My Town Destination: Ogallala, NE, Keith County
Trip Type: Weekend Trip
Date of Visit: 6/25/19-6/27/19
Town Ambassador/Contact: Kyla Wilson- Phone:(308) 284.4066 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You may have heard of Ogallala because of its interesting name, or because it served as a filming location for Lonesome Dove, known as one of the greatest westerns of all time. But did you know that Ogallala is also an incredible place for families? The small town of Ogallala with roughly 4,700 residents is not only a great place to live, but also to visit. Recently, the town has made great investments for walking traffic, and is also sought after for its beautiful beach locations within minutes of town.
When heading West on I-80, its hard to avoid driving through corn fields, and the last thing you would expect to see is a large body of water. But once you reach Western Nebraska with it’s rolling hills and rocky outcroppings, the landscape gives way to beautiful Lake McConaughy.
Lake McConaughy is Nebraska’s largest reservoir on the North Platte River. Referred to locally as “Lake Mac,” It is located 9 miles (14 km) north of Ogallala, near U.S. Highway 26 and Nebraska Highway 61. Lake McConaughy is over 20 miles long, four miles wide, and has over 100 miles of shoreline! “The reservoir was named for Charles W. McConaughy, a grain merchant, mayor of Holdrege, Nebraska, and one of the leading promoters of the reservoir building project. Although he did not live to see the completion of the project, his leadership and perseverance eventually culminated in a public power and irrigation project, that helped Nebraska become one of the nation’s leading agricultural states.”( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_McConaughy )
One the biggest surprises at Lake McConaughy, is the beautiful white sand surrounding this western lake. The sand is just as soft and beautiful as being on an ocean, and you can spend all day playing on the beaches and exploring the shores. In addition, make sure to check out several local waterfront eateries, like Admiral’s Cove and Bayside.
If boating, swimming, sunning, or water sports are not your thing, Lake McConaughy is also a great place for fishing. You can find Walleye, White bass, Wiper, Perch, Catfish, Trout and much more here. It’s also a great area for hunting. When in season you can find Deer, Merriam Turkey, Pheasant, Quail, Duck or Geese.
Stay On The Water
Because of Lake McConaughy’s beauty, there are wonderful places to stay lakeside for families. My Town had the opportunity to stay at Eagle Canyon Hideaway. Eagle Canyon is situated on the Eastern part of the Lake, with great water frontage. It is an excellent place to stay for recreation, to play, or relax on the water.
When My Town stayed at Eagle Canyon, we were on a family trip. The minute “The boys”(as we lovingly refer to them) got out of the truck, they grabbed their bikes and road all over Eagle Canyon’s property. The boys then begged to go play in the pool, followed by a walk to the lake, and great pizza at Eagle Canyon’s adorable cafe. What a great way to spend an afternoon! Offering Cabins, Camping, and RV hook ups- Eagle Canyon Hideaway is a great place to stay for a family vacation, hunting or fishing trip, or even if your’e just passing through! Check out the aerial video of the property here to see all Eagle Canyon Hideaway has to offer!
Explore the Oregon Trail and Cowboy History
You cannot come to Ogallala without checking out the history of the Orgeon and Texas trails. Ogallala’s title of “Cowboy Capital” comes from the migration of Texas cowboys to the town. There are several places you can spend time learning and exploring. Check out Ash Hollow, Windlass Hill, and Boot Hill Cemetery. When you visit Windlass Hill you can clearly see the wagon wheel marks still visible on the landscape. At Boot Hill, you can feel the somberness of yesterday’s fallen cowboys.
Inns and Institutions
It seems like every small town has unique old buildings that capture your attention and your imagination. It is wonderful when you’re able to visit a town that has invested resources in these institutions and brings them back to life. In Ogallala, you will find this investment at the Mansion on The Hill. The Mansion is in a great location in front of “Boot Hill.” Here you can explore the preserved Victorian style home completed in 1887. Ogallala’s first schoolhouse and early homestead structures where also moved to the property. Mansion on the Hill was a family home until the Historical Society purchased in the mid 1900’s.
Catch the Western Spirit- Be Local for the Day
In Ogallala they treat you like family. You would be remiss not spend a little time downtown, visiting the lovely shops and especially the shop owners, who would love to meet you! Spend time grabbing a great beverage at Slow Lane coffee, get the perfect book at Hokes Book Store, find unique clothes at Tin Cactus, and take in a show at the The Prairie Theatre.
Ogallala is currently undergoing a revitalization, and several of its once vacant storefronts, are now being restored with businesses catering to the community. One of these downtown investments is being made by Jeremy Smith at The Driftwood.
The Driftwood is renovating a good portion of the block on Spruce Street, and the development includes fun community features. This isn’t just a bar and restaurant – they incorporated “Good Life Rooms,” holding up to 80 for meetings, weddings etc. and a private patio. In addition, The Driftwood features a stage for events, and even a basketball court and game room for the community to enjoy. What makes the Driftwood special is its dedication to the community. As stated by Jeremy Smith: “This is a community built project, we used 100% local contractors, and exclusively use local beef from Tjaden Beef near Elsie.”
The Driftwood, and Ogallala’s business community, are excellent places to see how a community supports one another in a small town. If you are planning a trip West, you must make Ogallala a small town destination on your to do list!
The Unique, Interesting, Yours, of Ogallala
What is it about a town that makes it special? A local attraction, a family-owned business that has been there forever? A piece of history you can’t find anywhere else, or a book store with just the right vibe? Here are a few of the Unique, Interesting, Yours of Ogallala.
Collectible Destination- Seriously, the most fun you can have in a store. You can’t help but get nostalgic and excited in this place, its an experience! Check out video here. The Petrified Wood Gallery– Natural Beauty beyond words. A very interesting find in Ogallala, or for that matter anywhere! You have to see it to understand how unique it truly is!
Ogallala’s Wild West Soap Box Derby, celebrating 13 years of quality racing for kids! With over one hundred racing locations nationwide, if you’re already part of this world, you have to stop in to see how great the Ogallala Soap Box Derby is set up. If you’re not familiar with Soap Box Derby, click here to learn more about this great nonprofit, and how your kids can be involved. Click here for Aerial View of the property.
MTT Antique and Market Finds
Great Antique Shops and Farmers Markets are familiar sights in small towns. This can include Thrift Shops, Local Eats, and the like! Here are some great MTT Antique and Market Finds from Ogallala.
The Most Unlikely Place– Amazing place for art, unique gifts and great food. Don’t believe MTT has ever been to an establishment where the kids can participate in collecting their fresh herbs for breakfast. And don’t forget to ask about the pedal car!
Front Street Cafe- No place better to get you in the western spirit! Catch a live western stage show, check out the free museum of local cowboy history, and find a special something in the gift shop!
My Town Today has started a referral section of each article. It’s based on visiting a town, and finding out what town the majority of its citizens would recommend for My Town to visit next.
The referral for this entry is: Chadron, NE. Stay tuned for My Town Today to pop up there soon.
Ogallala Photo Gallery Click Here: