Experience the phenomenal Sandhill Crane migration each spring in central Nebraska. Over 80% of the world’s Sandhill Cranes stopover on the central Platte River Valley, with peak numbers occurring between late March and early April. Here they rest and refuel before continuing their migration to breeding grounds further north. This area contains important habitats for the Sandhill Cranes including sandbars in the shallow braided Platte River which are safe roost sites for the cranes, keeping them protected from nighttime predators. During the day, the cranes forage in adjacent crop fields and wet meadows to build up enough energy for their long journey north to their breeding grounds. Cranes are social birds and may be seen dancing to strengthen pair bonds. It is hard not to be awe-struck by the shear number, size, and loud distinctive calls that fill the air while observing the cranes in Nebraska.
Where to view
There are several different ways to enjoy this spectacular crane migration, from free self-guided driving tours, to fee-based guided tours or viewing blinds, to watching the cranes from live cams in the comfort of your own home.
Crane Trust Nature & Visitor Center, Wood River, NE
- Guided tours and viewing blinds, reservations required at (308) 382-1820. Learn more.
Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary, Gibbon, NE
- Guided tours and viewing blinds, reservations required at (308) 468-5282. Learn more.
Self-Guided Driving Tours
- Drive yourself through central Nebraska to view these magnificent birds.
Find a route for you.
For more information about where to view cranes and trip planning details visit Nebraska Flyway.
Viewing tips & etiquette
- Use designated viewing sites to watch the cranes, respecting private property. Most land in the Platte River valley is private.
- To prevent disturbance to the cranes, use your vehicle as a ‘blind’ and stay in your car or right next to it.
- Be respectful to the cranes and other visitors, by staying quiet and not approaching the cranes at any time.
- Weather conditions can change rapidly on the great plains during late winter and early spring. Plan accordingly by dressing in warm layers suitable for low temperatures.