If you have lived in Nebraska all of your life you really should be able to say you have visited Chimney Rock. My parents claim I have been there, yet I have no memory of it and have never seen any pictures of such an event. Not only is Chimney Rock a really wonderful sight to see, it forces you to think about the Oregon Trail and how damn tough those people must have been. I honestly do not think I could have managed crossing that desert plain in the heat or snow…especially with a baby in tow. Let me also mention that everywhere we went there were signs warning us about rattlesnakes. I was on the lookout the entire time and luckily never spotted one. We did however spot this cute prairie girl hat in the gift shop!
You cannot get super close to Chimney Rock, unless you are on a horse or willing to hike through rattlesnake alley. Of course, Chuck managed to get closer by going down into a ravine…he managed to avoid any snake attacks. Our original plan included going on a covered wagon and eating a cookout dinner with the Oregon Trail Wagon Train, but it was going to go until about 8:30 pm and due to the time change Edith had been getting pretty crazy at about 7 pm. Maybe next time. Nearby, there was a cemetery with about 20 graves of those who had lost their lives near Chimney Rock. Many of the gravestones looked updated. It was still a bit creepy, especially creepy was a straw doll that had weathered quite a bit in the elements.
About 20 miles from Chimney Rock, are Jailhouse and Courthouse Rocks. There is a gravel road that leads up to the rocks, but the closer you get the less you can see due to the climb of the hill. It was cool to see these rocks, but we also found a very impressive wall of hay in the field.
We stayed that night in Bayard which is about 3 miles from Chimney Rock. You can tell that it used to be a bustling town. There downtown was expansive but very few of the storefronts were filled. They did have a clean hotel and we managed to find a restaurant to eat at where the staff was very friendly. Overall I give this portion of the trip a 7 on at 10 point scale!