Chimney Rock was designated a National Historic Site on August 9, 1956, and is maintained and operated by the Nebraska State Historical Society. Located in the valley of the North Platte River, this landmark has been remarked upon by people for centuries. Chimney Rock is known as the most famous landmark on the Oregon-California Trail, but it had made an impression on earlier residents of the area as well. According to early fur traders, Native Americans named the rock "Elk Penis" after the penis of the adult male elk. This made more sense to those who had lived for centuries on the plains than comparing the rock to a feature from a white man's building. Prim and proper usage among Anglo-Americans, though, overwhelmingly preferred the more delicate name "chimney."
The county and city take their name from our most recognizable and important local feature, the large bluffs along the North Platte River. Named for trapper Hiram Scott who died at their base in 1828, they border the route of the historic Oregon Trail and are now a National Monument. Here you can drive to the top of the bluffs on Summit Road, hike the North Overlook Trail and take in the view of the North Platte Valley or pedal your way past Sentinel Rock and Mitchell Pass on the bike path. The National Monument is also home to the Oregon Trail Museum and Visitor Center which features exhibits on Westward Expansion and the premier collection of paintings, sketches and photographs by William Henry Jackson.
You can check out the Riverside Zoo or delve even further into natural history at the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. Monument Valley Pathways offer excellent hiking and biking between Scottsbluff, our twin city Gering and the Scottsbluff National Monument. Buffalo Creek Wildlife Management Area also has opportunities for hiking and bird watching. You can try horseback riding at Cedar Canyon Wildlife Management Areaor camping, fishing and water sports at Lake Minatare State Park.