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The United States has some incredible natural wonders and jaw-dropping landscapes that make for excellent travel destinations. If you’re looking to plan a trip with a bit of educational and historical relevancy, why not visit some of the amazing travel destinations along the Oregon Trail? Thankfully, you can travel in the comfort of your vehicle instead of a covered wagon.
Easily one of the most recognized landmarks of the Oregon Trail, Nebraska’s Chimney Rock used to be one of the first major stopping points for pioneers heading west. Wind and erosion shaped this unique rock into its current shape and seemingly continue to do so. Early photographs and sketches of Chimney Rock provide evidence that it used to be taller, though it’s still very impressive at about 300 feet.
Courthouse and Jail Rocks
Not too far away from Chimney Rock is another fascinating geological feature from Nebraska (road trip to Nebraska, anyone?) called the Courthouse and Jail Rocks. From a distance, the two rocks seem like the ruins of an old castle, and, in fact, Castle was one of their earlier names. One of the most interesting features of the landmark is the clear geological layers that you can see as you approach.
The last of the major rock formations along Nebraska’s portion of the trail is Scott’s Bluff, a collection of five incredible geological formations that look like the ruins of a town of giants. Eagle Rock, the most famous of the five, resembles one of those soap bars that look like a slice of cake. Young geologists are certain to love this site.
Crossing over into Wyoming, pioneers would attempt to reach Independence Rock by July 4 (hence the name) to avoid traveling across the mountains in winter. Unlike the rock formations in Nebraska, Independence Rock is a smooth, dome-like structure similar to Enchanted Rock in Texas. At only 130 feet above the ground, Independence Rock is a much easier climb than some other structures on this list.
Three Island Crossing
One of the coolest travel destinations along the Oregon Trail is Three Island Crossing, which marked the final leg of the journey west for pioneers. Pioneers had to choose between fording the dangerous Snake River or traveling south through a hot and dusty climate to Three Island Crossing, which was much safer. Today, the Snake River is a beautiful location for fishing and other outdoor activities, so don’t let its old reputation scare you away!
If you’re looking for an exciting road trip through American history or just looking for an excuse to enjoy some time outdoors, consider checking out one of these awesome spots along the Oregon Trail.