The Oregon Trail

Three miles east of Fort Robinson, Crawford (pop. 973) has settled into a sedate life as a ranching and farming center. Pines and cottonwoods line the White River at the foot of the weirdly eroded Legend Buttes, making a pretty scene. Even prettier are the Oglala National Grasslands, which start eight miles north of Crawford via Hwy-2 and occupy 94,000 acres along the Nebraska, Wyoming, and South Dakota borders. The grasslands are home to hawks, eagles, and antelope and are highlighted by the eerie landscape of Toadstool Geological Park, where ancient fossils can be found among weirdly eroded figures. The grasslands also protect an archaeological site known as the Hudson-Meng Bison Bone Bed (308/432-0300), a shallow arroyo holding the enigmatic remains of over 600 bison spread over an area the size of a football field. Displays on the site include stone tools and arrowheads dating from approximately 10,000 years ago and a small garden growing native preconquest crops.

Back in the present day, you can dig into juicy chicken sandwiches and other timeless fast food at Crawford’s Staab’s Drive In (110 McPherson St., 308/665-1210), right on US-20.