For those interested in the natural beauty and history of the Great Plains, the Ash Hollow State Historical Park is a must visit destination.
Situated near the town of Lewellen, in the western part of Nebraska, this beautiful and unique destination is located in the North Platte River valley.
It covers over 1,000 acres and contains several sites and attractions of historical and cultural significance.
One of the major ones is the Ash Hollow Cave. This natural limestone formation has been used by humans for thousands of years and is believed to have been a shelter for the Pawnee and Sioux Native American tribes, as well as early European explorers and settlers.
Another historic site at the park is the Oregon-California Trail, which was used by pioneers and settlers in the mid-19th century as they made their way westward to settle new lands.
In addition to these, the park includes a visitor center, which doubles as a museum, housing exhibits and information about the park’s history and natural features. It also has some nice picnic areas where you can enjoy an outdoor meal.
Guests who come to Ash Hollow State Historical Park are able to immerse themselves in its captivating landscape in a variety of ways.
Outlined below is a brief rundown of some of the most prominent sites and attractions located within this Nebraska state park.
Ash Hollow Cave at Ash Hollow State Historical Park
The cave is open to the public for guided tours, which offer a fascinating glimpse into the history and geology of the area.
The guided tours of Ash Hollow Cave typically begin at the park’s visitor center. From there, visitors are led on a short hike through the park’s rugged terrain to the cave entrance. The hike is relatively easy and takes about 20 minutes to complete.
Once inside the cave, visitors can see evidence of its long history. The cave walls are covered with graffiti left by early explorers and travelers. Some of the graffiti is hundreds of years old and provides a fascinating glimpse into their lives.
The cave is also home to a variety of unique geological features including stalactites and stalagmites, which are formed over thousands of years by mineral deposits. In addition, the cave is also home to spectacular and unique formations known as flowstone, which are created by water flowing over cave walls.
Oregon-California Trail at Ash Hollow State Historical Park
Within Ash Hollow State Historical Park you will find several sites related to the Oregon-California Trail.
One of the most notable is Windlass Hill, which was a steep incline that pioneers had to navigate while traveling along the trail. The hill was so steep that pioneers had to use ropes and pulleys to lower their wagons down the incline.
Another significant site is the Grave of Rebecca Winters, a pioneer woman who died while traveling along the trail with her family. Her grave is marked with a monument that provides a poignant reminder of the challenges and dangers faced by those who traveled along the trail.
Other things of interest on the trail include the ruts left by wagons. This acts as a visual link to the thousands of people who traveled along the trail over the years.
Museum at Ash Hollow State Historical Park
In addition to the physical sites related to the Oregon-California Trail, Ash Hollow State Historical Park also has a museum that provides information and exhibits about the trail and its history.
The museum features artifacts and displays that help visitors understand what life was like for the pioneers who traveled along the trail.
Hiking at Ash Hollow State Historical Park
Aside from the main sites, hiking is a popular activity at Ash Hollow State Historical Park.
The park has several trails that offer beautiful views of the North Platte River valley and the surrounding hills and prairies.
One of the most popular trails is the Windlass Hill Trail, which leads to a viewpoint at the top of the iconic hill.
Wildlife watching and birding at Ash Hollow State Historical Park
If you are into wildlife viewing and birding you will love the opportunities presented by Ash Hollow State Historical Park.
Overall, the park is home to several species of animals, including deer, coyotes, and prairie dogs, which you may see during your time there.
In addition, it also houses a variety of bird breeds like bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, and western meadowlarks. Most of which reside in the trees around its woodland area.
Pets are allowed at the park, although there are some restrictions set in place with regards to their presence there.
This includes them being well behaved at all times and restrained on a lease. In addition, pets are not allowed in certain buildings or sections of the park.
If you intend to bring your four legged friend with you on your visit it would be worth contacting the main office for further details.
Unfortunately there are no camping options available at the park.
However, within 20 miles of it there are several campgrounds you can choose to stay at. These include the Cabin at the Cove, Eagle Cave Hideaway, Vans Lakeview Fishing Camp and McGreer Camper Park.
Between them they offer a range of sites suitable for RVs and tent campers. These include ones that come with hooks up for water and electricity, as well as more primitive sites. At some of them there are also cabins available too.
Depending on which one you stay at, amenities at the campground might include hot showers and flush toilets, a dump station, camp store, children’s playground and maybe a swimming pool.
Ash Hollow State Historical Park
Lewellen, NE 69147
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Ash Hollow State Historical Park:
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