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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Scottsbluff, Nebraska: A monumental meeting place

Courtesy Scotts Bluff County Tourism

Where are Scottsbluff and Gering, Neb.?

Separated by the North Platte River, the cities are in far western Nebraska, 90 miles northeast of Cheyenne, Wyo.; 180 miles north of Denver; and 200 miles south of Rapid City, S.D.

How do I get there?
Highway 71, a four-lane expressway, connects Scottsbluff and Gering to Interstate 80, 40 miles south. Western Nebraska Regional Airport offers four daily flights to and from Denver.

What types of meetings best suit Scottsbluff and Gering?

With 759 hotel rooms in Scotts Bluff County, the area can accommodate meetings up to 1,000 people. Examples of organizations that meet there are the six-day Oregon/California Trails Association, with 400 attendees from around the country and the world, and a Vietnam veterans reunion, held there every four years.

Did you know?
• The scenery in western Nebraska includes rolling sand hills, fertile valleys, pine-covered mountains and towering bluffs.

• The Oregon, California and Mormon trails, as well as the Pony Express — passed through what would become Scottsbluff.

• Some of the best golfing in the state is found in the region, with 11 golf courses in Scotts Bluff County or within an hour of it.

What’s new?
• In early 2010, the Gering Civic Center expanded its grand ballroom and upgraded the facility’s lighting, carpet, and sound and audiovisual systems.

• Fundraising is under way for the Riverside Discovery Center, which will combine three separate museums into one tourist destination. It will be built on the North Platte River in Scottsbluff at the entrance to Riverside Zoo and will combine the zoo, Don Steen’s Wildlife World and the new Children’s University, an education center.

Tell me about the main meeting sites.
• The Gering Civic Center is a 25,500-square-foot multifunction meeting facility with up to eight meeting rooms, and a lobby and atrium for trade shows and receptions. Its largest space can seat 1,000.

• The 81-room Hampton Inn and Suites in Scottsbluff has 6,000 square feet of meeting space.

• Zip lines, canoeing, rock climbing and ropes courses draw corporate retreats to the Trails West YMCA Camp and Lodge.

Tell me about some sights worth seeing.
• The views from the top of Scotts Bluff National Monument are worth the 1.6-mile drive up Nebraska’s oldest concrete road and through three tunnels. On a clear day, Laramie Peak, 150 miles west, is visible. Chimney Rock, 18 miles east, is the most-noted landmark on the trails west; more than 95 percent of western pioneer diaries that have been found mention it.

• The North Platte Valley Museum in Gering houses the world’s largest collection of Oregon Trail memorabilia.

• Prairie Vine Winery, one of two-dozen wineries in Nebraska, offers tastings in its showroom.

Describe some offbeat sites for off-site meetings.
• Follow agriculture’s path in western Nebraska at the Farm and Ranch Museum in Gering, where a collection of restored farm equipment and a restored farm home and barn illustrate the industry’s progress. The museum has meeting rooms and reception areas.

• Parties can rock at Five Rocks Amphitheater in Gering, where the Dome, Crown, Sentinel, Eagle and Saddle rocks surround an amphitheater and performance pavilion.

For a true taste of Scotts Bluff County… called Rosita’s a “small place with a small kitchen” where “every dish is made from scratch just before being served.” That includes the three-dimensional, freshly fried corn chips. When they come back home, Scottsbluff expatsmake a point to have enchiladas smothered in pork or cheese at Taco de Oro. For fancier fare, the Emporium in Scottsbluff has more than 125 wines to accompany its seafood, beef, duck and other entrees.