Natural Features Along the Byway

  • The Sandhills are the largest area of stabilized grass covered sand dunes in the Western Hemisphere encompassing more than 13 million acres. The Sandhills equal an area about as large as Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island combined.
  • The Sandhills landscape functions as a giant sponge situated atop the nation’s largest under-ground water supply. The Ogallala Aquifer is part of a larger ground water reservoir called the High Plains Aquifer, which is located under eight states. The Sandhills are blessed with the largest and most accessible amount of that water. The Loup River System (South, Middle, North Loup and Dismal Rivers) has been documented as the most constant flowing in the world.
  • The Byway lies at the heart of the Central Flyway for migratory birds. The annual Sandhill Crane migration is touted as one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in the world.
  • The area is one of the largest “dark spots” left in the continental United States and a highly desired destination for astronomy buffs.
  • The Nebraska National Forest, near Halsey, is the nation’s largest hand-planted forest, encompassing 92,000 acres of rolling hills planted with 22,000 acres of trees.
  • The Bessey Nursery, located in the Nebraska National Forest, is the oldest operational nursery in the national forest system today and one of six still in operation in the United States today.