Location: 44450 Elm Island Road southwest of Gibbon

Iain Nicolson Center hours: Daily, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. through April 15

Contact information: 308-468-5282 or

Reservations are required unless otherwise noted: Call 308-468-5282 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily or book online at

Sandhill crane viewing

- Guided tours to river blinds — Daily at sunrise and sunset March 1-April 7, involving walks of ¼- to ½-mile in low light conditions before sunrise and sunset.

Start times are 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. March 1-9, and 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. March 10-April 7, $35 per person-per tour (no tripods or continuous mode photography)

- Photographers Crane Tour — March 15-April 7, 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., $75 per person-per tour (tripods and continuous mode photography allowed)

- Overnight photography blinds — Daily from March 15-April 6, starting at 4:45 p.m., overnight stay in the river blind until a staff person or volunteer returns the next morning, $250 per blind (two-person capacity)

- Indoor viewing — Reservations are required for both, with a limit of 15 participants.

General public — Daily from March 1 to April at the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center, 6 p.m., $20 per person.

New — Family Night Indoor Crane Viewing — March 6, 13, 20, 27 and April 3, 6 p.m., including kid-friendly activities, $10 per person; children 4 and younger free

Learning activities

- Crane Behavior Basics — March 1-9, 3:30 p.m., and March 10-April 7, 4:30 p.m., 45-minute class, $10 per person

- Habitat Tours — Hayrack rides with guides around Rowe Sanctuary, 1:30-3 p.m. Friday and Saturday from March 1 to April 7, $10 per person, space is limited

Other special events:

- Free speakers — See accompanying list

- Crane Carnival — 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 16 at Rowe Sanctuary, featuring fun and educational activities for all ages, $5 per person; $10 per family (no reservations required)

- “Follow the Water” — 7:30 p.m. March 22 at Kearney’s World Theatre, featuring photographer Michael Forsberg as speaker, free, but limited seating

- Crane Festival’s Wild Experience Room — 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 23 at Kearney Public Library, hosted by Audubon Nebraska, free

- Crane Cam — provides views of sandhill cranes and other wildlife in the Platte River from early March through mid-April

- Free Crane Breakfast — 7:30-10 a.m. March 23 at the Gibbon American Legion, hosted by the American Legion Riders. Donations will go to the Legacy Fund for scholarships


Location: 1020 V Road (Highway 50A) southeast of Kearney

Historical Park and Visitors Center: Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. March 2-April 7, admission $2 for adults, $1 for children

Features: Nebraska Game and Parks Commission staff will be available to answer questions about migration and good viewing hours, and have maps for self-guided tours. There is an 18-minute video about the migration.

Recreation Area and Hike-Bike Trail viewing: Best crane viewing is a half hour before sunrise and sunset from the old railroad bridge spanning the Platte River.

Features: The walk to the bridge is 300 yards and the full trail is 1.4 miles. There are opportunities for camping and other wildlife viewing.

Park permits: A valid state park permit is required at both areas and can be purchased at the visitors center. A season permit is $35; a daily permit is $6 per vehicle for Nebraska residents and $8 for non-residents.

Special event: 1-6 p.m. March 23, Dutch-oven cooking demonstration by chefs from across Nebraska at the recreation area’s main shelter. A free event, but a state park permit is required.

More information: Call 308-865-5305


Hours: March 2-April 7, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays

Location: 1007 Second Ave.

Other attractions: Information available on cranes, The Archway, Classic Car Collection, Museum of Nebraska Art and other Kearney area attractions.

More information:, 308-237-3178 or 800-652-9435


Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday

Location: 2401 Central Ave., Kearney

Featured exhibit: “A River Runs Through It,” Feb. 26-July 1, showcases artwork inspired by the Platte River — sounds and sights of the land, flora, fauna and sky — by such artists as Leoda Davis, Terry Evans, Michael Forsberg, Paul Johnsgard, Karen Kunc, Tom Mangelsen, Joel Sartore, Wendy Weiss and Jay Kreimer, and Worthington Whittredge.

More information: or 308-865-8559


Location: Nature and Visitor Center is at the Alda exit from Interstate 80

Hours: Now, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; March 1-31, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Crane season tours, reservations required:

- Group blind tours — Starting at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. March 1-9, and 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. March 10-31, involve a 10-minute walk over uneven terrain to the blind, $35 per person

- Footbridge evening tours — 6-8 p.m. March 15-31, with a migration presentation and walk to a private footbridge to watch cranes gather in a grassland prairie and fly to the river, $15 per person for ages 12 and older

- New private overnight dormitory and photo-viewing blinds — Starting at 4 p.m. March 1-6, 26-31, for up to eight people, $350 per person

- Photo workshops (five days-four nights) — March 10-14, 17-21, including classroom time and professional photographer help, $3,495 per person, call 308-833-3808

- Photo safaris (three days-two nights) — March 14-17, 24-26, geared toward more advanced photographers, $1,500 per person, call 308-833-3808

- VIP viewing — Groups of 8-20 (ages 18 and older) can stay in The Crane Trust’s Legacy Cottages on the prairie where bison graze and take a guided private tour to a heated river blind. Contact

Wild About Nebraska Speaker Series (Nature and Visitor Center):

March 2 and 3 — “Follow the Water” documentary, 2 p.m.

March 9 — Crane Trust presentations: 1 p.m., whooping cranes, Andy Caven; 2 p.m., global change and migratory birds on the Platte, Nicole Arcilla; and 3 p.m., Crane Trust bison, Tim Smith

March 10 — “Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery’s Raptors of Nebraska” by Blake Hatfied, with live raptors, 1-4 p.m., with 3 p.m. presentation

March 16 — Children’s book authors, “John’s Purpose” by Jeff Kurrus, 10 a.m.; “What’s Going Down in Prairie Dog Town” by Alan Bartels, 11 a.m.; “Choose Your Days: What’s On Your List?” by Paula Wallace, 1 p.m.; and “A Watershed in Motion” by Platte Basin Timelapse participants, 3 p.m.

March 17 — “Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery’s Raptors of Nebraska” by Blake Hatfied, with live raptors, 1-4 p.m., with 3 p.m. presentation

March 21 — “Crane Updates” by International Crane Foundation co-founder George Archibald, 3 p.m.

March 23 and 24 — Art show and sale, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, with artists reception from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday

March 25 — “The Life History, Behavior and Distribution of Sandhill and Whooping Cranes” by Paul Johnsgard, 2 p.m.

March 30 — Presentations by Master Naturalists on habitat restoration and pollinator work, 1 p.m.; tiger salamanders in Nebraska, 2 p.m.; and the Nebraska Master Naturalist Program 3 p.m.

More information:, 308-382-1820


Central Platte Natural Resources District’s viewing decks: 1.5 miles south of the Interstate 80 exit at Gibbon (285) and 2 miles south of the I-80 exit at Alda (305)

Map: Central Platte wildlife viewing,


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service headquarters: 73746 V Road north of Funk

More information: Call 308-263-3000 or learn about Rainwater Basin Waterfowl Production Areas at


Location: Republican City and Alma

Harlan White Pelican Watch:

Dates — March 1-April 15, American White Pelicans usually are visible from shorelines and marinas

Best viewing — Methodist Cove Campground 2.5 miles east and slightly south of Alma off Corps Road B; North Shore Marina and Gremlin Cove south of Republican City; and Patterson Harbor south of Harlan County Dam

Bald eagle viewing (through February) — Above sites, plus the North and South Outlet Campgrounds east of the dam, and the River’s Edge Nature Trail at the far east end of the North Outlet area

Special events:

March 16 — Polar Plunge, contact Patterson Harbor Marina for details at 308-799-4600

April 12 — Spring Fling hosted by the Alma Chamber of Commerce, featuring late hours for businesses and special events provided by area non-profit organizations, including wagon rides, music and a spaghetti feed; Alma Chamber 308-928-2992.

More information: Harlan County Tourism Office, 308-928-8992 or, and/or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers visitor center north of the dam, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays, 308-799-2105.

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