Looking for an interesting weekend road trip in March? Try the Sandhill Crane Migration in Nebraska. Along the Platte River hundreds of thousands of these birds fill the sky and it draws quite a crowd, including Jane Goodall, a famous English primatologist and anthropologist. Sandhill Cranes are a large species of birds and more than 80% of the world’s Sandhill Crane population is in Nebraska during this time.
You can book a blind to view the migration up close, it’s a small wooden building about the size of a box car with cutouts for viewing. The birds fly right overhead and you can watch as they gather along the river banks about 100 feet away. At first there are only a few birds, and then all of a sudden there are thousands of them, the squawking is tremendous! My family went when I was seven and we had to bundle up because the blinds can get chilly at sunset.
One of the most popular places to watch the cranes, and where I saw them, is Rowe Sanctuary. They also held a Crane Festival with activities for kids. It’s about a 25-minute drive from the town of Kearney, which is just over a 5-hour drive from Denver. Tickets for the blinds are around $40/person, which includes a guided tour, but there are cheaper options for different viewing areas. You’re in the blinds for two hours at sunset or sunrise. Don’t forget to bring binoculars!
For additional fun you can visit Pioneer Village in nearby Minden. The village has 28 buildings on 20 acres including a pony express station, general store, sod house and one-room school. You’ll find 50,000 items of historical value, as well as buildings filled with old planes, trains, and automobiles.
This is a great trip for all ages, I went with my family and my grandparents and we all had a great time. You can find affordable lodging in Kearney or Grand Island.