Nebraska is full of incredible scenery that you’ll never see if you stay on I-80 all the way through. Venture out into the state and you’ll find unforgettable sights on Nebraska’s scenic byways.
1. Bridges to Buttes Byway
This 197-mile byway stretches from east of Valentine all the way to the Wyoming border on Highway 20. It may offer the most variety in terms of scenery as it passes through the Sandhills and Pine Ridge before taking you past the impressive buttes of western Nebraska.
2. Gold Rush Byway
Another amazingly diverse scenic drive, the 158-mile Gold Rush Byway stretches across the Panhandle from the Colorado border up to the South Dakota border. Following Highway 385, the Gold Rush Byway rolls through hills, valleys, buttes, and historic towns.
3. Heritage Highway
This 238-mile drive runs along Highway 136 from Edison to Brownville. Along the way you'll see some of the most incredible untouched prairie land in the state. You'll want to budget extra time on this route to visit all of the museums and historic sites along the way.
4. Lewis and Clark Scenic Byway
This route is rather short at just 82 miles, but it runs though some of Nebraska's oldest historic sites. As the name implies, this is part of the route that Lewis and Clark took along the Missouri River when exploring the area. It runs on Highway 75 from Dakota City south to just past De Soto.
5. Lincoln Highway Scenic & Historic Byway
Nebraska was the final state to pave its portion of the nationwide Lincoln Highway, which provided an automobile link from New York to San Francisco for the first time. It is known today as Highway 30, and it stretches all the way through the state, passing through many historic towns and other sites along the way.
6. Loup Rivers Scenic Byway
Jump off of I-80 in central Nebraska to follow Highways 11 and 91 along some of the most lush natural beauty in the state. You'll encounter a multitude of opportunities to stop and enjoy the wildlife and scenery, as well as some fantastic little towns.
7. Outlaw Trail Scenic Byway
Highway 12 is also known as the Outlaw Trail, and it will take you along the northern border of Nebraska from the Missouri River to Valentine. You'll meander through the places where Jesse James and his gang hid out, pass by the beautiful "Nebraska Everglades" region, and pass through the Santee Sioux reservation, all while learning about the colorful history of the region, should you decide to stop at historic sites along the way.
8. Sandhills Journey
The 272-mile Sandhills Journey, which follows Highway 2 through the Sandhills, has been named one of the top 10 scenic roads in the country. Your drive will take you through the Nebraska "desert" and some of the most pristine, unspoiled landscapes in the entire state.
9. Western Trails Scenic and Historic Byway
This 119-mile scenic route begins in Ogallala and takes you to the Wyoming border. You'll travel along the path that pioneers took when they headed west and see some of the impressive rock formations that entranced those early travelers. Ash Hollow is on this route, and you definitely don't want to miss the prehistoric treasures there.
One of the best parts of traveling these scenic routes is stopping off to visit historic sites to learn more about our state’s history. Nebraska’s true beauty is waiting for you on these country roads. Why not explore them and see just how amazing our state really is?