1) Each June North Platte celebrates the West at the annual NebraskaLand Days (888-313-5606, nebraskalanddays.com), featuring the Buffalo Bill Rodeo, which started in 1882. Tour the showman’s home at The Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (308-535-8035), and visit Fort Cody Trading Post (308-532-8081, fortcody.com), a fun roadside museum and mercantile. See the world’s largest train yard, the Bailey Railroad Yard and Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center (308-532-9920, goldenspiketower.com), then enjoy the rib-eye and hospitality at the Canteen Bar & Grille (308-535-6168).
2) Nebraska’s “Cowboy Capital,” Ogallala, sits along the South Platte River at the crossroads of the Oregon Trail, the Texas Trail, and the Union Pacific Railroad. Enjoy the 1880s-style Front Street and Cowboy Museum (308-284-6000, ogallalafrontstreet.com) for a trip back into the town’s Wild West past, including a saloon, steakhouse, and The Crystal Palace Revue and Shoot Out. Don’t miss Boot Hill, where many a Texas cowpoke ended his trail.
3) North on Highway 61 towards Arthur is the renowned Haythorn Land & Cattle Co. (308-355-4000, haythorn.com), a 5th-generation Quarter Horse and cattle ranch. Visit the gift store, the smoked meats shop, and convention center with chuckwagon dinners for groups of 25 or more. Twenty miles north in Arthur, stop at the Bunkhouse Bar & Grill (308-764-2601) for a good hamburger. While on Main Street, visit the Arthur Courthouse Museum (308-764-2367)—the world’s smallest—and the unique 1928 Strawbale Church.
4) Enjoy the remote beauty of Nebraska’s Sandhills between Arthur and Alliance via Hyannis, on Highway 2, the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway. Stop in Hyannis and enjoy a quaint evening and homestyle meals in the century old home at the bed and breakfast, Whisperin Angel Inn
(308-458-2300). In Alliance, visit the Knight Museum and Sandhills Center’s (308-762-2384, knightmuseum.com), exhibitions on the history of western Nebraska. Alliance’s Homestead Diner (308-762-1632) serves a hearty breakfast and lunch and is open for dinner on Friday and Saturday.
5) Finish your western Nebraska adventure in Crawford at the nearby Fort Robinson State Park (308-665-2900), where longhorns and bison roam and Western history is alive.