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Partners in the Parks: Exploring the High Plains
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The western High Plains is a unique region of mixed-grass, tall-grass, and sand hills prairie where six major ecosystems converge due to unique geology and geography, giving the region the name “biological crossroads.”

 Export to Your Calendar 6/9/2018 to 6/16/2018
When: June 9-16, 2018
Where: Exploring the High Plains
United States
Contact: NCHC Office
(402) 472-9150

Online registration is available until: 5/9/2018
« Go to Upcoming Event List  

The western high plains are underlain with a massive ramp of sediment that extends from the Rocky Mountains to the east, almost to the eastern edges of South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. This sediment also happens to be full of water; and known as the Ogallala Aquifer. Geology as a science is fundamentally driven by the human need for natural resources and our need to make good long term decisions about managing these resources. On the high plains water dominates; water access, abundance, quality and why it is better in one place and not so much in another all depends on the structure and the geologic history of the high plains. Water, elevation and sediment controls patterns of biodiversity across the high plains. The ultimate driver is plate tectonics; a process that is actively raising the Rocky Mountains which are both a source of regional weather and climate control as well as the source of the sediment that makes up the high plains. This sediment contains one of North Americas’ largest aquifers providing the water resources for a significant percentage of food production in North America. 


Tentative Itinerary

The following sites managed by the National Park Service are within approximately a 3 hour drive of each other.

Saturday, June 9, 2018: Students arrive at Cedar Point Biological Station, Ogallala, NE

      Students flying in will be picked up from Denver International Airport or can take the Roadrunner shuttle from the airport to Ogallala

      Dinner and campfire at CPBS

Sunday, June 10

      Breakfast at CPBS

      Leave for Valentine at 8:00 am; Arrive at Smith Falls State Park by Noon (~ 3 h drive)

      Set up campsite at Smith Falls State Park

      Afternoon: Explore Niobrara National Scenic River and its surroundings – activities TBA

      Dinner at campsite.

Monday, June 11

      Canoe the upper portion of the Niobrara River

      Visit the Nature Conservancy: Niobrara Valley Preserve

      Ranger lead hike; or geology hike


Tuesday, June 12

      Leave Smith Falls campsite after breakfast and drive to Lakota Tribal College, Kyle SD (~ 2 ½ h) to arrive at the College mid-morning.

•       Lakota Culture and Traditional Plants, Herbs and Foods

      Leave College late afternoon and drive to Badlands National Park (~25 mi)

      Set up campsite; prepare dinner

Wednesday, June 13

      Ranger led hikes and other activities TBA in Badlands National Park

      Camp Wed. evening in the Park

Thursday, Thursday, June 14

      After breakfast travel to Mt. Rushmore National Memorial (1 ½ h)

      Ranger lead hike and other activities TBA

      Leave Mt. Rushmore late afternoon and travel to Jewel Cave National Monument

      (~ 60 min)

      Set up camp at Jewel Cave; prepare dinner

Friday, June 15

      Ranger lead tour of Jewel Cave, above and below ground; other activities TBA

      Camp at Jewel Cave campground

Saturday, June 16, travel to Cedar Point Biological Station (~ 4 h).

Short stops will be made at the following locations, time permitting

      Wind Cave National Park

      Custer State Park

      Mammoth Site in Hot Springs SD

      Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

Stay overnight at Cedar Point Biological Station

      Sunday, June 17

      Students leave CPBS for home. Transportation for those students leaving from Denver International Airport will be provided.

Program Size 14 Students
NCHC Member Price $600 (does not include airfare)
NCHC Nonmember Price $1200 (does not include airfare)
Deadline to Register May 9, 2018





Trip Facilitator

Bill Glider, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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