Year-round activities and events are on the calendar for visitor centers and organizations. Rowe Sanctuary offers a variety of educational programs for adults, children and families throughout the year including First Sundays which offers activities and nature exploration for the whole family the first Sunday of every month at the Audubon center, just outside of Gibbon (Rowe Educational Programs). The Fort Kearney Hike/Bike Trail is open for public crane viewing in the spring and is also popular in the winter months for cross-country skiers.
Each spring, approximately 500,000 Sandhill Cranes, an estimated 90 percent of the world’s population, travel through Nebraska during their spring migration from late February to early April. They are accompanied by hundreds of thousands of other birds, including the endangered whooping crane, all gathering along the Platte River. There are tours available to explore and observe these large concentrations of wildlife. If you are interested in crane viewing, March through early April is the peak of the migration and is when tours are given. You can sign up for Crane Alert to be notified when the cranes arrive in the spring at Nebraskaflyway.com. If you aren’t able make your way to the Platte area, you can still enjoy the sights and sounds from the comfort of your own home with the Crane Cam, a live video streamed straight to your computer. Fall migration for the Sandhill Cranes is from late September through mid-December with late October and early November being the peak. However, the fall migration usually consists of only a night’s stay for the birds, as they are trying to get south for the winter. Out of the spring crane season, there are still great opportunities to enjoy a wide variety of birds and other wildlife.
The Sandhill Crane migration through the Platte River Valley is considered to be the #1 birding opportunity in the world. It attracts locals and international travelers alike. If you would like to schedule a tour or find more information, see the links of interest below.
Audubon’s Nebraska Crane Festival
CNPPID Eagle Viewing Opportunities
Crane Trust Nature & Visitors Center
Nebraska Game & Parks Commission Spring Migration Guide
Platte Basin Timelapse Project
PRRIP Elm Creek Complex Timelapse
PRRIP Plum Creek Complex Timelapse