| WESTERN NEBRASKA |
Unplug from the digital world and start your Nebraska adventure at its highest point (Panorama Point), with a stunning view of three different states at the same time.
| SWEEPING PRAIRIE PLAINS
On the seemingly boundless grasslands of far southwestern Nebraska, in an area dotted with working cattle ranches, farms, and towering windmills, lies the highest point in the state, Panorama Point. At an elevation of 5424 feet, this unique destination should undoubtedly be on any peak bagger or Highpointer’s to-do list.
Kimball County residents Art Henrickson and Claude Alden, using a World War 1 altimeter, discovered the site in October of 1951, which is now located on the High Point Bison Ranch.
Be sure to bring cash, as the site is located on private property on a working bison ranch, and there is a $3 per person entrance fee, which can be deposited in a box on your way into the trail.
Don’t trust Google Maps in this instance for directions, as it will direct you to a home near the property. Instead, continue on past the large white house on your right, which Google Maps will erroneously try to tell you is Panorama Point, another half a mile or so until you reach the final turn-off at the entrance to the site, which is just over a mile of the graveled trail which was repaired with the assistance of the Highpointers Foundation in 2016.
The group has also installed signs to assist visitors in their travels to Panorama Point, and to warn about bison, which are roaming free on the property.
Feel free to take photos of the bison and other wildlife from your vehicle, including pronghorn and whitetail deer, but do not get out until you reach the high point site, as bison can be unpredictable and dangerous, weighing over 2,000 lbs and capable of reaching speeds of up to 35 mph, and there is no cell phone service available if you are injured by one of them.
Once you reach the top, which is a gradual ascent across the gently rolling prairie rather than the steep climb point that you would expect with a state’s highest point, you will find a monument surrounded by a bison-proof railing which was placed in 1971, a metal desk with a register in its drawer where you can log your visit, and a bench installed by the Highpointers Foundation, which faces southwest and provides a view of the distant mountains in Colorado and Wyoming. Sit on the bench, unwind, and enjoy views of the endless sky and prairie with zero distractions from the outside world. Keep your camera handy and a sharp eye out for the winged and four-legged residents of the area, and for rattlesnakes, which are active in the warmer months of the year.
After visiting Panorama Point, be sure to visit either the Kimball County Chamber of Commerce office located in downtown Kimball, or the High Point Welcome Center of Nebraska, located at Exit 20 on Interstate 80, for a certificate of completion for visiting the site.
The roads are in better condition accessing the property from Wyoming than they are from Bushnell or Kimball, Nebraska, so this is the recommended route. From the intersection of Highway 30 and Beech Street/County Road 164 in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming, travel 10 miles until you reach the intersection of County Roads 164 and 203/Nebraska County Road 6S.
Travel 3.4 miles until you reach Nebraska County Road 5W. From 5W, travel 2 miles south until you reach the access gate. Turn right and cross the double cattle guard, which was installed because bison can jump a single cattle guard. From the cattle guard, stay on the road and drive another 1.2 miles to reach the site.
Be sure to bring your camera and water, and have a full tank of fuel in your vehicle in case you get lost, as there is very little cell phone service and Google Maps will not work properly once you leave the paved road. The roads are accessible to nearly all vehicles and will not require 4-wheel drive in the summer and fall.