Chimney Rock in Bayard, Nebraska, is a place rich in history and stark beauty. The Oregon Trail, the Mormon Trail, the Deadwood Trail, and the Pony Express all passed through this area.
As we were hiking to see this rock formation, we first encountered Chimney Rock Cemetery. The owner of the Chimney Rock Pioneer Crossing RV park where we stayed told us to be sure to visit it to see the graves of pioneers whose lives ended before they reached their destination. It was a reminder of the dedication and spirit of adventure of the early settlers.
Seeing this little cemetery made their sacrifice more real to us.
After spending some time there, we began our hike to Chimney Rock. In Nebraska, the land is so wide open, stretching as far as your eye can see that it’s hard to judge distances. It didn’t look like it was very far of a walk to get to Chimney Rock, but in reality we had to hike up and down three valleys before we reached the spot. It took about 45 minutes. We were on the lookout for rattle snakes as they are common here, and we were hiking through some overgrown areas with plenty of places for them to hide. It’s a very arid climate, dusty and hot.
An amazing sight was the sheer number of grasshoppers and dragonflies that accompanied us. The video below captures some of that wonder.
Along the way we saw interesting plants, such as this huge dandelion, which was about the size of the palm of my hand, wildflowers, and cactus-like plants. We also saw a turtle and flushed a deer from its hiding spot, startling both him and us.
Finally we reached Chimney Rock! It’s a spectacular sight whether you’re near or far. Mark climed as high as he could. If you look closely in the middle picture below, you can see him on one of the rock ledges.
We discovered at night Chimney Rock is lit from colored spotlights placed at its foundation. We had a spectacular view from our campsite.
Hope you have fun this week kicking up some dust!