Every year from late February to early April, over 600,000 Sandhill Cranes migrate on the Platte River valley in order to ‘fuel up’ before resuming their northward migration.
Start planning your trip today!
On Thursday, April 5th, 2018, Crane Trust counted a photo-corrected 302,300 +/-24,000 Sandhill Cranes in the Central Platte River Valley between Chapman and Overton, Nebraska. On April 9th, they counted a photo corrected 238,100 +/-26,600 Sandhill Cranes.
Experience One of the Earth’s Greatest Migrations!
Book A Blind at Rowe Sanctuary
We highly recommend this option if you want an up-close viewing experience.
Viewing experiences include guided tours, indoor viewing, photography blinds and over night blinds, price ranging from $15 per person to $250 per person.
Indoor Crane Viewing Experience at Rowe Sanctuary
Watch Sandhill Cranes return to their river roost from the comfort of the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center. Program beings with a Crane Behavior Basics class followed by viewing from inside the center. Most appropriate for those who wish to avoid cold weather or are unable to make it to our viewing blinds. Visitor center is wheelchair accessible. This experience is NOT ideal for photography.
March 1-April 7, $20/person
Start time: 6:00pm
Got Kids? Blinds Too Cold? No Problem!
Families can enjoy a special night of Crane viewing from inside the Iain Nicolson Audubon Visitor Center on Wednesday evenings throughout the season. The program features special kid-friendly activities as you wait for the Cranes to begin arriving on the river. Contact Rowe Sanctuary to make your reservation.
Cost is $10/person, no charge for kids ages 4 & younger.
March 6, 13, 20, 27 & April 3
Start time: 6:00pm
Designated areas are provided for crane viewing for different times of the day. Pull-offs provide opportunities for day-time viewing in the fields, while the Fort Kearny Bridge spanning the Platte River offers perfect sunrise and sunset viewing.
Crane Excursion Adventure Bus
Thursdays thru Sundays, March 14-April 7
Larger Groups of 10 or more can customize a date/time
Includes Step-on Guide
Each Excursion will be a unique viewing Adventure and will last 2 plus hours with stops at the Rowe Sanctuary, Fort Kearny and other crane viewing sites.
Tickets can be purchased here or call 308-627-8086 for more information.
Kearney now offers daily nonstop jet service from Denver! Book now at united.com.
Flights are operated by SkyWest Airlines.
What People Are Saying About the Cranes
Our staff can tell you how spectacular the Sandhill Cranes are all day long. But to remain unbiased, we asked people who have experienced the migration for themselves.
Request your own 2019 Crane Watch brochure today!
Sandhill Crane FAQs
We want you to have a memorable and educational experience. So we’ve compiled a list to help you get started!
Not only is your crane experience our top priority, but we also want everyone else to enjoy theirs as well.
Make sure to read through our Crane Viewing Etiquette guidelines for your safety, the safety of others and the safety of the birds.
Feel free to call us at 308-237-3178 for any additional questions and we would love to help you!
Audubon’s Nebraska Crane Festival: March 22-24, 2019
Bringing together hundreds of crane lovers from around the country to Kearney, Nebraska, to interact with a wide range of environmental speakers, take part in incredible birding trips, and, best of all, experience the world’s largest gathering of Sandhill Cranes!
Audubon Nebraska is excited to announce actress Lili Taylor as the lunchtime speaker on March 23, 2019 at the festival. Lili will join David Mizejewki in the lineup of speakers. Click here for Speaker Bios.
Other Birding Guides
Central Nebraska Wildlife Viewing Guide
Bald Eagles, prairie chickens, sharp-tailed grouse, black-tailed prairie dogs, hawks, waterfowl and more can also be observed in Central Nebraska. Nebraska’s Rainwater Basins is situated midway between wintering areas along the Texas Gulf Coast and southward, and breeding sites as far north as the Arctic. It serves as an important resting and refueling place to waterfowl.
Travel the Winner’s Circle: The Spring Birding Trifecta
Spring in Nebraska is a magical time for birders. There are three unique opportunities to be experienced featuring the Sandhill Cranes, American White Pelicans and the Greater Prairie Chickens within a short drive from each other.
Central Eagle Viewing
Central’s Eagle-viewing facility at the J-2 Hydroplant opens for the season on the end of December and will be open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. through February. Spotting scopes are provided and attendants are available to answer questions. J-2 is located about seven miles south of Lexington. Kingsley Eagle Viewing Facility is located on the south side of Kingsley Dam at Lake McConaughy. There is no charge to visit the facilities, but call ahead to make sure space is available.
CNIPPID Holdrege Office: 308-995-8601
J-2 Viewing Facility: 308-324-2811
Kingsley Viewing Facility: 308-284-2332
Smithsonian.com: 500,000 cranes are headed for Nebraska in one of Earth’s greatest migrations.
Nature got it right with the cranes. They have been around since the Eocene, which ended 34 million years ago. Read More.
The sights and sounds of hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes:
The spring migration population of sandhill cranes in the Central Nebraska Flyway is estimated at 650,000.
Height — 3 to 4 feet
Wingspan — 6 feet
Weight — 8 to 12 pounds
Color — Gray
Migration — 170 to 450 miles/day
Flight Speed — 38 mph
Mating — Begins at age 3 to 4
Eggs — 2 per year