Rocky Mountain Region Viewing Area
LOCATION and PHOTOS
Prairie coneflower and verbena along the road to The Cliffs. Photo by Sarlyn Morse, U.S. Forest Service.
Prairie flowers amidst parkland prairie. Photo by Sarlyn Morse, U.S. Forest Service.
Roadside view with ponderosa pine forest. Photo by Sarlyn Morse, U.S. Forest Service.
Pine Ridge Ranger District
Forest or Grassland: Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands
District: Pine Ridge Ranger District
Description: The Pine Ridge dominates this area, which is an escarpment of sandstone bluffs. Extensive forests of ponderosa pine, open mixed-grass parklands, woody draws, steep canyons, and perennial streams characterizes this area. A wide variety of wildflowers grows in these varied habitats. These include several species of milkvetch (Astragalus spp.), sunflowers (Helianthus spp.), golden pea (Thermopsis rhombifolia), star lily (Leucocrinum montanum), Hood’s phlox (Phlox hoodii), beardtongue (Penstemon spp.), heath aster (Aster ericoides), gayfeather (Liatris spp.), pricklypear (Opuntia spp.), and scurfpea (Psoralea spp.).
Viewing Information: Stop at the district office in Chadron to pick up a map of the Pine Ridge, get directions, and learn about any hazards or seasonal wildflower viewing opportunities. An easily accessible drive will allow you to see a great variety of wildflowers as well as a sampling of the beauty of the Pine Ridge. It will take you along parkland, ponderosa pine forests, streamsides, and impressive cliffs. All along the road, depending on the season and amount of precipitation, you might see vervain (Verbena stricta), species of sunflowers (Helianthus spp.), prairie coneflower (Ratibida columnifera), purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia), primrose (Oenothera spp.), pricklypoppy (Argemone polyanthemos), and goldenrods (Solidago spp.).
Safety First: Roads on the Pine Ridge District vary from gravel roads to four-wheel drive roads. Most of the roads are passable except after a rain or a snowstorm. Be aware of the occasional rattlesnake if you are hiking.
Directions: Drive south from Chadron, northeast along US highway 385 for about 11 miles. Turn left onto Forest Service Road 717. After about 1 ½ miles, turn left onto Forest Service Road 718. After a little less than 2 miles, turn right onto Forest Service Road 723. This will take you to a picnic area called The Cliffs. This area has a picnic table and a vault toilet. Bordeaux Creek runs through this beautiful valley. If you have time, hike up this valley along the creek. Proceed past The Cliffs until the Forest Service Road ends at Bordeaux Road. Turn left and follow this road about 7 miles until it ends at US highway 20. Turn left and return to Chadron.
Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Pine Ridge Ranger District (308) 432-0300.
Closest Town: Chadron, Nebraska.
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