Monday, May 9
Woke in Scottsbluff at Riverside CG, a very nice city park along the North Platte. The sun was shining and it looked like a good day. We've noticed high water all along the North Platte as we've followed it east, the result of strong snow melt and some heavy rains higher in the hills. But here in Scottsbluff, the water is so high, and rising, that it's predicted to go into flood stage any day now. In all likelihood, Riverside CG will be closed in a day or two until the river subsides.
Just across the river to the south is Scotts Bluff National Monument. Serving as a landmark for thousands of years for early Americans, and then for emigrants as they walked to new lives in the West, this series of tall sandstone bluffs dominates the surrounding flat land. Mitchell Pass on the Old Oregon Trail runs directly between Scotts Bluff to the north and South Bluff to the south. A trail follows this historic route through the pass. It's possible for smaller vehicles to drive to the top of Scotts Bluff, which we certainly did, for hiking and great views of the surrounding prairie.
Another similar stop is a few miles to the east at the historic Chimney Rock... another emigrant landmark. We didn't hike out to the rock itself as it's on private property, but we did stop at the closest point to it for a quick picnic lunch. Another sandstone bluff of note in the area is Courthouse Rock.
Not far down the North Platte from Scottsbluff is Ogallala. Nearby McConaughy Lake, a reservoir just north of town, features a series of campgrounds that we found agreeable. We set up camp at Little Thunder Bay, site 27, for the night. Weather was still a tad threatening, but it looked like it'd hold for the night. Until a late day straggler came in toward evening, we were the only ones here.