Start your trip in the far northwest corner of the state, just south of Ardmore, South Dakota, where Nebraska route 2 and Dakota route 71 merge. Then, simply follow Nebraska route 2 east-southeast as it travels across much of the state of Nebraska. It will take you through towns such as Crawford, Alliance, Thedford, and finally end in Grand Island, NE.
What better scenery can you find in the Great Plains that that of the breathtaking Sandhills of Central/Western Nebraska? This is a prime route for all easterners headed down I-80 to take to Sturgis in the summer. What was prehistorically a Sand dune desert a la the Sahara, the sandhills are now covered in a thin layer of grass, which has held the once always moving dunes in place for thousands of years. Nebraska has more river mileage than any other state, and its obvious in the sandhills, which is the largest wetlands ecosystem in the United States. Since the soil is so sandy, agriculture outside of ranching is not commonplace, so the sandhills appear largely untouched by human hands. A trip through in late spring early summer is ideal when the rains have brought the landscape to a beautiful shade of green from their normal sandy brown hue. Sunset in the Sandhills is one the most beautiful things you'll ever see. If you haven't yet, you will find your soul on this road.
This trip takes you from the sandhill grasslands in the northwest corner of the state across the prairie going east. This is wide open country with slight hills and the Nebraska National Forest about mid trip. Nebraska Rt. 2, the Conestoga Scenic Byway, starts in the northwest corner of the state (in the Ogalala National Grasslands) where it junctions with S. Dakota Rt.71 (Buffalo Gap National Grassland). This is wide open country just south of the Black Hills in S. Dakota. As you travel you see the same scenery the early pioneers saw traveling by Conestoga wagon (prairie schooners). Alliance, Nebraska, is the first sizable town you'll come to. It was settled in the 1800s by German immigrants whose ancestors still live and work there. This two-lane road offers easy riding and huge vistas. Occasionally, you'll see trains traveling along the railroad which parallels Rt.2. We're talking long, long trains. About midway through this near 360 mile trip you'll come to the town of Broken Bow. The town is a major cattle shipping area and when the wind is right you know it. As the locals say: "That's the smell of money!" Leaving Broken Bow you continue until Rt.2 ends in Grand Island and civilization.
The further west you go, the better it gets! Highway 2 moves with the natural landscape of the sandhills so well, giving the rider lots of long banked turns, hills and descents, and just enough straight road for you to gawk around for a few minutes before the road swings around another turn.
This is a great route for folks leaving Sturgis and heading to the Southeast. Dropping straight south from Sturgis thru the Black Hills you pick up Nebraska Rt.2 off of Rt. 71 in southwestern S. Dakota. Traveling across Nebraska northwest to southeast you follow the route the Conestoga wagons traveled as they headed west to Utah, Idaho and Oregon. This is all two lane road with little traffic.
You don't need any amenities! You're riding cross country on a motorcycle! Man up! Set up your tent at Halsey State Park, in the nations largest hand planted forest! How cool is that right? Stay up late in mid summer and enjoy one of the best stargazing spots in the world. with no sources of light pollution, you'll be amazed to see that the milky way can shine bright enough to cast a shadow at night! EPIC! If you do need a motel, Broken Bow, on the eastern end of the Sandhills is your best bet, Thedford in the middle. The are only a few other towns with a gas pump out there, so plan accordingly! Or don't and make it a real adventure!
There are a few small towns along Rt.2. In the northwest section Alliance is the largest town. Settle by German immigrants the town still displays its roots at various restaurants. Further to the east the town of Broken Bow has a good 1880's era hotel (remodeled in 2005) with a great bar and restaurant.
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This really is a great ride across Nebraska. We rode from south to north heading to Sturgis a few years ago. This road has great scenery and very friendly people all along the way. Top off your tank every chance you can though. We were given bad info at the hotel and ended up having to buy gas at a 200% mark up from a guy. If ya get the chance it's a great road to ride down!
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10 riders found this road review useful
May 14, 2010
0 McR Points
Motorcycle Type : Cruiser
It's a great trip through some beautiful country. Don't pass the fuel stops as they can be few and far between. If you are heading to Sturgis or the Black Hills,, there isn't a better route through Nebraska. Traveling at dawn or dusk, keep an eye out for deer.
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8 riders found this road review useful
January 18, 2015
14 McR Points
Motorcycle Type : Touring
I took this route June 2014 on my way home from Yellowstone and the Black hills. It was one of the best rides on the trip. Nice sweeping curves, although a few hidden descending curves that wake you right up. I believe there was a stretch of 25 miles where I didn't pass a single vehicle in either direction.
The scenery is unusual interesting. Sandhills is a good name for the ride.
Gas is available but don't pass up a station, they are quite a distance apart. Not all the stations carry premium, so you may have to go another 50 miles to get some.
Ellsworth, NE, at the corner of Hwy 2 and 27, make sure to stop. leather galore, from coats to saddles, wallets and hats, and great hospitality to boot!
From Alliance to Grand Island. Sped up 50x. YES, to 50x. This road is that boring. Perfect place if you want to find out what your Kawasaki H2 can really do. This is the first road that has made me BEG for a higher CC engine... Like a 6 liter!