- 67 miles (107 km)
- 1 hour 15 minutes to one full day
- There is no fee to drive the byway, but individual attractions may chaarge a fee.
Go back to the land of trappers, traders, buffalo, and NativeAmericans. Lakes, rivers and unspoiled terrain await you as youtravel one of the most scenic routes Nebraska has to offer fromOmaha to South Sioux City.
The Missouri River parallels this byway (U.S. Highway 75). Thismajor river was the winding road navigated by early traffic, and isa source of commerce and recreation today. For centuries, it hasfed and shaped the personality of this fertile land. Poet JohnNeihardt was greatly moved by the river and the spiritual heritageof the Native Americans of the region. His work chronicles andpreserves the richness of the Sioux and Omaha Indian cultures.
As you venture onto the Lewis and Clark Scenic Byway, you canexperience the area first explored by Lewis and Clark in 1804 asearly day explorers, trying to find a route to the Pacific Ocean.This heavily wooded, green, lush region of Nebraska is home to twoNative American reservations found in the state—the Omaha andthe Winnebago nations.
It also includes some of the earliest settlements found anywherein Nebraska—Fort Atkinson, Decatur and South Sioux City.Farmland, rolling hills, Missouri River bluffs, and spectacularautumn colors await you along the Lewis and Clark Byway. It's aland of beauty and wonder that is sure to bring out the explorer inanyone.
Points of Interest
Points of Interest Along The Way
Black Elk-Neihardt Park (NE)
This park is named after Black Elk, a Lakota Sioux Indian chiefand John G. Neihardt. Neihardt, Nebraska's 'Poet Laureate inPerpetuity,' wrote about Black Elk in his epic "Black Elk Speaks."The park includes many reminders of the vision of Black Elk, mostprominent being the Tower of Four Winds. This tower stands 45 feethigh and includes a tall cross featuring a mosaic composed ofapproximately 50,000 pieces. The large mosaic features a messiahfigure with outstretched arms, while smaller mosaics are locatedthroughout the park. This monument stands as a reminder of BlackElk's vision of peace and unity for all people.
Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge (NE)
The Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge coves approximately3200 acres west of the Missouri River. Nature trails, picnic areas,biking, fishing, canoeing, and bird watching all allow visitors achance to see the natural wildlife habitat that lives along theMissouri River. Grasslands and a floodplain forest have beenrestored to encourage native trees and shrubs. Birds especiallylove this area and frequently nest and roost in the area. Raptors,wood ducks, and kingfishers all live in the area. There is avariety of different species of wildlife, such as beaver, raccoon,opossum, and other mammals.
Ft. Calhoun, NE
DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge (NE)
The DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge is known for the greatsights of migrating ducks and geese. The Missouri River Valley onwhich the Refuge lies, has undergone considerable change overmillions of years. Prehistoric flooding and the shifting MissouriRiver caused the Missouri River Valley to form. In more recentyears, since the 1800s, land clearing, draining, riverchannelization, and flood control have changed the nature of theland. The area acts as a stop for migrating ducks and geese now,and during normal years, a half million snow geese and 75,000 ducksuse the refuge for their fall migration. Other species of wildlifeinclude deer, cottontails, raccoons, coyotes, and fox squirrels.Various trails weave throughout the refuge to allow visitors achance to enjoy the plant and animal life. In addition to thesenatural features, you can see the hull of 178 foot Bertandsteamboat that lies buried in a pond. Fishing and boating are alsoavailable.
Ft. Calhoun, NE
Fort Atkinson State Historical Park (NE)
This Nebraska state park commemorates the first and largestmilitary post west of the Missouri River. In 1804, Lewis and Clarkmet with Native Americans on the "Council Bluff" near the spotwhere Fort Atkinson was later located. The long promontoryoverlooking the Missouri River was often a gathering place forNative Americans, fur traders and soldiers. Clark reported that thesite was ideal for a military fort. Accordingly, Fort Atkinson wasestablished in 1820. From 1820 to 1827, it had a garrison of 1,000soldiers within its walls. Fort Atkinson was an important gatewayto the fur region of the Upper Missouri and the Rocky Mountains. Itwas abandoned in 1827 to concentrate efforts further south wherethere was more traffic going west.
Located in Fort Calhoun
Fremont Dinner Train (NE)
This 30 mile round trip from Fremont to the historic town ofHooper takes you back in time to the 1940s. Once on board thisrenovated train, you can experience fine dining, USO shows,melodrama, wine tasting, period movies, and murder mysteries. Youcan either go on Friday or Saturday night, which is more formal.Sunday afternoon, the train ride is a more casual outing. You mayexplore the historic district of Hooper.
John G. Neihardt State Historic Site (NE)
John G. Neihardt is Nebraska's Poet Laureate who lived inBancroft from 1900-1920. He is most known for his work, "Black ElkSpeaks." Neihardt was a friend of Lakota Holy Man Black Elk whoinspired that work. At the site, there are many items that are fromBlack Elk, including the sacred hoop of the world, a drum, and apipe. The Neihardt Center has a library of secondary sources thathighlight the poet's life and legacy. This is available forresearches for inhouse use.
Lewis and Clark Trail (NE)
Explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark traveled theMissouri River on their “Corps of Discovery” to find aroute to the Pacific Ocean through the newly acquired LouisianaTerritory. They mapped the land as they went, recorded itsresources and contacted its native inhabitants. In the summer of1804, Lewis and Clark traveled through what is now eastern Nebraskaand western Iowa.
The Lewis and Clark Trail ultimately follows the route Lewis andClark took through 11 states. In Nebraska, the Trail follows theeastern Nebraska border, as well as the northern border along theMissouri River. The trail intersects with the Outlaw Trail in SouthSioux City. South Sioux City is a scenic stop on the Lewis andClark Trail, which is also home to some historic sites, such as theSgt. Floyd Monument, a 100-foot monument which memorializes Sgt.Floyd, the only officer to die during the Lewis and ClarkExpedition.
The mighty Missouri River played an important role in the Lewisand Clark Expedition, and there are many opportunities to view theMissouri River from Ponca State Park or Lewis and Clark Lake andRecreation Area. Opportunities to go boating, fishing, or campingare also along the river.
The Trail is on or adjacent to this byway.
Omaha offers fun and exciting opportunities for the visitor. Notfar from the Lewis and Clark Scenic and Historic Byway, Omaha hasgreat food, performing and visual arts, museums, sporting events,and local attractions. The area is a growing metropolitan area thatis at the hub of business and communications. At the same time,Omaha is home to a Farmers Market. Omaha has been an importantgateway to the West. The Mormon Trail established Winter Quartersand from there proceeded to Utah. The area was home to Fort Omahawhich was the army headquarters for the Army during the warsagainst the Plains Indians. Museums, such as the Durham WesternHeritage Museum, and historic sites document these manyaccomplishments. There are a variety of art museums and musicfestivals in the area, such as the Summer Arts Festival, Jazz onthe Green, Shakespeare on the Green, and Joslyn Art Museum. Omahais also known for its golf courses, the many hiking and bikingtrails, and well stocked fishing ponds. Baseball is the sport towatch in Omaha, and the nearby Missouri River provides a variety ofrecreational opportunities.
Omaha Indian Tribe of Nebraska and Iowa (NE)
The Omaha Indian Reservation is located along the byway. TheMissouri River has been an important river for many people, and theOmaha Tribe is no exception. According to oral tradition, theMissouri River is the location where this tribe first settled. Theyhave remained in this area for over 400 years. A pow wow, orharvest festival, is held every August in Macy.
Ponca State Park (NE)
Two miles (3.2 km) north of Ponca on Highway 26E, Ponca StatePark is a perfect getaway to enjoy the landscape of Nebraska.Situated astride the picturesque Missouri River bluffs innortheastern Nebraska, Ponca State Park is at the eastern gatewayof the Missouri National Recreational River, a 59-mile (94 km)section featuring the only unchannelized section of the riverbordering Nebraska. The National Park Service declared the park aspart of the Lewis and Clark Historical Trail. This state parkoffers the visitor many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors fromthe extensive trail system, to camping and cookouts.
Inside the park, there are camping facilities, both modern andprimitive, as well as cabins. In addition to these choices,visitors may enjoy the programs the park offers on astronomy,ecology, history, and paleontology. Ponca State Park is a paradisefor observing wildlife, especially bird watching in the fall andwinter. Deer, wild turkey and even bald eagles reside in the PoncaState Park. The park also is home to unique plants and trees. Infact, in the center of the park a black oak tree, the "Old OakTree," has survived 360 years. Camping, hiking, horseback riding,fishing, cookouts, family events and more await visitors to thepark. Visitors are also able to view three states from theTri-State Look Out.
near Ponca, NE