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Kimball, Nebraska, United States

Chimney Rock and Scotts Bluff National Monument Loop

A quick drive off of I-80 will take you to two National Historic Monuments.

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Difficulty: Easy
Length: 133 miles / 214 km
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
 
Overview: You will exit off of I-80 at the town of Kimball. Following this guide will take you on a loop drive through ranch land over a rugged ridge of bluffs (Reddington Gap) to Chimney Rock. Going the path less traveled will take you to some cool places you might not see by taking the major highways. After you cross over the gap in the mountains you may be greeted by a herd of hungry cows thinking you are the feed truck!

After checking out Chimney Rock (it's engraved on the state quarter) and the visitor center you will continue north on a very pretty scenic highway to the Scotts Bluff National Monument just north of Gerring, NE. You will then take the major highway Route 71 back from Gerring to the interstate passing by the Wildcat Hills Recreational area on the way. Allow yourself half a day to make this loop and appreciate fully all the sites along the way.


Tips: You will start at exit 20 off of I-80 in Kimball Nebraska. I don't believe there are any fees you will need to pay along the way.

Points of Interest

Junction
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Exit 20 - Kimball, NE

Take the Kimball exit and head towards the town on route 71 heading north. You will go through the town of Kimball. Your next turn will be a right on to Route 88.
Junction
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Right onto Route 88

Take a right onto Route 88. This will take you the back way (more fun) over some country roads and a mountain pass towards Chimney Rock. I always feel it is more fun to take the path less traveled so you can really see the countryside.
Viewpoint
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Reddington Gap

A fun back-roads way to get over the ridge towards Chimney Rock. When I was here in 2006 they were just starting to pave these back roads... but that was before the recession.... so they may still be dirt. They weren't too rough though and I would expect a car to make it over the gap pretty easily. You may get some funny looks by local cowboys and ranchers as to why a tourist is taking this route.... and you also may have some cows try to visit your ride thinking you are a feed truck like we did!
Junction
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Take a Left

I'm not sure this road even has a name. Just follow the track in this guide. If you don't want to take the shortcut backroads to the visitor center just continue north to Route 92 and head north (left). Just past where Route 26 takes a left off of 92 you'll see a turnoff for the Chimney Rock visitor Center.
Junction
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Another Left

Take another left here and continue straight on the road until you come to the Chimney Rock area.
Junction
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Viewpoint and Right to Visitor Center

If you continue down this road you will come to a very close viewpoint of Chimney Rock. Take a right here when done to check out the visitor center at the next POI.
Viewpoint
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Chimney Rock Visitor Center

The Ethel and Christopher J. Abbott Visitor Center. Take some time to check it out.
Junction
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Chimney Rock Visitor Center Turnoff

Take a left here and continue on Route 92 which is a National Scenic Highway that will take you north to Scotts Bluff. You will have views towards Chimney Rock from this Scenic Highway as well.
Viewpoint
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Scotts Bluff Viewpoint

This is a viewing area below the Scotts Bluff National Monument. It is a good spot for some photos. When you are done continue on the road that winds up the Scotts Bluff Monument for different views.
Mountain
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Top of Scotts Bluff National Monument

You'll have different views down towards the town of Scotts Bluff from the top. I never personally drove up here myself because of time constraints but I included it in this guide as it is worth it if you have time.
Junction
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5 Rocks Road back to Route 71.

Take a right on this road as it will be a shortcut to put you back onto 71 faster.
Viewpoint
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Wildcate Hills State Recreation Area

This is an area of rocky buttes and canyons lined with pine trees. There is a nature center in this recreational area as well. If you have time check out the link I provided in this guide for more information on the area.
Junction
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Back to the Interstate

Hope you enjoyed the drive! I'll leave you with a couple cool pics of distant thunderstorms and rain over the open Nebraska Hills that we saw on our drive on 71 back to the interstate.
Pictures in this guide taken by: JonathanEllinger, tobyclick

Jonathan Ellinger

Chimney Rock and Scotts Bluff National Monument Loop Map


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About the Author

JonathanEllinger
JonathanEllinger
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Although I have climbed over 250 mountains from various places around the U.S. and have hiked in Europe...

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