Panhandle Region, NE
Nebraska's Panhandle region encompasses the western part of the state, bordering South Dakota to the north,
Wyoming to the west and Colorado to the south. The largest city in the region is Scottsbluff, with other large
cities being Chadron, Alliance, Gering, Kimball, Sidney and Bridgeport.
The Panhandle region, particularly Kimball County, has historically accounted for 30% of the oil production in
Nebraska, but that has begun to taper off in recent years. The Panhandle region has the state's best wind
resources, with Nebraska ranking fourth in the nation in wind generation potential. The majority of workers in the
region are employed in service and office occupations, with manual labor occupations in natural resources,
construction and maintenance next, and production and transportation next. Education, healthcare, social
assistance, retail, transportation and agriculture make up the largest industries. There are several higher
education institutions in the Panhandle region, including University of Nebraska Medical Center: College of
Nursing, Chadron State College, also with an extension in Scottsbluff, Summit Christian College and Western
Nebraska Community College, with campus locations in Scottsbluff, Sidney and Alliance.
There are around 10 state protected areas and four national protected areas, most notable including Chadron State
Park, which showcases the beauty of heart of the Nebraska National Forest, Chimney Rock Historic Site, a unique
rock formation most noted on the Oregon Trail, Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Fort Robinson State Park,
with more than 22,000 acres of Pine Ridge scenery, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument and Smith Lake State
Wildlife Management Area. Some other attractions include Toadstool Geologic Park, Carhenge, an imitation of
England's Stonehenge but made with cars, the Eleanor Barbour Cook Museum of Geology, Trailside Museum of Natural
History, Legacy of the Plains Museum, with exhibits of tools, clothing and home furnishings of the early settlers,
a print shop, general store, blacksmith and more, West Nebraska Arts Center, featuring local, national and
international artists with a wide variety of art styles and techniques, and Riverside Zoo.
Scotts Bluff County is located in the mid-western part of Nebraska's Panhandle region, and borders Wyoming to the
west. Scottsbluff is the largest city and Gering is the county seat. Other cities include Minatare and Mitchell,
and there are eight other villages and unincorporated communities. The county is named after the prominent bluff
that served as a landmark for 19th-century pioneers traveling on the Oregon Trail. That landmark is Scotts Bluff
National Monument. Other protected areas in the county include North Platte National Wildlife Refuge, Nine Mile
Creek State Wildlife Management Area and Kiowa State Wildlife Management Area. The economy of the county is
primarily based on agriculture, with key crops being sugar beets, corn and beans. The City of Scottsbluff is a
retail hub of the Panhandle region and offers many options for lodging, dining and shopping. It also maintains 250
-acre park system, which includes two swimming pools and Riverside Campground. University of Nebraska Medical
Center: College of Nursing, Chadron State College Extension and a campus of Western Nebraska Community College are
located in the City of Scottsbluff, and Summit Christian College is in Gering. Some other attractions in the county
include the Riverside Discovery Center, the West Nebraska Arts Center and several Oregon Trail Historic Markers,
such as for Fort Mitchell and the Pony Express.
Kimball County is located south of Scotts Bluff County, in the southwestern corner of Nebraska's Panhandle region.
It is bordered by Wyoming to the west and Colorado to the south, and the area where the states meet is marked by
the Tri-State Monument. It is named for railroad pioneer Thomas L. Kimball. Kimball is the only city and the county
seat, and there are five other villages and unincorporated communities. It has declared itself as the "High Point
of Nebraska," as the highest point in the state, Panorama Point, 5,424 feet about sea level is located there, and
marked with a small monument. The site is higher than the highest point in 30 other U.S. states. Oliver Lake State
Recreation Area includes 917 acres of land and a 270-acre lake where visitors can enjoy boating, fishing, a
swimming beach and camping. The City of Kimball also has two public parks, City Park and Gotte Park, which is home
to the Kimball Municipal Swimming Pool. With the county being fairly rural and with a low population density, there
are also large recreation areas for hunting as well, managed through the Nebraska Conservation Reserve Program-
Management Access Program (CRP-MAP). Some other attractions include a golf course, and the flumes throughout the
county, a type of aqueduct that was patented in the area and used for crop irrigation in the early 1900s, and many
are still well-preserved in many areas. Manufacturing and transportation are important industries in the county.