National Parks Traveler| Walking The Oregon Trail At Scotts Bluff

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The Oregon Trail stretched roughly 2,170 miles from Missouri to Oregon’s Willamette Valley. It rambled across prairie, sagebrush desert and mountains. From the 1840s into the 1880s, hundreds of thousands of immigrants made the challenging journey, and not all survived. Today more than 120 historic sites, auto tour routes, and markers show us where the Oregon Trail traveled.

One of the choke points, if you will, is in western Nebraska at a place preserved today as Scotts Bluff National Monument. Here the Oregon Trail runs across Mitchell Pass, a low spot squeezed by buff-colored bluffs that tower to the north and the south. Today a state highway runs through the pass, but back in the mid-1800s, it was a narrow wagon trail that Conestoga wagons and covered wagons followed.

Traveler Editor Kurt Repanshek recently visited the monument and walked part of the trail with Ranger Eric Grunwald.

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