They come as they have for thousands of years to this incomparable stretch of the Platte River—an estimated 600,000 cranes in all—to rest, feed and concentrate in astonishing numbers before pushing on to their breeding grounds in the north. Now, as never before, you will experience the wonder of North America’s great Sandhill Crane migration on rare Crane Trust lands in south-central Nebraska. Below you will find all the information relevant to your upcoming stay. We look forward to seeing you soon!
From Omaha’s Eppley Airport: Out of the airport, turn right on to Abbott Drive for about half a mile then continue on the Storz Expressway. Follow the Storz Expressway until you see signs for I-480 South. Merge onto I-480 South. Watch for signs for I-80 West, and merge onto I-80 West. Continue to follow signs for I-80 West out of Omaha, through Lincoln, and through Grand Island until you reach Exit 305 (approximately 2 hours, 20 minutes). Take Exit 305 and turn left onto South Alda Road. The Crane Trust Nature & Visitor Center will be just over the bridge and to your left.
Meeting Location: 9325 S Alda Road, Wood River, NE 68883
How to Dress
Average temperatures for March in Nebraska range from 20-40˚F—and can change unexpectedly. You’ll need to be prepared for a variety of conditions. The following items will help, along with a few ancillary items you might want to consider for your personal comfort:
• Cold weather clothing: heavy coat, knit cap, gloves, wool socks, and thermal underwear
• Cool-mild weather clothing for layers
• Hiking boots or other hiking footwear
• Rain jacket or other waterproof outerwear
The Pietrok Family VIP Blind has a heater and is protected from the weather outside, but you will need to walk approximately 1/3 mile over uneven ground to reach the blind. For outdoor activities, always dress in layers, with warm boots, coat, gloves and hat close at hand. Rain gear may be desirable in wet weather.
Equipment to Bring
Bring your camera, binoculars or video equipment if you have them. No flash photography allowed in the viewing blind. Due to limited space, tripods are not allowed. For best results, a telephoto lens is recommended for photographing cranes and other wildlife.
- Accommodations in the Crane Trust’s Wild Rose Ranch Legacy Cottages with comfortable private bedrooms, a private bathroom for each bedroom, mini fridge, coffee maker and patio. The Bay Family Suite includes a full-size fridge, coffee maker and dock with fire pit over the pond.
- Fresh linens and bath towels/wash cloths
- All meals (with vegetarian option) and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) during scheduled activities, along with fresh fruit and snacks*
- Ground transportation is provided from the Grand Island Airport only
- Guided crane viewing in the Crane Trust’s private VIP Pietrok Family blinds in the evening and morning
* Outside food is welcome. Please bring any over-the-counter or prescribed medications you may require.
At Your Service
Upon your arrival at the Crane Trust Nature & Visitor Center, Nikki Chavez, Crane Trust Relationship Coordinator, will be there to greet you in the lobby. After a short tour of the center, you will caravan three short miles over to the Crane Trust private lands with Nikki where you'll meet Chuck Cooper, President/CEO. You'll have some time to settle into your cottage before meeting additional staff as your experience gets underway.
Surroundings & Accommodations
The Crane Trust’s Wild Rose Ranch is located in south-central Nebraska on 4,500 continuous acres of native grassland prairie and wet meadows that are owned and managed by the Crane Trust. This rare ecosystem includes an uninterrupted seven-mile stretch of the historic Platte River, which has been preserved by the Crane Trust to mirror the unique and extraordinary habitat that has been used by the endangered whooping crane and three sub-species of sandhill cranes for millennia.
The Wild Rose Ranch is a working ranch for crane habitat. The main ranch facility includes the headquarters office, Lauritzen, Union Bank & Trust and Hastings College Cottages, Bay Family Suites, research laboratory, bunkhouse, premium meeting/dining facilities, outdoor deck and observation platform with breathtaking views of the tallgrass prairie and Platte River waterway. Your premium crane-viewing Pietrok Family VIP Blind is within a mile of the cottages.
Private accommodations in the Lauritzen, Union Bank & Trust and Hastings College Cottages include comfortable lodging with private sleeping rooms and bathrooms, shared common area, kitchenette and television. The Bay Family Suites have two adjoining suites each featuring a king bed, dual sink bathroom, kitchenette, family room leading to a dock with fire pit on the pond.
Lauritzen, Union Bank & Trust, and Hastings College Cottages
The Bay Family Suites
The Crane Trust is also home to a beautiful Nature and Visitor Center that welcomes guests to the Crane Trust’s rare, protected lands year round—and to the great sandhill crane migration in the spring. You’ll have full access to the Center and roughly 10 miles of nature trails along the Platte River. Here you’ll find an impressive array of wildlife art and photography on display and for sale in the Hornady Art Gallery and many unique souvenirs in the Crimson Crown Gift Shop. And when you venture outside, you’ll encounter our rare, genetically-pure herd of American bison. Vast herds of American bison once co-existed with the cranes before settlement and were instrumental in shaping this critical habitat along the Platte River for cranes and other wildlife.
The Crane Trust’s Wild Rose Ranch is a smoke-free environment.