This is the largest remaining wet meadow left along the Platte River and is owned and managed by the Whooping Crane Trust. 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. This was the first Platte Valley crane sanctuary to be established. More than 70,000 cranes have been seen foraging together on its pristine wet meadows and as many as 80,000 sandhill cranes roost along its river shorelines during peak usage. 223 bird species have been reported here. Good numbers of upland sandpipers, bobolinks, sedge wrens, dickcissels and grasshopper sparrows nest here from May till August. Prairie falcons, short-eared owls and northern harriers are seasonally common here. A large crane-observation blind (known as the Bunker) is operated here from the first week of March into April with an admission fee of $20. Reservations can be obtained by calling or visiting Crane Meadows Nature Center. Access is by permission only.
The “Crane Trust” was formed in 1978 as part of a court litigation settlement involving Greyrocks Dam in Wyoming. Their office/research facility and nature preserve are located on whooping Crane Drive, 2 miles south of the Alda Exit 305, and is only open by permission. The Trust owns and manages about 10,000 acres of habitat in the Platte River Valley. This facility is generally not open to the public except for special events. For information on the Whooping Crane Trust call 308-384-4633.