Spend a day experiencing the incredible sight of over 600,000 cranes converging on the Platte River Valley. View thousands of cranes in flight as they return to the river at dusk.
Tuesday, April 4, 2023
11:45 am – 11:00 pm
Tour starts at west Omaha locations
$125 per person
Price includes coach transportation, driver gratuity, attraction admissions and evening dinner
Tour reservation deadline March 4, 2023
Highlights: Fort Kearny State Historical Park - Great Platte River Archway Monument - Driving tour of fields filled with sandhill cranes - Viewing of cranes returning to Platte River
This afternoon we depart for central Nebraska to view one of nature’s greatest shows. More than half of all the world’s crane population gathers along the central Platte River to rest and get ready for the annual journey north to their nesting grounds. The spring crane migration is most impressive because the cranes spend more time in the area and less on stopovers. Our final destination is Kearney, which is often called the Sandhill Crane Capital of the World.
Upon arriving in Kearney, we will visit the Fort Kearny State Historical Park. Established in 1848, this was the first fort built to protect travelers on the Oregon-California Trail. The interpretive center exhibits the history of the fort and the sandhill crane migration. A ranger will meet our group to give a brief introductory presentation on what makes the sandhill cranes migration special in Nebraska. The interpretive center gift shop also has books and souvenirs related to the migration. In the evening we return to the park’s bridge to view the cranes coming back to the river from the surrounding cornfields.
Next, we visit the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument that spans more than 300 feet above Interstate 80. From the Oregon Trail era through today, the Archway’s historical exhibit tells the story of the adventurers who followed the Great Platte River Road and helped build America. The exhibit starts at Fort Kearny in 1848 with sections on the Oregon Trail, California Trail, and Mormon Trail that converged at the fort before heading west. As visitors progress through the exhibit, the displays features Oregon Trail wagon replica, a 49er’s campsite, the Transcontinental Railroad, traveler’s life on the Lincoln Highway, and today’s Interstate 80. The exhibit ends with a replica drive-in and 1950’s style cafe with windows providing views over the interstate. After exploring the monument, we will enjoy a catered evening meal in their on-site banquet room.
Departing the Archway monument, we will explore the backroads and cornfields filled with thousands of standing cranes. One of the most amazing sights you can witness is the so-called crane dance when they bow to each other, flap their wings, and jump to attract the opposite sex. Sandhill cranes pair during their spring migration and will stay with one partner for life. As dusk approaches, we will return to Fort Kearny State Historical Park and their crane viewing area on the pedestrian walking bridge over the Platte River. Soon the sky above will be filled with thousands of cranes as they fly over the bridge to their overnight destination on the river.