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Outlaw Trail - Nebraska Highway 12


category : Trails
Outlaw Trail - Nebraska Highway 12

The wild west era where famous outlaws, horse thieves, lynch mobs and lawmen ruled is past. Today, along the Outlaw Trail, travelers are greeted by friendly folks as well as plenty of quiet hideaways.


Extending from the South Sioux City area to Valentine, the Outlaw Trail Byway meanders along side the Niobrara and Missouri rivers where steep bluffs and tree-shrouded slopes give way to lush, rolling green hills.


The deep canyons and dense tree cover surrounding the Devil's Nest area created a meeting point and hideout sites for Jesse James and his gang. On the western end of the byway, verdant farmland graduates into the wide open spaces of ranching country and the massive Sandhills of Nebraska.


Travelers find plenty of outdoor fun along the way. About 20 miles northwest of South Sioux City, you can spend a day hiking and trail riding in Ponca State Park, then overnight in cabins at the preserve (402/755-2284).


Northwest from that park for nearly 60 miles to Gavins Point Dam, the Missouri River runs wild and free. This river stretch is a favorite for canoeists. Behind Gavins Point Dam, six recreation areas, with camping, dot the shores of huge Lewis and Clark Lake (402/388-4169).


West of the lake, you can canoe another wild stretch of the Missouri River. Or paddle up the Niobrara River where it pours into the Missouri at Niobrara State Park (420/857-3373).


From the park west, State-12 follows the north bank of the Niobrara. Near Sparks, just east of Valentine, the stream runs through a deep, forested gorge. Canoeists from across the country flock to this breathtaking stretch. Most pull ashore at Smith Falls State Park to cool off in its namesake 95-foot-high falls (420/376-1306). You also can camp along the river in the park. Visitors view other waterfalls along trails at nearby Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge (800/658-4024).


History intertwines along this route. Lewis and Clark's Expedition, on the 8,000-mile excursion up the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean navigated through this area.


Nebraska Highway 12 begins at Willis and ends at Valentine. It passes through seven counties: Dakota, Dixon, Cedar, Knox, Boyd, Keya Paha, and Cherry and through the communities of Willis, Ponca, Newcastle, Maskell, Obert, Wynot, Crofton, Niobrara, Verdel, Monowi, Lynch, Bristow, Spencer, Butte, Naper, Mills, Burton, Springview, Sparks, and Valentine.



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Outlaw Trail - Nebraska Highway 12

The wild west era where famous outlaws, horse thieves, lynch mobs and lawmen ruled is past. Today, along the Outlaw Trail, travelers are greeted by friendly folks as well as plenty of quiet hideaways.

Ponca, NE Trails

War Memorials

Union Memorial - "Sacred to the memory of the boys who wore the blue from 1861 - 1865.

Loss of Lives: North, 359,529 -- South, 349,556"

Foreign Wars Memorial - "Soldiers who died overseas - Dixon County"

Ponca, NE Memorials

Carnegie Library - NHR

This brick structure, faced on three sides with stone, was constructed in 1913, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the second to last library to be built with funds donated by Andrew Carnegie. It now contains over 7,712 volumes.

Ponca, NE National Register

Indian Hill Archeological District - NHR

A cluster of eighteen prehistoric archeological sites within less than one-half square mile constitutes the Indian Hill District located near Newcastle. Indian Hill is the only exclusively prehistoric archeological district yet designated in Nebraska and is listed on the

Ponca, NE Archaeology

Cook's Blacksmith Shop Museum

The blacksmith shop was built in 1901 by C.O. Cook, who operated his business for over thirty years. The building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Ponca, NE Museums

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Troll Stroll Nature Walk

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