Sandhill Crane Tour
Alan J. Bartels
The return of sandhill cranes to the Platte River each spring is a natural wonder experienced nowhere else on earth. These large birds have visited Nebraska for thousands of years.
Nebraska Life hasn’t been publishing for quite as long, but in the last 20 years we’ve learned a thing or two about those big, gray birds. Along the way we have discovered the best restaurants, quality lodging properties and most entertaining attractions in the Platte River Valley. We are teaming up with the travel experts at Moostash Joe Tours for a sandhill crane tour of unprecedented quality and adventure. Moostash Joe Tours began exploring Nebraska in 1975. Since then they have toured the world.
Our round-trip deluxe motorcoach tour will depart from Norfolk, Fremont, Lincoln and Omaha. Please join us for our Nebraska Life Sandhill Crane Migration Tour March 20-22, 2017. Read on to find out more.
Day 1 After lunch at the trendy Chocolate Bar in Grand Island we will walk two blocks to the iconic Grand Theatre. We will learn about the history of the ornate landmark building before meeting Nebraska Life assistant editor and crane expert Alan Bartels for a special presentation. He is a wildlife photographer, too, and has guided thousands of visitors to see the cranes. Bartels will share tips on maximizing photo success with all of the wildlife we may encounter. Then we put those tips to use during a driving tour to see cranes while our guide explains their behavior. We will get out to view the birds through binoculars, although they often are quite close. After freshening up at the Best Western Inn & Suites we’ll attend an authentic German supper in the 1870 Liederkranz.
Day 2 Our day begins by observing sandhill cranes from a riverside blind at sunrise. The experience is much different than seeing them feeding near the road. Mass eruptions of the cranes thanks to predatory bald eagles is known to bring tears of amazement to visitors’ eyes.
At the Crane Trust Nature & Visitor Center we’ll learn about efforts saving the endangered whooping crane. Lunch will be at Sutter Deli, where we suggest trying Jean’s Chinese Chicken Salad, a renowned local favorite. This popular restaurant is in a historic former dairy building.
Then we will view the annual Wings Over the Platte art exhibit at the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer. After that passengers will choose between a driving tour of the Rainwater Basin or a grassland tour from the Prairie Plains Resource Institute. After seeing plenty of birds and other wild animals we will enjoy supper at the architecturally charming Chicken Coop. Ask about their local brews.
Day 3 A crane tour on land rarely accessible to the public begins the final day of our adventure. Have those cameras ready for this special experience. In nearby Doniphan our lunch is at the Around the Block Tea Room. This massive former hardware store has history and charm in abundance. Then we will walk across the street to the Swiss Baker for some sweet treats.
Our final stop is Raising Nebraska. This 25,000-square-foot interactive experience in Grand Island explains the story of where our food originates and the families who produce it. This one of a kind attraction is on the grounds of the Nebraska State Fair at Fonner Park.
Our three-day tour includes all meals, admissions and guide fees, and will leave travelers with a lifetime of memories of natural spectacles witnessed, fabulous foods tasted and friends made. Space is limited. Book your tour by Feb. 20 to get the early bird discount and see the world’s most celebrated avian migration with Moostash Joe and Nebraska Life.
For a complete itinerary of tour stops or to secure your seat on this customized tour please visit us at nebraskalife.com/sandhillcranetour2017 or call (402) 721-7944.