautiful view overlooking the pines. The pool is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, with reduced hours beginning in mid-August. Lifeguards are on duty.
This outdoor swimming pool on the west edge of Crawford provides a view of the buttes while you’re relaxing deck-side. Open only during the summer months, the pool is located at 1005 First St. in Crawford and offers lap swimming/aerobics and open swim. Passes are available for the season and are also sold at a daily rate.
Lap Swim/Aerobics – Monday through Friday 11 am – Noon and 5-6 pm
Open Swim – 7 days a week 1-5 pm and 6-8 pm
The indoor, Olympic-size Lindeken Pool, complete with outdoor wading pool and sun deck, is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
HARRISON SWIMMING POOL
This outdoor pool is open only during the summer months and is conveniently located near at the city park, which provides tennis and basketball courts and picnic areas to make the day complete.
Mari Sandoz Wacipi
Every November, the Chadron State College Native American Club and the college’s Diversity Committee host the Mari Sandoz Wacipi, complete with multiple drum groups, inter-tribal dancing, various dance competitions and storytellers. Wacipis are a traditional part of Native American culture, which played an important role in Northwest Nebraska’s development. The annual Wacipi at CSC pays tribute to the heritage of the region’s original population.
An Inter-tribal gathering with dance exhibition and contests, the White River Wacipi showcases traditional Native American culture through the pow-wow experience featuring drum music, dance and song. The White River Wacipi Committee aims to educate the public about Native American dancing, storytelling and other activities annually during the last weekend in June. The event takes place at the Arbor in the City of Crawford’s park complex; camping is available and encouraged.
Each year’s event includes traditional Native American dancing, exhibits, demonstrations, arts, crafts, games, storytellers, vendors and more. The Wacipi is open to the public at no cost.
The current year’s complete schedule of events can be found here as it becomes available.
Whitney Lake at Whitney, Nebraska, is owned by the Whitney Irrigation District but is accessible to the public through a boat ramp and dock situated on ground leased by the Nebraska Game and Parks. Every January the Whitney Dock Club hosts its annual Whitney Lake Ice Fishing Tournament. It’s a great way to enjoy winter in Northwest Nebraska if you love competitive fishing and includes a lucrative raffle with about $20,000 in prizes. Only 1,000 tickets are available to the general public each year, which give the ticketholder entry into the tournament and raffle, as well as a chili supper at the conclusion of the event. The tournament features three categories: walleye, crappie and other and each contestant is allowed one entry in each category. Entries are judged by length. Proceeds of the tournament benefit continued improvements at Whitney Lake.