Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center

Plate River aerial near Crane Meadows – Photo by Paul Johnsgard
Crane Meadows Nature Center at Alda Exit I-80 – Photo by Paul A. Johnsgar

The Visitor Center provides displays, information, and seasonal programs related to nature. 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.
The native prairie provides nesting sites for prairie species such as dickcissels, upland sandpipers, bobolinks, grasshopper sparrows and Bell’s vireos. Riparian areas provide habitat for a variety of passerines including black-headed grosbeaks, orchard orioles, willow flycatchers, and black-billed magpie while supporting a thriving wild turkey population. This region of the Platte River is used by migrating sandhill cranes, shorebirds, egrets, least sandpipers and piping plovers. At least 205 species of birds have been recorded at this site.

Trails are open year-round from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Center’s mailing address is PO Box 90, Alda, NE. 68883 (308/382-1820). The Center includes a large nature-related gift shop known as the “Crimson Crown”, bird-feeding stations for public viewing, and a monitored bluebird trail. Reservations are required for either sandhill crane viewing blinds or prairie chicken viewing blinds during March and April.