Scotts Bluff was yet another landmark for early pioneers on the Platte River Road section of the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails. We could see Scotts Bluff from the campground, so it was definitely something we planned to see while we were in the area. Scotts Bluff was named for Hiram Scott who was a fur trader who died near the bluff in 1828. Today, Scotts Bluff National Monument preserves the area around Scotts Bluff.
The night before, our friends Alan and Marilyn pulled into the campground. They had sent us an email a few days earlier to let us know they were heading our way and were planning to stop and spend some time in Gering.
The four of us went to Scotts Bluff, and Alan was kind enough to drive. As usual, we started by watching the movie and viewing the displays in the visitor center to get oriented. Margery also took time to model a pioneer bonnet in the visitor center gift shop.
From the visitor center, we followed the trail up through Mitchell Pass where the pioneer trail used to run. Sentinel Rock is on the left and Eagle Rock is on the Right.
We decided to walk the half-mile (each way) trail up to the crest of the pass. In the 1840s, the pioneer trails went about 8 miles north and east of here through Robidoux Pass because of steep-walled ravines here at Scotts Bluff. Robidoux Pass was named for Antoine Robidoux who had a trading post at Robidoux Pass. In 1851, the U. S. Army Engineers opened a road through Mitchell Pass, and the pioneers started using the new route. The next photo is the view west from Mitchell Pass.
Although the pioneer trail wasn't as distinctly visible as it was at Wagon Ruts Historic Site where it had carved its way into the soft sandstone, we could see the depression in the earth in several places where the trail ran. The Oregon and California Trails and the Pony Express route ran through Mitchell Pass. Although the Mormon Trail runs concurrent with the Oregon and California Trails in many places all the way to Fort Bridger, here it ran on the other side of the North Platte River. The trails were marked with wooden posts.
The trail runs through the depression that starts in the lower left of the next photo. The white arrows show the locations of trail markers.
There is a 1.6-mile hiking trail (each way) to the top of Scotts Bluff. There is also a road. Since the trail looked steep at the end (the summit is a climb of about 435 feet and most of the climb is in the last mile) and since it was close to noon and it was quite hot, we drove to the top. From the top, you can get great views to the north, to the east and to the south. The next photo is looking east with Saddle Rock in the center of the picture.
We could just make out Chimney Rock about 20 miles away on the horizon. The photo below is a telephoto shot. Chimney Rock is on the horizon right near the center.
The next photo is a view to the south from the top of the bluff. The visitor center is toward the left. The hiking trail to the top of the bluff runs from the visitor center toward the lower left, and the semi-circular road is the road to the top. It goes through a tunnel and then runs along the north side of Mitchell Pass and loops up around the far side of the bluff.
On our way back down we got a glimpse of where we hiked along the pioneer trail earlier. The dotted white line shows the approximate location of the trail.
We had a good time with Alan and Marilyn. In addition to going to Scotts Bluff together, we went over to their rig several evenings to play Wii. As you may know, Wii is an electronic game that is a little more physical than most while still being fairly low impact. Wii comes with a couple of sports games that include bowling, golf, tennis and baseball. It's not nearly as strenuous as the real thing, but it gets you up off the couch and moving around. You play the games while holding the remote like a bowling ball, golf club, tennis racket, etc. We may have to look into getting a Wii for those times when we're not sightseeing and hiking and are tempted to be more sedentary.
On our last night in Gering the four of us went to Rosita's. Rosita's is a small Mexican restaurant which doesn't seem to have a web site, but they were written up on the web site roadfood.com.
Paul liked the metal sculptures on the roof and in the parking lot.
Rosita's specializes in deep-fried corn chips that are delish! Dinners run around $8, but on Tuesday (which is when we happened to be there) they have a special that includes two dinners, two soft drinks and an appetizer for only $20. We had beef nachos for our appetizers. The fried chips were smothered with cheese, ground taco meat, guacamole and jalapenos.
For dinner, we had chili rellenos that were great. We ended up taking half our meals back to the motor home with us. Alan and Marilyn had enchiladas that they also said were good.
We had a hard time deciding on dessert, but Marilyn and Alan ended up ordering churros that were like biscuits covered with cinnamon and sugar with honey on the side. Rosita's has a different name (we can't remember what it was) for what we are used to calling a sopaipilla, which is a fried tortilla served with cinnamon, sugar, butter and honey on it. The waitress brought not only what we call a sopaipilla, but also a sample of what they call a sopaipllia, which is more like a rectangle of fried bread dough covered with powdered sugar served with honey on the side. We all shared the desserts and they were all yummy. The best part was they didn't even charge us for the desserts! We left an extra-big tip.
The next morning, Marilyn had a yummy breakfast casserole and hot biscuits for us that we enjoyed along with more good conversation. After breakfast, we said our "good-byes," hooked up the toad and hit the road. We continued on our way east.