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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Wildcat Hills are an escarpment between the North Platte River and Pumpkin Creek in the western Nebraska Panhandle. Located in Banner, Morrill, and Scotts Bluff counties, the high tableland between the streams has been eroded by wind and water into a region of forested buttes, ridges and canyons that rise 150 to 300 m (500 to 1000 ft.) above the surrounding landscape.

Chimney Rock, Scotts Bluff, and Courthouse and Jail Rocks are outcrops along the northern and western edges of the Wildcat Hills.

Contents

Ecology

The plant and animal life in the Wildcat Hills is atypical for Nebraska; the ecology resembles that of the Laramie Mountains, 60 miles to the west. The dominant tree in the region is the ponderosa pine. Bighorn sheep, pronghorn, elk, mule deer, and wild turkeys live in and around the hills.

Cougars (mountain lion), which had been eradicated from the region around 1900, returned to the area in the early 1990s. The Wildcat Hills (along with the Pine Ridge), are the only areas in Nebraska with a permanent population.[1]

The deer and big horn sheep population has increased dramatically . The big horn sheep were transported here a few years ago. Rattlesnakes are common in the area, but the chance of a bite is rare if the right precautions are taken.

History

The Oregon and California Trails passed just to the north of the Wildcat Hills; the rock formations were frequently mentioned in emigrant journals and letters. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission acquired land for the Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area in stages between 1929 and 1980; the Wildcat Hills Nature Center, featuring a half-mile boardwalk trail, opened in 1995. Today, the Wildcat Hills are a popular hiking and wildlife viewing destination.

References

External links

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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Nebraska : Wildcat Hills

The Wildcat Hills are an escarpment of sandstone bluffs and buttes on the southern ridge of the North Platte River Valley in the Nebraska Panhandle. The bluffs run along the southern ridge for about 60 miles from the southwestern edge of Bridgeport to the Nebraska-Wyoming border.

  • Banner
  • Morrill
  • Scotts Bluff

Understand

The bluffs that cover the valley range in elevation from 4500 feet - 5200 feet. The summits of these bluffs are densely forested with pine trees. Wild animals such as mountain lions, deer, elk, and more run free in the forests.

Get in

There are a number of ways to reach the area. US Route 26 will drive past the scenic bluffs. The Kimball exit off I-80 takes you on State Route 71. The route winds through the mid-altitude bluffs. State Route 92 also spans the length of the valley below.

Get around

The easiest way to reach the Wildcat Hills is by driving. There is only one highway route through the bluffs, and that is State Route 71. All the other routes are gravel or dirt. Hiking is highly recommended in this area of scenic beauty.

  • Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area preserves the highest points in the Wildcat Hills. It also preserves some of the wildlife found in the area, and has some of the best recreational opportunities in the area.
  • Chimney Rock National Historic Site preserves a historical outbranch of the bluffs called Chimney Rock. The rock is about 325 feet above the valley floor. It was a very important stop along the Oregon, Mormon, and California Trails.
  • Scotts Bluff National Monument preserves huge outcrops of the Wildcat Hills near the town of Gering. The bluffs rise over 850 feet from the valley floor. The monument's local-famed Summit Road winds through three tunnels to the very summit of the bluff, giving some of the best panoramic and picturesque views in the area.
  • Hiking is what a large number of people do when in the area. The trails (most trails are in Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area) give hikers panoramic vistas of the valley. Chimney Rock and Scotts Bluff are sights spotted from many of these vistas.
  • Camping is also another great way to experience the area.

Stay safe

The area is known for some of the most brutal weather in the state. During the spring and summer, very severe thunderstorms and sometimes tornadoes are common in the area. During winter, dangerous blizzards pass the area frequently.

Steep slopes and cliffs can be dangerous for hikers. Stay on the trails and watch your step. Also, the prairie rattlesnake is common around the Wildcat Hills. Although an encounter with one of these is very rare, it can happen.


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