Skip to content

Seeing Scotts Bluff from a new perspective

February 13, 2011

Today was the kind of day in western Nebraska when you could use a metal chain as a wind sock. Winds 20 miles per hour, gusting up to 50 or so. But the temps were real nice, and it was sunny.

Husband and I decided to go hike the bluff, despite the wind . . . the SOUTH bluff of Scotts Bluff National Monument, that is.

We started to wonder whether what we were attempting was wise when we saw – or, rather, didn’t see – the bluffs because of all the dust in the air.

View from 21St Street

Once we got closer, the view got better, though note the clouds of dust kicking up in Michell Pass. The winds were probably higher through there.

The rabbits around the visitors center were keeping a low profile in the wind.

aerodynamic bunneh?

And we were about to attempt a hike up a 400 or 500-foot outcrop?

The south bluff. Destination: the outcrop in the upper left of this photo.

There are no trails on the south bluff. You just have to wing it.

Here's a Google map capture. The visitors center is in the top of the image. The outcrop we were targeting is in the middle of the bottom edge of the image.

Our hike across the grassland towards the bluff was insanely windy. Just about got knocked over a few times. But eventually, we got into the lee of the bluffs, and the wind hardly bothered us at all.

Cool find on the way up: possible fossil bits. The rocks sure as shootin’ looked like ends of bone to me. There were just these two bits and a tiny sliver, and that was it.

For the record, I LEFT THE ‘FOSSILS’ WHERE THEY LAY. I do not want to risk the 10 thousand gajillion dollar fine or whatever the going rate is for prosecution of theft of government resources. They are probably buried again under windblown dust.

Back to the hike . . . at first we attempted to go up a grassy area between the tree lines, but it proved snowy, slippery and slow going.

Husband slipped and put his hand onto prickly pear cactus a few times on this slope. He did not enjoy that.

So, we backtracked down through the treeline and discovered something interesting. Well, interesting to a biology nerd, anyway.

Poo. Carnivore poo. Large carnivore poo.

Interesting that both piles were atop rocks right in the middle of the "pathway" down through the trees and that this second pile was atop rocks and debris. I read that mountain lions, especially males, tend to defecate on top of debris they've scratched up in the middle of a pathway.

There have been a few reported sightings of a mountain lion around the bluff recently. I wouldn’t be surprised if we had just found his litter box there in the trees. We kept a sharp eye out on any ledges or trees above us, just in case.

We struck out across a steeply sloped grassy area that turned out to be the better way up.

Lovely view of Mitchell Pass.

Made it to the base of the steep part of the bluff!

I found a piece of rock with a hole in it.

Hello, sweetie!

Gotta keep climbing . . .

Ow! Stoopid, dumb yucca!

It's not a real hike until someone winds up bleeding.

Found this odd manufactured-looking thing sticking out of the eroding sandstone. It was about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. Piece of wire? Embedded in the rock by a tornado?? Who knows?

Made it to the top!

Got to see Dome Rock from a new angle.

We would have tried to find our way up along some other ridgetops, but it was getting late in the day. Time to turn back.

I’m glad husband is willing to accompany me on these adventures in life.

Love you, dear.

Copyright 2011 by Katie Bradshaw

14 Comments leave one →
  1. vnewman permalink
    February 13, 2011 9:10 pm

    Excellent find with the poo. I suspect the same as you.

    James and I almost did that hike today but it was sooo windy. Good for you!

  2. Suemommy permalink
    February 14, 2011 3:47 am

    Loved the picture of Hubby taken through the hole in the rock. I wish I were as adventurous as you two.

  3. February 14, 2011 8:15 am

    I’ve lived here for 34 years and haven’t ever hiked the south bluff. I only found out that was possible in the late ’90s when my college roommate told me. She was a park ranger there. I was always worried about snakes but didn’t think to try it in the cold months. It looks like there could be other “dangers” lurking though. Next time you go on hike I’ll lend you my tracks and scat book. 🙂

  4. Rick Myers permalink
    February 14, 2011 8:39 am

    Great fun. We were “just across the way” at the Cedar Canyon Wildlife Area. Weren’t quite as adventurous as we were hoping to get on some bighorn sheep. Did see “carnivore poo” like you did, almost identical. Do you think a big cat?
    Back in the draw we were working it was absolutely wonderful, sans wind.

  5. February 15, 2011 7:42 am

    Love that picture of Dome Rock. After seeing Val’s post and now your’s, I MUST hike the south bluff for myself! I wonder if I’ll be able to talk Dan the Man into climbing it with me?

  6. Shane Coop permalink
    February 15, 2011 1:32 pm

    I didn’t realize it was legal to do that? I always assumed those areas were off limits especially since they are so hard-core about you staying on the trail on the north side.

    • Katie Bradshaw permalink
      February 15, 2011 1:53 pm

      Funny, isn’t it? I know there is some danger of people slipping off the edge on the trail side, especially with rambunctious kiddos around, so that may be part of the issue. Also, many, many more people head up the trailed spaces, so I suppose there is more potential for erosion damage.

      The hike up the south bluff is not an easy one. There were many places where I could have slipped and fallen and injured myself. Also, I would not consider hiking that area in snake season. No way, no how!

  7. February 15, 2011 6:52 pm

    I love your adventuresome spirit!


  1. Happy 95th, NPS: ‘backstage’ hike at SBNM « SCB Citizen
  2. Why I love Wyobraska: a 2011 photo retrospective « SCB Citizen
  3. Hello, kitty « SCB Citizen
  4. Monument Marathon and its western Nebraska scenery « SCB Citizen
  5. Top 10 reasons to come to western Nebraska « SCB Citizen
  6. In the works: new trails at Scotts Bluff National Monument « SCB Citizen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: