Central Platte Valley

Stretching north and south along Interstate 80 from York to Ogallala Nebraska the Central Platte Valley ecoregion is home to array of landscapes including wetlands, sedge meadows, native grasslands and prairies, sandpit lakes, woodlands and bottomland timber, grassy uplands and several areas found on private lands allowing for diverse viewing opportunities. The area offers over 65 identified viewing areas which include state parks, public viewing areas, wildlife management areas, parks, prairies and smaller miscellaneous usage spots. This ecoregion also offers handicap crane viewing areas at the Alda Bridge near Alda and Grand Island.

South of the Platte River in the southeastern part of the ecoregion is the Rainwater Basin which encompasses a 4,200 square mile region of shallow lakes, marshes and other wetlands. Rainwater Basin wetlands are highly dynamic and dependent on precipitation run-off but serve as one of the most important wetland complexes in the Midcontinent of North America for migratory birds.

The Platte River is a major river in the state of Nebraska and is about 310 miles long. Measured to its farthest source via its tributary the North Platte River, it flows for over 1,050 miles. The Platte over most of its length is a muddy, broad, shallow, meandering stream with a swampy bottom and many islands.

Title Category Address Description
Alda Bridge Crane Viewing Site 40.773, -98.494 This handicap-accessible viewing platform provides an excellent view of cranes and waterfowl roosting on both sides of the Platte's Alda Bridge at sunrise and sunset.
Audubon: Lillian Annette Rowe Sanctuary & Iain Nicholson Audubon Center 40.671, -98.888 The sanctuary headquarters provides information and sells books and other bird-related materials.
Bader Memorial Park 40.99, -98.151 A stretch of Platte River wooded habitats and adjacent native prairie, with trails through all of the local habitat types.
Bassway Strip Wildlife Management Area 40.687, -98.926 Four ponds and 7 miles of river frontage. Includes 90 acres of lakes and sandpits; mostly wooded.
Birdwood Lake Wildlife Management Area 41.116, -100.834 Area 20 acres, upland, and 13 acre lake.
Bittern's Call Wildlife Management Area 40.841, -99.846 Consists of 80 acres of mixed upland and wetland habitat.
Blue Hole Wildlife Management Area 40.686, -99.381 Area 539 acres, plus 30-acre pond and two miles of river frontage. Mostly riparian wooded habitats.
Box Elder Canyon Wildlife Management Area 41.025, -100.572 This 20-acre site consists of native grasslands and deciduous wooded habitats along the Tri-County Supply Canal.
Cameron Cemetery 40.904, -98.65 This country cemetery is surrounded by large evergreens and mature hardwoods.
Cornhusker Wildlife Management Area 40.928, -98.472 Habitat includes extensive shelterbelt and cover plantings as well as wildlife food plots.
Cottonmill Lake Public Use Area 40.711, -99.149 A hike-bike trail extends six miles from this area to the outskirts of Kearney.
Cozad Wildlife Management Area 40.837, -99.981 Area 182 acres of upland, 16 acres wetland, 0.5 mile of river frontage.
Crystal Lake State Recreational Area 40.456, -98.439 Free Camping and primitive facilities. Picnic shelters and electrical hookups are available.
Darr Strip Wildlife Management Area 40.811, -99.905 Area 976 acres, with 2.5 miles of river frontage.
Dogwood Wildlife Management Area 40.698, -99.625 Area 402 acres with 10-acre lake, 1.5 miles of river frontage.
Eagle Scout Park 40.959, -98.362 Eagle Scout Park has an 80 acre lake surrounded by a 1.2 mile paved hiking trail.
East Cozad Wildlife Management Area 40.831, -99.956 Area 18 acres, all upland.
East Hershey Wildlife Management Area 41.126, -100.898 Drive east on road, that parallels I-80.
East Odessa Wildlife Management Area 40.669, -99.166 Area 71 acreas, and a seven acre pond.
East Sutherland Wildlife Management Area 41.141, -101.055 Areas 35 acres.
East Willow Island Wildlife Management Area 40.863, -100.036 Area 37 acres.
Elm Creek Wildlife Management Area 40.123, -98.446 Area 120 acres. Located three miles south of Cowles in Webster County. Mostly wooded, with a creek and slough at one end.
Gallagher Canyon State Recreation Area 40.735, -99.981 Area 400-acre reservoir, 24 acres upland. One of canyons in the loess hills, and an associated reservoir. Park entry permit required.
Gibbon Bridge Crane Viewing Platform 40.681, -98.848 The decks provide a safe area to view cranes and other wildlife on the Platte River.
Greenwood Cemetery 40.869, -97.608 Located on the outskirts of York in York County, it consistently produces good songbirds in the summer and a variety of northern species such as purple finches and red-breasted nuthatches in the winter.
Griess Waterfowl Production Area 40.584, -97.776 Habitat includes 20 acres of wetlands and 20 acres of uplands. No trees and considerable use by snow geese.
Griffith Prairie and Farm 41.01, -98.072 Griffith Prairie is a scenic, hilly prairie situated in the bluffs along the Platte River.
Hall County Park 40.875, -98.372 This county park allows free entry and offers wooded trails for birding along with camping facilities.
Hannon Waterfowl Production Area 40.752, -98.697 Habitat includes wet meadows and surrounding grassy uplands with 105 acres of water.
Harold W. Andersen Wildlife Management Area 41.144, -98.504 Consists of about 12 miles of Loup River frontage, with bottomland timber and a marshy oxbow. There are primitive trails through the woods to the Loup River.
Heron Waterfowl Production Area 40.976, -97.765 Located in York County including 215 acres of wetland and 105 acres of upland.
Hershey Wildlife Management Area 41.135, -100.988 Area 133 acres. From Hershey exit, located 0.2 mile south, 0.2 mile east.
Jeffrey Canyon Wildlife Management Area 40.952, -100.399 Area 900-acre reservoir, 35 acres upland.
Johnson Lake State Recreational Area 40.687, -99.838 Habitat includes a 2,000 acre reservoir and 68 acres of upland.
Lilley's Sand and Gravel 40.746, -98.565 Lilley's includes about 20 sandpit lakes surrounded by tall cottonwoods along the Platte River.
Linder Waterfowl Production Area 40.541, -99.534 Area 160 acres. Located in Phelps County, 1 mile north and 5 miles east of Bertrand.
Loch Linda Wildlife Management Area 40.815, -98.427 This is a 29 acre wet cattail marsh surrounded by 9 acres of pastureland and mature riparian forest adjoining the Platte River.
Maloney Reservoir State Recreation Area 41.046, -100.786 1,600-acre reservoir, and 1,732 acres of upland.
Marie Ratzlaff Prairie 40.735, -97.882 This site has 30 acres of tallgrass prairie and a 10 acre prairie restoration which was planted in 2001.
Martin's Reach Wildlife Management Area 40.736, -98.64 Includes 80 heavily wooded acres and 10 acres of pastureland with about 0.7 of a mile of river frontage on the Platte's main channel.
Midway Lake Wildlife Management Area 40.801, -100.08 A reservoir near the Tri-County Canal. At its upper (southern) end is Midway Canyon, an eroded area of loess hills.
Mormon Island Crane Meadows 40.807, -98.386 This 2,500 acre preserve contains an extensive area of sedge meadows along with native tall grass prairie surrounded by channels of the Platte River.
Mormon Island State Recreational Area 40.824, -98.37 Habitat includes 3 lakes and their surrounding riparian woodlands.
Muskrat Run Wildlife Management Area 41.197, -100.895 Area 224 acres.
Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center 40.796, -98.491 The Center's grounds include 247 acres of tallgrass prairie and riparian woodland habitat bordering the Platte River which contains nearly 7 miles of hiking trails and a foot-bridge that crosses the Platte River.
Nelson Waterfowl Production Area 40.759, -97.937 Habitat includes 143 acres of wetland and 17 acres of upland.
North Platte Sewage Lagoons 41.112, -100.71 These lagoons attract many water birds during migration. There are several wetlands to the north of North Platte that support typical Sandhills marsh birds and waterfowl.
North River Wildlife Management Area 41.202, -100.984 Area 681 acres, 2 miles of river frontage. There are woods along the river, and grassland beyond that is used by sandhill cranes.
Oxbow Trail Reservoir Recreational Area 41.078, -97.174 Swimming, camping, hiking, restrooms, handicap facilities, and parking are available at the site. Opened in December of 1998, the spring-fed Oxbow Trail Reservoir continues to develop.
Platte Wildlife Management Area 41.098, -100.652 Area 242 Acres.
Plum Creek Wildlife Management Area 40.696, -99.912 Area is 152 acres.
Prairie Lake Public Use Area 40.536, -98.486 Prairie Lake has a 36 acre lake with 124 acres of surrounding upland habitat.
Prairie Wolf Wildlife Management Area 41.416, -97.741 Area 314 acres. Mainly bottomlands along the Loup River, with some open grasslands and marshes.
Ravenna Lake State Recreation Area 41.024, -98.893 Area 53 acres. Situated along the South Loup River, with a small reservoir. State park entry permit required.
Recharge Lake Recreational Area 40.87, -97.628 Recharge Lake recreation area contains a 50 acre reservoir. Developed for fishing, there are also hiking trails.
Redtail Lake Wildlife Management Area 41.09, -97 Habitat includes a 26-acre lake with 320 acres of upland.
Renquist Wildlife Management Area 41.029, -97.699 This site consists of 90 acres of marshland, 10 acres of upland pasture, and 7 acres of cropland.
Sandy Channel State Recreation Area 40.668, -99.375 Area 133 acres. Contains 11 small lakes (old sand pits) and ponds, totaling 47 acres. Good for open-wooded habitats birds and water birds. State park entry permit required.
Shoemaker Island Road 40.771, -98.532 The entire area is privately owned, so birding away from the road requires landowner permission. Cattle egrets, black-billed magpies and eastern bluebirds are common here.
Sunny Hollow Wildlife Management Area 41.377, -97.738 Area 160 acres. Mostly grassy uplands, with two marshes and a dugout wetland.
Taylor Ranch 41.006, -98.468 Taylor Ranch is a privately owned 7000 acre ranch with extensive Sandhills prairie and numerous small wetlands that are attractive to migrating ducks and shorebirds during wet years.
Union Pacific State Recreation Area 40.678, -99.253 26 acres and a 15 acre pond. State park permit required. 2 miles south of Odessa on Highway L10B.
War Axe State Recreation Area 40.724, -98.734 Area nine acres. Plus a 12-acre pond. State park permit required.
Wellfleet Wildlife Management Area 40.759, -100.749 Comprising only 65 acres along Medicine Creek, it provides a diversity of habitats that usually attracts a wide variety of small passerines and water birds.
West Brady Wildlife Management Area 41.017, -100.417 Area 16 acres. Leave interstate at I-80 exit 199. North 1 mile, west 2 miles, cross over the interstate to the southside.
Willow Island Wildlife Management Area 40.876, -100.065 45 acres upland, 35 acre lake, and riparian woodland. 4 miles northwest of Cozad on State Highway 30 and 1 mile south.
Windmill State Recreation Area 40.707, -98.839 Area 168 acres, with 5 ponds. State park entry permit required. Located at I-80 exit 285.
Wood River West Wildlife Management Area 40.755, -98.611 Site includes a 23 acre lake and surrounding riparian area.