From Prairie Grasslands to Man-Made Forests: Discover Nebraska's Natural Wonders - Atlas Obscura Lists

From Prairie Grasslands to Man-Made Forests: Discover Nebraska's Natural Wonders

From a subterranean network of hidden tunnels to the largest man-made forest in the country, the wonders of nature are extraordinary.

The Tree-Planter’s State is not a moniker that Nebraska takes lightly. That’s because what early explorers once described as the “great American desert” is now home to 1.5 million acres of forest land. After all, it is the founding state of Arbor Day, a holiday devoted to celebrating trees. In fact, Nebraskans planted more than one million trees in 1872, the first year of the day’s annual observance. But these dynamic organisms are only one of many natural wonders existing across the state; all of which have inspired an incredible legacy of environmental conservation and stewardship.

Take Toadstool Geologic Park, a desert landscape—tucked amid the prairie grasslands of northwest Nebraska—that’s brimming with mushroom-shaped hoodoos. Millions of years of erosion have created this otherworldly landscape, a one-time river bed still containing the fossilized remains of saber-toothed cats and enormous “thunder beasts” called brontotheres. There’s also Robber’s Cave, a 5,600-foot-long subterranean cavern that lies below Lincoln. Over the years, this network of hidden tunnels was used for everything from storing beer to hosting early 20th century gatherings of the University of Nebraska’s Palladian Literary Society. It now serves as a time capsule of sorts, with the names, initials, and handprints of all who’ve come and gone here decorating seemingly every surface of its Dakota sandstone walls.

From a geographic spire known as Chimney Rock that once greeted settlers traveling west along the Oregon Trail, to an 20,000-acre expanse of ponderosa pine trees, which make up the largest man-made forest in the country, Nebraska is home to a vast array of attractions that highlight nature and its surprising offerings. Let this inspire your next adventure to the Cornhusker State.

Scotia, Nebraska

Happy Jack Chalk Mine

After sitting abandoned for decades, this historic mine is now the only publicly accessible chalk room and pillar mine in North America.
Sponsored by Nebraska Tourism
Valentine, Nebraska

Merritt Reservoir

In addition to fishing and camping, this spot in Nebraska’s Sandhills is one of the world’s darkest places.
Sponsored by Nebraska Tourism

This post is sponsored by Nebraska Tourism. Click here to learn more.