You’d expect to find wildlife in the rugged country around Scottsbluff. You wouldn’t expect exotic species such as chimpanzees, otters, tigers, lions or varieties of tropical birds. You’ll find them at Riverside Zoo, which is home to more than 200 animals representing more than 70 species.
The animals live in simulated natural habitats, and include endangered or rare species such as the red pandas, Bengal tigers and several primate species native to South America. Special exhibits include the Moose Woods, Lion/Tiger Complex, Chimpanzee Conservation Center and a walk-through aviary. When visiting in the summer, bring suits and flip-flops to enjoy the Splash-pad, a zero-depth water feature that sprays water.
The 23-acre zoo is on South Beltline Highway, half a mile west of Highway 71. (308) 630-6236 Riverside Campground, open May through September, is nearby. (308) 630-6238
The Westmoor Pool is another family-friendly attraction in Scottsbluff. The pool, located at Avenue I and West 20th Street, is open in the summer and includes water slides, water cannons and a lazy river. (308) 632-8881
The West Nebraska Arts Center, located in the historic Carnegie Library at 106 E. 16th St., is a hub of activity for painting, sculpture, artists-in-residence and the performing arts (308) 632-2226. Affiliated programs are Theatre West, a summer theater company, and the historic Midwest Theater, a grand, old movie palace of yesteryear in downtown Scottsbluff. (308) 632-4311
Running alongside the North Platte River and Scotts Bluff National Monument, walking and biking trails connect the cities of Scottsbluff, Gering and Terrytown. Monument Valley Pathways includes 6.3 miles of trails; a total of 26 miles is planned.
In 1902, surveyors for the Burlington Railroad discovered an old wagon tire inscribed with the name of Rebecca Winters and the year 1852. The iron tire, they learned, marked the grave of a Mormon pioneer who died of cholera along the trail. The wagon tire is part of the monument that tells her story. The Rebecca Winters Grave is alongside Highway 26, 1 1/2 miles east of Scottsbluff.
In Western Nebraska, the human population is sparse and people value wide-open spaces. Scottsbluff, with nearly 15,000 residents, is the Panhandle’s largest city. Combined with sister city Gering (pop. 10,500) and with Terrytown (pop. 650) sandwiched between, the Scottsbluff/Gering metro area is the largest population center in Western Nebraska.
For more information about Scottsbluff, contact the Scottsbluff/Gering United Chamber of Commerce at (308) 632-2133 or visit www.visitscottsbluff.com.