- 141 miles (226 km)
- 3 1/2 to 4 hours
Welcome to the Heartland of Nebraska! The Loup Rivers ScenicByway gains its name from the meandering North Loup, Middle Loupand South Loup Rivers through central Nebraska. From the pristine,rolling farmland, red barns and silos to the silent solitude of theSandhills, this byway is truly a treat for the eyes, mind and soul.Small towns, scenic beauty, local events and artisans, militaryhistory and friendly people provide unexpected treasures in a trulystress-free environment.
For those wanting to sample first-hand the small townhospitality, this is the byway for you. Start up a conversationwith the old-timer sitting near the window of the corner cafe,anyone on the street or behind a counter. Chances are they willtell you things you won't find in any guidebook. Relax in the townpark, visit the varied artisans and craftspeople that populate thearea or locate that perfect antique in this region.
In late July, Burwell hosts Nebraska's Big Rodeo, an event youdon't want to miss. Three reservoirs stretch from one end of theNorth Loup Valley to the other in the heart of Nebraska. ShermanReservoir near Loup City, Davis Creek near North Loup and theCalamus near Burwell all offer anglers, hikers, campers, wildlifewatchers and other outdoor enthusiasts plenty of recreation. Inaddtion to these attractions, located at the east end of the LoupRivers Scenic Byway, Dannebrog boasts of a 3 mile hike/bike hardsurface trail with an additional 3/4 mile wood chip nature trail.This trail meanders around the outskirts of the village. At thewestern edge of the Loup Rivers Scenic Byway, the Nebraska NationalForest, the largest hand-planted forest in the country, sitsquietly in the midst of grass-covered sand dunes. So instead ofzipping past the Heartland of Nebraska on I-80, turn off, take yourtime and let central Nebraska and the Loup Rivers Scenic Byway puta smile on your face.
Points of Interest
Points of Interest Along The Way
2nd Wind Ranch (NE)
mong the rolling hills and peaceful Nebraskacountryside, 2nd Wind Ranch hosts over 30 standing windmills--thelargest collection in the world. Situated on a 40-acre pasture,these windmills range in size from 6 ft. in diameter to 20 ft., andfrom the latest models to those over a hundred years old. Windmillswere an important aspect of settlers who migrated to the area. Theyprovided much needed water and made it possible that the area couldthrive. Today, the 2nd Wind Ranch is an area dedicated to thosewindmills. The 2nd Wind Ranch is also home to the Comstock WindmillFestival, which is a summer music festival.
Between Ord and Comstock, NE
Broken Bow (NE)
Broken Bow, located in Custer County, got its name after agentleman found an old Pawnee arrow which was broken into fivepieces by a creek. He had already submitted two names for possibletown names, but once he suggested Broken Bow, the name wasaccepted. This small town has many parks, with the most notablebeing Melham Park, which hosts a miniature ghost town. This is thearea for you if you like small town fairs and events. There arealso many recreational opportunities such as fishing, camping, andhunting on the nearby creeks and rivers. Historically, this area isunique because it is known as the sod house frontier. With no treesor stone, early settlers in the area made their houses of sod.Custer County, named after George Armstrong Custer, is the best ofboth worlds, with the western border entering the Sandhills and theeastern border lying in prime crop growing land.
Broken Bow, NE
Calmus Reservoir State Recreation Area (NE)
Calamus Reservoir State Recreation Area is the place to go forboating and other water recreation sports. With 5,123 acres ofreservoir, there is something for everyone. Boat ramps located atconvenient locations, both primitive and modern camp sites,electrical hookups, and hot shows all make this an enjoyable placeto visit and recreate.The reservoir is known for its good fishing,with largemouth bass, channel catfish, walleye, perch, bluegill,northern pike, and wipers all can be found in the reservoir. Boatramps and camping areas are available.
Columbia Hall (NE)
Columbia Hall was built in 1908 by the Danish Brotherhood Society. It stands in the downtown area and the second floor of this two-story brick building has an open room, which boasts a stage.
Crane Meadows Nature Center, located on the south side of Interstate 80 at Exit 305 (Alda), is one of the best places in the world to experience spring bird migration. The Nebraska Bird Observatory leads eagle-watches in January, waterfowl tours in February and crane-watching in March and April, which is when the Platte River fills with the largest congregation of sandhill cranes in the world. The prairie wildlife spectacle continues through May with prairie chicken, burrowing owl and prairie dog viewing. Bat and butterfly programs are held in the summer, and the Celebrate Nebraska festival occurs here in October. The Center's facilities include 7 miles of trails through the 240-acre prairie, a treetop observation tower and two pedestrian bridges spanning the middle channel of the Platte River.
Between Wood River and Grand Island, NE
'Danish Capital of Nebraska' Historical Marker (NE)
The text of this monument reads:
“In the spring of 1871 several members of the Danish Landand Homestead Company from Wisconsin claimed land along Oak Creek.The migrants, led by Lars Hannibal, were drawn by fertile soil andthe idea that Danes from across the U.S. and the Old Country couldform a colony in Howard County. Hannibal called the settlement“Dannebrog,” the name of the red and white nationalflag of Denmark. Construction of a water-powered grist mill on OakCreek sparked the village’s early growth, and Dannebrogunsuccessfully sought the county seat in 1874. The town almostdisappeared in the early 1880s, when businesses relocated toNysted, but the coming of a railroad in 1885 brought new life.Dannebrog was incorporated in 1886. By 1920 the population peakedat 436. Germans, Czechs, Poles, and Swedes also settled atDannebrog. Although the founders’ dream of an exclusivecolony of Danes was never realized, Dannebrog and the nearby townsof Nysted and Dannevirke preserve the Danish heritage. In 1989 theNebraska Legislature proclaimed Dannebrog as Nebraska’sDanish Capital.”
From its name to the many festivals held throughout the year,Dannebrog can readily be seen as the Danish Capital of Nebraska.Dannebrog gets its name from the Danish flag, and the influencedoes not end there. This small town is close to Grand Island andmany recreational areas, such as Sherman Lake. Festivals andculture pervade the feel of the town. Grundlovs Fest, held eachJune, commemorates the anniversary of the signing of Denmark's FreeConstitution. Food, music, and parades accompany this celebration.The annual Old-fashioned Danish Christmas celebration is held eachyear, with artists, crafts, food, carolers, music, and an Adventcandlelight service. This small town has a charm that is anappealing look at history, heritage, and hospitality.
Dowse Sod House (NE)
The Dowse Sod House located in Custer County is a wonderfulexample of the early sod houses constructed by pioneers settling onthe plains. Materials generally used to construct homes, such astimber, were scare on the Plains and resourceful pioneers used whatthey could. The Dowse Sod House was built in 1900, a little laterthan many of the first pioneers, but uses the sod brickconstruction. Wood frames were later added, but the site remains asan example of the sod houses that were built in centralNebraska.
Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park (NE)
Fort Hartstuff was an active post during 1874-1881. The postoperated during the Plains Indian Wars and functioned as a reliefpost for settlers on the plains. In addition to this, it became asocial center where settlers could find work as well as sellproduce from their farms. When the railroad came through, there wasno more need for the fort and it was closed. Today, the NebraskaGame and Parks commission runs the area as a living history site.On holidays and Sundays, guides in period uniforms interpret thehistory regarding the post.
Happy Jack Peak and Chalk Mine (NE)
Happy Jack Chalk Mine and Peak allows you to enjoy the beauty ofthe North Loup River Valley on top of Happy Jack Peak (2000 ft.)and to experience the only publicly accessible room and pillar minein North America. The Happy Jack Chalk Mine began operation in 1877with miners carving tunnels and cavers who dug for chalk rock whichlies below ground. The mined ceased operation shortly after WWII,but today you can descend to the mine which allows you to exploreabout 460 of the 6,000 feet of honeycombed caverns. This experiencewill not only take you back in time to the mining era of Nebraskanhistory, but also to the time when much of Nebraska was covered byan inland sea. Fossilized remains of sea creatures can be seenamong the many sediments of the cave. Happy Jack Chalk Mine getsits name from Jack Swearengen who built a dugout on the side of thehill. He helped new settlers in the area, and became known as HappyJack because of his cheerful personality. Hiking, picnicking,wildlife, and plant viewing are some of the outdoor experiencesyou'll find here.
near Scotia, NE