Walk to the Rock – A Hiking Trail at Chimney Rock

Located on the south edge of the North Platte River Valley, four miles from Bayard, Nebraska, Chimney Rock is a sandstone spire rising from a base of sandstone and siltstone, extending 350 feet from the base to the top.

Chimney Rock was a key stop on the Oregon Trail, and its iconic shape is found on everything from company logos to Nebraska’s state quarter.  Walk to the Rock will both enhance patrons’ experience of visiting Chimney Rock as a National Historic Site and allow the preservation of native habitat in a key area of the North Platte River Valley. Finally, it will ensure that this landscape is preserved for future generations. This is an historic moment for Chimney Rock, and is rare opportunity to protect this remarkable resource while providing a recreational and educational component for all.

History
This 360-acre area supports a diversity of native grass and forb species and fauna including raptors, swift foxes, prairie rattlesnakes, and prairie dogs. From the early 1840s to the late 1860s, over half a million people travelled over the Oregon, California, or Mormon Trails past Chimney Rock; this movement of people was the largest voluntary human migration in history. Pioneers wrote more about Chimney Rock than any other place on the trails. The Pony Express, the telegraph, and the railroads followed the same Platte River Valley route across Nebraska.

In 1941, 80 acres including Chimney Rock were given to the State of Nebraska for preservation and managed by the Nebraska State Historical Society (now called History Nebraska). In 1956, the site was designated a National Historic Landmark. In 1996, the Abbott Visitor Center opened on the site, which interprets the geographic, environmental, and cultural significance of the site for over 40,000 visitors annually.

In early 2020, the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation (NSHSF) completed a $1.8 million campaign to fund HN’s renovation of the Ethel S. and Christopher J. Abbott Visitor Center at Chimney Rock.  This is the most recent in a series of significant achievements for our organization that has created energy and positive publicity.   

The opportunity to purchase the ground for Walk To The Rock occurred during the middle of the Abbott Visitor Center Campaign.  It was almost immediately funded fully by two major gifts: one half received from a Lincoln-based private foundation, the other half coming from a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.   The ease by which these funds were attracted is a testimony to the statewide-and-beyond-interest in preserving and protecting the Chimney Rock view shed, and it demonstrates the value that this monument holds in the hearts of so many. 

Several business and philanthropic leaders have conveyed interest in the development of a hiking trail to connect the Abbott Visitors Center to a point near the base of the Rock itself.  This opportunity is made possible by the timely purchase, in 2019, of the approximately 360 acres in between the Abbott Center and Chimney Rock for $400,000.

You can now be a part of this exciting project by donating at one of the levels shown below.  All donors over $1,000 will be invited to a private dedication of the Trail in 2023. 

Donate to WALK TO THE ROCK Today!

Gifts of all amounts are welcomed and appreciated. We have several giving levels, and each includes special benefits as a thank-you for your donation:

To donate to Walk to the Rock via check, please make your check payable to the NSHS Foundation and mail to:

P.O. Box 5703

Lincoln, NE  68505