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Partners in the Parks: High Plains
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Partners in the Parks: High Plains

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.” By visiting four National Parks we will explore how water, elevation, and sediment control the patterns of biodiversity across the high plains. In addition, participants will have an excellent opportunity to learn about the Lakota Indians, a first nation of North America.

7/13/2019 to 7/21/2019
When: July 13-21, 2019
Where: United States
Contact: NCHC Office
(402) 472-9150

Online registration is closed.
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Please read the following before registering:



Affiliating yourself with your institution

If you are not the director of your program, or you do not hold a current NCHC Institutional, Professional, or Student Membership, and/or have not attended an NCHC program in the past year, you may not be in our new software system yet!

You must sign up as a "Contact" prior to registering for any NCHC program, using the link below. 

Sign up as a Contact!

Be sure to select “Contact” when creating a username for our website. If your institution has an Institutional Membership, signing up as a "Contact" will affiliate you with your institution, and you'll receive the member discount. If you sign up for any membership aside from "Contact," you will be asked to pay for that membership fee.

You'll receive an email notification, and THEN you may start registration for the intended institute.

(If your institution is not a member of NCHC, please proceed as a "Guest.")

*Members receive a 50% discount on NCHC Partners in the Parks registration pricing!

Questions? Contact the NCHC office at (402) 472-9150 or


Mandatory Documentation

This year, when you register, you will be required to turn in 3 forms stating your acknowledgement of different NCHC policies while you are a participant on your potential trip. To save you some time while registering, we recommend downloading these files now, digitally or physically signing them, and have them ready to be uploaded with your application.



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. The stops proposed in the tentative itinerary allow an excellent overview of these concepts.


The parks to be visited are the following:

• Niobrara National Scenic River

• Badlands National Park

• Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

• Mount Rushmore National Memorial

• Wind Cave National Park

• Scottsbluff National Monument 



Click here to view photos from the 2018 PITP High Plains trip.


Tentative Itinerary for Exploring the High Plains Project (July 13 – 21, 2019)

The trip will start at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Cedar Point Biological Station, near Ogallala, NE. 


Saturday: July 13

·     Students will meet at Cedar Point Biological Station (CPBS), Ogallala, NE via car or  plane

·    Students flying in will be picked up from Denver International Airport.  It is important
  that all students arrive at the airport as early as possible on Saturday, July 13.  Only one
  run to pick up students will be made in early to mid afternoon.

·     Dinner and campfire at CPBS


Sunday, July 14 

·       7:00 am breakfast at CPBS

·       Make bag lunches

·       Leave for Valentine, NE @ 8:00 am; Arrive at Smith Falls State Park by Noon (about 3 h trip).

·       Set up campsite at Smith Falls State Park

·       Sunday afternoon activities based on my talks with the Park Superintendent and Interpreter : Explore Niobrara National Scenic River .  



Monday, July 15

·       Breakfast at campsite

·       Visit Fort Niobrara Wildlife Refuge wildlife management

·       Ranger led hike through the refuge

·       Kayak the Niobrara River – eat bag lunch on the river

·       Dinner at Smith Falls campsite


Tuesday, July 16

  • Leave Smith Falls campsite after breakfast and drive to Oglala Lakota College, Kyle, SD ~ 2 ½ h.; arrive mid to late morning.

·       Activities at Oglala Lakota College will include a guided tour of the Oglala Lakota College Historical Center and a talk on traditional Lakota foods, medicinal plants & herbs

·       Lunch

Leave College by 4:30 pm; drive to Badlands National Park, Ben Riefel Visitor Center via South Entrance to the park ~ 1 h.

Ø  Set up campsite at Cedar Pass Campground

Ø  Dinner at Cedar Pass Lodge 

Ø  Ranger lead evening program and Night Sky Program


Wednesday, July 17

  • Early morning hike

·       Morning Ranger lead tour of Badlands National Park

·       Afternoon: Hike trails in the park

·       Breakfast, lunch and dinner at the campsite

·       Camp at Badlands Cedar Pass Campground

·       Evening: Ranger lead evening program and Night Sky Program


Thursday, July 18


·       Breakfast at Cedar Pass Campground

·       Break camp

·       Leave for Mt. Rushmore National Memorial  at 7:45 am

·       Stop at Minuteman Missile National Historic Site: opens at 8:00 am – spend 2 h at site


·       Travel to Mt. Rushmore (~ 1½ - 2h) – 97 mi 

Eat lunch at Mt. Rushmore; activities TBA; leave by 2:00 pm

Travel from Mt. Rushmore to Crazy Horse Memorial (~ ½ h – 29 mi); activities TBA – open 7:00 am – 10:30 pm


·       travel to Wind Cave National Park (~30 – 40 min – 23 mi)           

·          Set-up camp at Elk Mountain group campsite

·          Dinner

·          Evening activities TBA


Friday, July 19

·     Entire day exploring Wind Cave National Park:

·     Wild Cave Tour

·     Hiking

·     Camp at Elk Mountain campsite

·     No showers available 


Saturday, July 20


  • Early breakfast
  • Leave Wind Cave and travel to Hot Springs, South Dakota : 20 miles; ½ h
  • Tour Mammoth Hot Springs Museum – 9:00 – 11:00 am


  • Travel from Hot Springs, SD to Jackson Lake State Park, Orchard, CO: 4 ¾  hours- 284 mi; via Scottsbluff National Monument, Gering, NE
  • Hot Springs, SD to Scottsbluff National Monument, NE for Lunch: 2 ½ h – 144 mi. Lunch at the Visitors Center and Museum
  • Travel from Scottsbluff National Monument to Jackson Lake State Park: 2 ½ h – 133 mi
  • Camp at Jackson Lake State Park; coin operated showers available


Sunday, July 21


·       Early breakfast

·       Leave Jackson Lake State Park by 7:00 am and travel to Denver International Airport: 1h 10 min.  We should arrive at the airport by 8:30 am.  At least 2 hours should be allotted for check-in Therefore, it is recommended that flights should not be scheduled to leave prior to 11:00 am  



Program Size 10 Students
NCHC Member Price $650 (does not include airfare)
NCHC Nonmember Price $1300 (does not include airfare)
Deadline to Register June 1, 2019









If you have any questions regarding your trip specifically, please contact your trip facilitators listed below. They will be sending you more information regarding what to pack, and any supplies you may need for your trip.


Trip Facilitators

Bill Glider, University of Nebraska-Lincoln




All requests for refunds MUST be submitted in writing to the national office and RECEIVED no later than thirty days in advance of the trip departure date.

  • Received prior to 30 days before trip departure:          Full refund, less a $50 per person administrative fee
  • Received within 30 days before trip departure:            No refunds granted

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