Fall Fishing Tips

Posted by on Sep 3, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Fall Fishing Tips

Fall Fishing Tips

The United States ranks among the top ten most biodiverse ecosystems in the entire world. Due to its diversity of freshwater and marine ecosystems, our country ranks particularly high in terms of fish species. That doesn’t surprise us here in Nebraska; in fact, the entire Great Plains region is home to some of the greatest fishing you’ll find nestled between the coasts. No matter the season, it’s always a great time to drop a line in the water.

When September rolls around, most people are putting away their fishing gear, winterizing their boats, and cleaning out their tents and campers for the season. Those folks are missing out on some of the best fishing of the year. We think fall is the perfect time to head out to the rivers, streams, and lakes, and reel in the long talked about whopper! Beautiful fall colors, cooler temps making it more comfortable to be out all day, and less people clogging up the usual fishing spots makes fall fishing ideal in our book! However, fall fishing can be a bit trickier than other times of the year, so we decided to gather up some great tips to help make sure your fall fishing trips are a huge success. As huge as that walleye you caught that one year, when nobody was around to see it, but you told us about later.

Largemouth Bass

If you’re fishing lakes or reservoirs in the fall, your top priority should be to find the bait fish that are swimming in schools. When you find those schools of bait fish, you will inevitably find hungry largemouth bass, because they’re going after them. During fall, bait fish are usually found hundreds of yards away from structure and in open water. You can use your sonar to locate them or just look for bait fish skimming across the water being chased by hungry fish. Circling and diving birds are also an indication of bait fish locations. Crank baits in shallower waters, along with reaction type baits to try triggering their instincts to attack, are a couple of your best options for landing largemouth bass in the fall.

Blue Gill

During the fall, bluegill go to shallow weeds and rocks and hang right on drop offs. Live bait is the best way to go. If it’s midday and bugs are hatching, using a sinking fly can also get a lot of strikes.


Once fall rolls around, the temperature of lake waters cool dramatically, and pike are no longer controlled by the temperature. This causes them to roam more than they do during the warmer months. They’re more likely to head into shallower waters to hunt bait fish. Your best bet is to start off using topwater baits in those shallow waters, especially near weed lines or any sharp break off points. If pike are near those locations, they’ll let you know by devouring your bait and putting up a good fight! If you don’t have any luck, switch it up and try floating/diving lures.


Those great-to-eat yellow perch move into shallow waters as the water temperatures drop in the fall and feed on schools of small bait fish. They are especially attracted to muddy areas. Try small minnow baits with a lot of action near structure. I like to use shiny, vibrating lures across structures and near drop-offs. Colors like chartreuse or bright red can be effective in clear or stained water, and flashing blades work well on sunny days.


Walleyes move more towards the shallow waters as the surface temperature begins to cool in early fall. They also eat more during the day. Later in the fall when the water temperature begins dropping, they are usually found deeper. Trolling some crankbaits is almost a sure bet. Or at least as sure as you can be when it comes to fishing. You will have to experiment with your trolling presentation, as it can vary from lake to lake and location to location. Try to keep an eye on which direction the walleye are moving. Most of the time, they can be found near areas with big structures. Big baits will usually be more effective because walleye are wanting to bulk up in the fall.

Smallmouth Bass

Different from the other fish we’ve discussed so far, smallmouths tend to do their feeding in deeper waters in these fall months. Longer, diving crankbaits that dive from 15-30 feet are ideal for reaching them at these depths. Also, try matching the colors and size of the bait fish they are feeding on. Jigging spoons are a great choice for landing the smallmouth, letting them hit the bottom and rebounding before falling again.


For big fall muskies, just like perch, follow the schools of baitfish. Cooler water means that they just won’t chase a fast moving lure, so go to large, slow moving baits. Prime places are clear weed-less water where big muskies will be patrolling for bait fish, such as river mouths, rocky points, narrows or in open water off big weed beds.

There you go, folks. You’re all ready to go set those hooks. Need a place to stay this fall that will keep you close to the fishing waters? Located in Mullen, Nebraska, Sandhills Motel is at the center of the Nebraska fishing experience. Take your pick- want to cast your line into the Dismal, South-Middle-North Loup, Niobrara, North-South Platte Rivers; or perhaps Merrit Reservoir or Lake McConaughy? All offer spectacular, unspoiled fishing experiences and peaceful, verdant scenery. And by staying at the Sandhills Motel, you ensure your evening is just as calming as your day of angling!

Landscape Photography for Beginners

Posted by on Aug 8, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Landscape Photography for Beginners

Landscape Photography for Beginners

The Great Plains of Nebraska evoke a feeling of simpler times. Whether it’s stunning sunrises, or dramatic sunsets, the visual of seeing the plains in their entire splendor is something that can have us daydreaming about the old days, long before the development of our beautiful plains. Capturing these lands in all their glory takes some time to master, but when you do, the results can be truly frame-worthy. Scenes of the Great Plains make for fantastic wall hangings in homes, offices, or anywhere else that needs some positive energy sprinkled into it. If you don’t know much about photography, don’t fret! We’re here to give you a few tips so you can take some of your own scenic photos home to show off. So grab your camera, dust off your lens, and follow some of our beginner tips for landscape photography!

  1. Invest in a quality camera

Sure, your fancy phone can take some awesome photos of you and your friends, and your point and shoot camera can catch some good photos now and again. But for landscape photography, you’ll truly want to invest in at least a beginner level DSLR or mirrorless camera. Mirrorless and DSLR cameras provide maximum control over camera settings, which means not only is the baseline quality of the image automatically superior, the possibilities of creating professional-looking pictures are endless.

Mirrorless and DSLR cameras also allow the photographer to swap lenses. For sweeping canyons and caverns, it’s best to go with a solid wide lens that can capture a wide range of your landscape. For more detailed images, don’t be afraid to use a zoom lens or telephoto lens, so you can capture the hidden beauty in your scenes. Experiment with different focal lengths (the distance in millimeters between the lens and the camera’s sensor) to see how the same vista can render in different ways. Keep in mind, there are plenty of high quality cameras and lenses out there that won’t deplete your bank account. You don’t need a professional grade camera to capture stunning photos, you just need to train your eyes to see the beauty you’re trying to capture.

  1. Your hands are not that steady, get a tripod

Yes we know, steady as an oak you are. Except, not really! The reality is, our hands are just not steady enough to create perfect images out on the plains. A sturdy, quality tripod is a landscape photographer’s best and most essential tool. A tripod is ideal in low-light situations or during night photography, as the steadiness allows you to lower the shutter speed without sacrificing ISO, or grain. A tripod is also useful for experimenting with angles and perspective; depending on the landscape, you may choose to photograph shooting up, across, or down to produce a desired effect.

  1. Know your exposure, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

This topic may frighten some who are brand new to photography, but trust us, it’s not only simple to learn, it’s flat out necessary. These are some of the fundamentals of photography, and you’ll want to spend some time playing around with your cameras settings to become familiar with the way they work. You will be happy you did once you start shooting scenes in different settings out there, where weather and lighting can change drastically, and quickly.

Aperture is the size of the lens opening, which lets in light. Shutter speed is the duration of time the lens is open; low-light or long exposures depend on a lower shutter speed to bring in as much light as possible. ISO increases brightness, however, depending on the strength of light, ISO might also add grain. Some photographers use grain to their advantage, but for a crisp image, try not to rely too heavily on ISO to compensate for light. All of these elements lead to exposure, which is the combined light that enters the camera sensor after adjusting aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

  1. Shoot in RAW format.

There are a variety of file formats, the most popular and familiar of which is JPEG. JPEG files automatically compress details, which results in image quality loss. RAW files, however, retain all data and information. While the processing time for RAW files is longer, the resulting images are easier to edit and higher in quality. All DSLR and large format cameras offer RAW as a file format. Advances in smartphone technology means your iPhone or Android can also shoot in RAW, with assistance from camera apps like Lightroom or ProShot.

  1. Prioritize Focus.

Most landscape photography relies on wide shots and a large depth of field to adequately capture the scene. A high aperture, adjusted with the f-stop, allows most of the subject to come into sharp focus. Use the gridlines in your viewfinder or screen to find focus. Begin at either the top or bottom third of the frame, but don’t be afraid to experiment. While there are some examples of landscape photography that prioritize the foreground, resulting in a blurred background (known as a shallow depth of field, or portrait effect), most landscape photography captures the entire scene at once. If you have trouble getting clear focus across the entire frame, it is always possible to take a few shots with different areas of focus then layer them together in Photoshop during the editing process.

  1. Composition, Composition, Composition.

We mentioned earlier that the key to great photos wasn’t having the most expensive or fancy camera, it was having an eye for shooting great scenes. That’s where composition comes into play. Crystal clear, detailed photos can be uninspired without great composition, and photos that aren’t perfect in a technical way, can be amazing with great composition.

An easy tip for beginner landscape photographers is to build your scene around the horizon. Refer to the Rule of Thirds, which is a popular trick for composing perfectly balanced and aesthetically-pleasing photographs. The Rule of Thirds crosses three horizontal lines with three vertical lines. You can set these up through your viewfinder or on the back screen of your camera. The points where those lines meet are the points of interest; place the most dynamic or compelling parts of your subject here. Take care to keep the horizon along that middle horizontal line, and you should have a foolproof formula for a picture-perfect scene. Get creative with your composition, and the possibilities are endless.

  1. Try to find the best lighting.

The best light is soft and diffused, with a dreamy quality to it. True tones pop against that subtle light, which makes natural landscapes look all the more breathtaking. Early mornings before sunrise and late evenings, just before sunset, offer this “golden hour” light that photographer’s chase. When preparing for a shoot, make a note of sunrise and sunset times and plan accordingly. Remember, in life, and photography, patience is a virtue.

  1. But also, the darkness is your friend!

Once the sun goes down, an entirely unique scene emerges. Experiment with long exposure photography to capture shooting stars, light trails left by passing cars, and other natural phenomena. Long exposure builds upon the basics of photography, but requires a few extra tools along with some additional know-how.

In order to take a proper long exposure photograph, set up your tripod and set the frame. If the tripod is in a precarious position, weigh it down with a bag filled with rice, sand, or rocks. Next, you’ll want to set the camera to bulb mode through the DSLR camera settings. Bulb mode manually forces open the shutter past the typical standard of 30 seconds. The longer the shutter is open, the longer the exposure. A remote shutter release or cable release connects to the camera so you don’t physically have to hold down the button to capture the exposure. Once you’re ready, click down to open the shutter and start the photograph. Once you’re done, click down again, and you will have completed a long exposure photograph. Setting your timer will also work to avoid having to hold your shutter button and stay still.

  1. Get creative, shoot more, learn more, and take chances.

The more you shoot, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more creative you will become. That’s the bottom line. Remember why you fell in love with photography to begin with. Always look for creative new angles, subject matter, and perspectives. Photography is one of those arts where the beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. You create what you think is appealing. There is no right and wrong when it comes to creating amazing art, only guidelines to help you along the path.


So, now is the time to go out and shoot. Shoot thousands of photos. Take photos of every single thing you can. Technical know-how is a great thing, but nothing beats the lessons you can learn by simply doing more. Remember this: There is an image worthy of capturing in every single moment we have. It’s up to you to recognize the moment, and capture it. And don’t forget to pack your camera during your next visit to the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental!

6 Fun Family-Friendly Camping Games

Posted by on Jul 9, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on 6 Fun Family-Friendly Camping Games

6 Fun Family-Friendly Camping Games

Camping season is here, and while simply getting out into nature and enjoying the fresh air and break from everyday life may be the ultimate goal, fun activities to do along the way only add to the experience. And for those camping with kids, games and entertainment are crucial elements in a successful outing for all. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of six unique things to do while camping that are perfect for all ages that you can take along for your next trip. And even better, unlike board games, these camping games don’t include small pieces that can get lost at your campsite during the excitement.

  1. Alphabet Hunt. This game is fairly simple and great for younger children that are learning their ABCs. Working together as a group, name an object that is either at your campsite or visible from your campsite that begins with each letter of the alphabet, working your way from A to Z. For example, a for ant, b for blanket, and so on.
  2. Squirt Gun Races. Be sure to pack the squirt guns for this one! To play, set up a line of empty plastic cups along the edge of a picnic table, which each team will then attempt to squirt the cups off of. There are many ways you can play this game, with one being to see who can knock the most cups off in a given amount of time, and another being a race to see who can clear the table of cups the fastest.
  3. Pass the Water. Like squirt gun races, this game is perfect for those hot, sunny days when you are looking for a way to cool off. Divide your crew into teams and have the teams stand in a line, one behind the other. Each person in the team gets a cup, with the person in the front receiving a cup full of water and everyone behind them getting empty cups. The first person then takes their cup of water, reaches it up and over their head, and pours it into the cup of the person behind them without turning around. If the last person in line has water in their cup, they then go to the front of the line and the process starts over. The last team with water wins.
  4. Catch or Don’t Catch. For this game, all you need is a ball of any size. Everyone stands in a circle except for one person who is in the middle with the ball. That player goes around the circle instructing others to “catch” or “don’t catch” and throwing the ball. If a player catches the ball when told not to, or the other way around, that player is out. This is a fast-paced game that is great for engaging all ages!
  5. Two Truths and a Lie. This one is a classic, with each player sharing three items of information about themselves – two of which are true, and one which is not. For example, “I know how to play the guitar, I’ve been to 42 states, and I can eat a whole bag of marshmallows in one sitting.” Each player then tries to guess which one is not true, and receives a point if they are correct. After each person has stated their ‘facts’, the person with the most points wins.
  6. Flashlight Tag. Keep the fun going once it gets dark! In this game, a person is chosen to be “it” and given a flashlight. They then attempt to “tag” another player with the light of the flashlight. This game is a great way to get out some energy before bedtime!

Take part in these fun camping games during your next visit to the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental! We offer camping sites nestled in the beautiful Nebraska Sandhills, call us today at (308) 546-2206 to make a reservation!

Fun Facts About Nebraska

Posted by on Jun 4, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Fun Facts About Nebraska

Fun Facts About Nebraska

Whether you make an annual family trip or are planning on visiting Nebraska for the very first time, you may not know some of the fascinating facts and history about our great state. For instance, did you know that Nebraska used to called the “Tree Planter’s State” before it was renamed the “Cornhusker State”? Read on to learn more about the beautiful Nebraska Sandhills and beyond!

Pioneers of Nebraska

There have been many inventions and discoveries made right here in Nebraska that have changed the lives of those all over the world, including:

  • The biggest mammoth fossils ever discovered were found in Lincoln County.
  • Charles Lindberg, the first person who flew nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean, learned to fly in Lincoln, NE.
  • The 911 emergency system was created and first used in Lincoln.
  • Kool-Aid was invented in 1927 by Edwin Perkins in Hastings, NE, and it has since become the official soft drink of Nebraska. Each year, Hastings celebrates the beverage during the second weekend of August with “Kool-Aid Days”, which contains festivities for all ages.
  • The strobe light was invented by Dr. Harold Edgerton of Aurora, NE.

The Great Outdoors of Nebraska

Our beautiful state is home to many extraordinary natural occurrences, such as:

  • The largest grass-covered sand dunes in the Western Hemisphere, which cover about ¼ of Nebraska. The only areas in the world that have bigger areas of sand are the Sahara and Arabian deserts.
  • The Niobrara River is one of the top canoeing rivers in the country and contains more than 90 waterfalls.
  • Nebraska has more underground water than any other state. This is due to the High Plains Aquifer being located beneath Nebraska, consisting of a layer of rocks and other materials that are filled with water.
  • Halsey National Forest, located near Thedford, NE, is the world’s largest hand-planted forest.
  • Four historical trails cross Nebraska: the Oregon Trail, the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Mormon Trail and the Pony Express.
  • European settlers dubbed Nebraska the “Great American Desert”, however, it is one of the top farming areas in the world.

Famous People from Nebraska

From sports stars to legends of the silver screen, Nebraska has been home to those known all around the world, including:

  • Fred Astaire, from Omaha, NE
  • Marlon Brando, from Omaha, NE
  • Puppeteer Bil Baird, from Grand Island, NE
  • James Coburn, from Laurel, NE
  • Gerald Ford, from Omaha, NE
  • The voice behind Kellogg Frosted Flakes for over 35 years, Thurl Ravenscroft, is from Norfolk.
  • Grover Cleveland Alexander, from Saint Paul, NE
  • Nick Nolte, from Omaha, NE

Wacky Facts

Like every other U.S. state, Nebraska has its share of unusual places, customs and laws, such as:

  • It’s illegal to go whale fishing in Nebraska. We hope that doesn’t change too many summer plans!
  • The Reuben sandwich was invented in Nebraska.
  • In Nebraska, it is illegal for a mother to perm her daughter’s hair without a state license.
  • Sneezing or burping during a church service is illegal in Omaha.
  • Chevyland USA, located near Elm Creek, NE, is the only museum in the world that is dedicated to a single line of cars.
  • Although Nebraska is nowhere near an ocean, there is a lighthouse located along the road in Ashland.
  • In Nebraska, it is illegal for owners of a bar to sell beer unless they are also simultaneously brewing soup.

Nebraska: Home to Big Things

As the 16th largest state in the U.S., Nebraska has plenty of room for some large endeavors, including:

  • The largest jewelry store in the nation, Borsheims, is located in Omaha.
  • The biggest collection of elephant skeletons in the world is housed at Elephant Hall in Lincoln.
  • Hastings is home to the largest U.S. ammunition plant, which produced about 40% of WWII’s ammunition.

We hope these fun Nebraska facts have inspired you for your summer vacation! While you’re here, enjoy the convenience of being centrally located to tons of outdoor recreation, entertainment, and Nebraska history by staying here at the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental. We’re proud to be locally owned and located in Nebraska, and can’t wait to share with you the beauty of our state!


Things to Do and Places to Eat in Mullen, NE

Posted by on May 3, 2019 in Blog, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Things to Do and Places to Eat in Mullen, NE

Things to Do and Places to Eat in Mullen, NE

From practicing your drive at Mullen’s public golf course to savoring a mouthwatering meal at one of the local eateries, great fun and tasty food is never far during your stay at the Sandhills Motel! Take a look at some of the attractions and places to eat in Mullen, NE, and add them to your list of places to visit during your stay.

Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway

A trip to Nebraska isn’t complete without taking a cruise along the Sandhills Journey Byway, a 272-mile stretch that includes plenty of scenic views, historical stops, entertainment, outdoor recreation and much more along the way! Head over to the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway’s website to learn more and to plan your adventure.

Hooker County Historical Museum

Learn about the rich history of the Mullen area with a tour of the Hooker County Historical Museum. Tours are offered by appointment, and are given by the Hooker County Historical Society, which was established in 1969. The museum offers three floors full of historical artifacts and stories of those that once inhabited this region. Give them a call at (308) 546-2453 to book your tour!

Chuckwagon ‘n Jug
Craving a big, juicy burger? If so, this is the stop to take! The Chuckwagon ‘n Jug, located at 201 South Lincoln Avenue in Mullen, grinds fresh beef daily to make burgers that people come back for again and again. Their hearty dishes and friendly atmosphere are sure to make for a meal to remember. Check out their Facebook to learn more about their menu and specials!

Mullen Golf Club

Located west of Mullen, the Mullen Golf Club is open seven days a week for public use. You’ll have the choice of playing 9 holes or 18 holes, all on greens that are in great condition. Get out and enjoy a day of golf during your Nebraska vacation! The Mullen Golf Club is located at West Highway 2, Mullen, Nebraska 69152, and can be reached at (308) 546-2445.

Hondo Lanes Bowling Alley

Start a little friendly competition with your group at Mullen’s Hondo Lanes Bowling Alley, located at 202 South Washington Avenue, Suite 2. A leisurely game will allow plenty of fun heading into the evening hours, and is a great way to round out a day out with the family. For more information, call Hondo Lanes at (308) 546-2417.

Mullen Disc Golf Course

If you haven’t yet tried disc golf, which has been gaining in popularity in recent years, give it a try during your vacation at Mullen’s own 7-hole disc golf course! The course is located at Mullen High School, which also contains basketball and tennis courts, as well as a nature trail. Learn more about disc golf, and then head over to 404 Blaine Avenue in Mullen to check it out for yourself!

Red’s Café and Bar

From a delicious breakfast in the morning to ice cold beers in the evening, Red’s, located at 404 SW 1st Street in Mullen, is the perfect stop to fill up and refresh in Mullen. Give one of their popular menu items, the chicken fried steak, a try! Call Red’s Café and Bar at (308) 546-2270 if you have questions about your visit.

Of course, a visit to the Sandhills Motel, especially during the warmer months, isn’t complete without taking part in a river adventure down the Middle Loup or Dismal River! We provide the kayak, canoe or tank, as well as the equipment you need, so you can relax and enjoy the fun.

Contact us today to book your next Nebraska adventure!

The Ins and Outs of Tanking

Posted by on Apr 5, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on The Ins and Outs of Tanking

The Ins and Outs of Tanking

Warm, sunny days here in Nebraska beg to be spent floating lazily down the river, with something cold to drink close at hand and great company to share in the views, so it’s no wonder that tanking has become a regional activity that is loved by those of all ages. Not familiar with what “tanking” means? Well, we’re here to let you in on our state secret and get you hooked on the tanking life!

Rumor has it that tanking originated in the Sandhills area, when a bored farmer threw a couple of lawn chairs into a stock tank and went for an impromptu journey down the river. Today, the same common piece of ranching equipment is used in the activity, allowing three to six people to cruise down the river at a time. The tanks, which measure seven to nine feet across, are practically unsinkable, making a tanking trip perfect for those seeking a dry, relaxing ride.

Still not sold on the whole tanking idea? Tanks are spacious, so there are plenty of places to lounge, and they are easy to get in and out of. Some tanks are outfitted with picnic tables, allowing you to play a hand of cards or a board game, eat lunch… the possibilities are endless. With enough room to pack a cooler, you can also indulge in some ice cold beers while you chat with your crew. Tanking requires almost no need to paddle, and the tanks move relatively slowly, leaving you time to take photos and videos, and really enjoy the quality time with your friends and family.

Here at the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental, we offer two options for stock tank trips: a two hour ride, or an excursion lasting five to six hours.  We also provide all of the tanking equipment you’ll need, including life jackets. All you’ll need to be sure to bring are some snacks, drinks, games and your nearest and dearest! We also offer kayak and canoe river adventures, giving you some fun options for your next Nebraska vacation.

Fans of tanking should also be sure to keep an eye out in early March, when the Polar Bear Tank Race is held. In this timed event, teams of four to six race down the Middle Loup River for the chance to win prizes. Teams are encouraged to be creative in choosing a team name and theme, as well as decorate their tank and themselves according to their chosen theme. This annual event grows each year, and proceeds go to benefit the Sandhills Scenic Journey Byway.

For fantastic kayaking, canoeing and tanking in Nebraska, turn to the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental and make your next vacation a memorable one. Call us today at (308) 546-2206 to book your adventure!

Funny and Unique Polar Bear Tank Race Theme Ideas

Posted by on Feb 21, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Funny and Unique Polar Bear Tank Race Theme Ideas

Funny and Unique Polar Bear Tank Race Theme Ideas

Are you dreaming of summer and warmer weather yet? Don’t worry, the change of seasons is on its way! We have found a way that you can beat those winter blues away, and that’s by joining us for the 12th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race. Put a team together and register today because space is limited for this fun race down the Middle Loup River to benefit the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway.

As if this event wasn’t fun enough yet, teams can pick a theme to decorate the tanks with and race down the river. Have fun and let your imagination flow with this one.  If you just can’t think of anything and need some help picking out some ideas, here are some suggestions that you can use, or maybe they will spark some original ideas of your own!

  • Arrrguably the best theme yet – Make your tank into one of the fastest tanks to ever race the seven seas with this pirate theme. You and your shipmates can dress the part with eye patches, fake peg legs, and plastic swords. Make your tank the most feared by decorating it like a pirate ship with its own mast, sails, even a crow’s nest, and maybe a few cannons. Hoist the sails and get to sailing with this idea.


  • Do you feel lucky – Maybe the luck of the Irish is with you on this St. Patrick’s Day themed tank. Have fun with this one as you and your team dress up as leprechauns, with green top hats and red beards, or simply adorn yourself in your greenest attire. Or celebrate St. Patrick’s Day early as you float down the Middle Loup as a pot of gold, with your team dressed up as gold coins as you race to the rainbow at the finish line.


  • Summer Dreaming – Can’t wait for summer? Throw your very own beach party as you and your team don Hawaiian shirts, shorts, flip flops, and leis. Bring out the beach toys and set up the limbo bar, while you decorate the tank with tiki torches. Make the tank into a massive surf board and shred those waves, which is sure to score a perfect ten with the judges.


  • Hold’em at bay – What’s better than an old western tank straight out of your favorite western movie? Dress up as cowboys, complete with cowboys hats and holsters. Gather your team around a poker table and play a few hands as you float down the river, and make sure to show the other teams your poker faces as you pass them by.


  • Groovy man- You’re sure to turn heads as you float on by in this 60’s themed tank. Break out those tie dye shirts and groovy bell bottoms! Play the part as you let your long hear wig blow in the breeze, and don’t forget the cool sun-glasses. Decorate the tank with peace symbols and pieces of tie dyed fabric.


  • Duck hunt- Make that tank into the hunting blind, all decked out with a camo theme. Or drag the decoys behind you as you decorate the tank to resemble a large duck. Dress up in your hunting gear and make sure to wear your orange so we can see you!


  • You’ll win an Oscar- Choose any of your favorite funny movies with this film based theme tank. Dress the gang as Super Troopers, along with fake moustaches and ray bans. Perhaps your favorite movie is Animal House? Dress the team up from the iconic scene and get ready to have your own toga party as you float headlong down the river.

All decorations must be attached while you are racing down the river. Team members must all be 21 years of age or older, and all teams must have a minimum of four participants. Registration is $200 a person and includes:

  • One race tank per team
  • One life jacket, paddle, and Polar Bear Tank Race t-shirt for each participant
  • Two nights of accommodations (double occupancy) on March 1-2 in Thedford or Mullen
  • Welcome reception and soup cook-off
  • Breakfast before the race
  • Polar Bear Tank Race
  • Lunch following the Race
  • Polar Bear Tank Race Awards Banquet – prime rib dinner
  • Team trophies for the top 3 men’s and women’s teams

Register today and make plans to join us and beat those winter blues away! After you register, make sure to contact us for more information on staying at The Sandhills Motel, or you can give us a call at (308) 546-2206 to book your stay. We look forward to yet another action-packed Polar Bear Tank Race!

Join this year’s Annual Polar Bear Tank Race to benefit the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway

Posted by on Feb 1, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Join this year’s Annual Polar Bear Tank Race to benefit the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway

Join this year’s Annual Polar Bear Tank Race to benefit the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway

It’s time to dust off that tank, break out those oars, and work on those paddling skills, because we have found the perfect solution to cabin fever! Come celebrate this year’s Polar Bear Tank Race and see if you are brave enough to battle the cold while taking on your opponents in some exciting tank racing. This is a timed event, as teams of 4-6 people race down the Middle Loup River north of Mullen, NE in metal stock tanks. If you just want to forgo the race and enjoy a relaxing float down the river, you can do that also.

Make sure to bring along decorations for your tank, because prizes will also be awarded for themes and tank decorations, so let that artistic side flow like Nebraska’s Middle Loup River.

Registration is on a first come, first serve basis and race capacity is limited, so please register as soon as possible. This year’s race will be held on March 2, 2019, with registration and a soup cook-off kicking off festivities on March 1, 2019.

Registration Information:

  • Must be 21 to enter
  • There is a non-refundable $200 registration fee per person
  • A minimum of four people are required for each tank racing team
  • When registering your team, please submit a team name. If a name is not submitted, the team name will be the last name of the team captain or registrant.

Registration Includes:

  • One racing tank per team
  • One life jacket, paddle, and Polar Bear Tank Race t-shirt for each participant
  • Two nights of accommodations (double occupancy) on March 1-2 in Thedford or Mullen
  • Welcome reception and soup cook-off
  • Breakfast before the race
  • Polar Bear Tank Race
  • Lunch following the race
  • Polar Bear Tank Race Awards Banquet – prime rib dinner
  • Team trophies for the top 3 men’s and women’s teams

Once your registration is received, you will be sent a complete informational packet that includes maps, lodging details and a complete schedule of events.

2019 Polar Bear Tank Race Agenda:

(All times – Mountain Time)

Friday, March 1st

  • 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Registration of Teams & Welcome Reception

Location: Mullen Event Center, fairgrounds west of Mullen on the north side of Highway 2.

You must attend the registration and the welcome reception in order to be a qualified racing team.

  • 5:00 p.m.

Soup Cook-Off

Various soups from Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway Communities will be available to sample.

Directly after the soup cook-off, there will be a drawing to determine race departure times.

Saturday, March 2nd

  • 8:00 a.m.

Meet in Mullen for Breakfast

Location: Mullen Event Center

After breakfast, transportation will be provided to the launch site on the Middle Loup River.

  • 9:00 a.m.

First Bus Leaves Mullen, Race Begins

The tanks will be launched in short intervals according to the draw order.

Transportation is conveniently provided for travel from the finish line back to the Mullen Event Center.

  • 5:00 p.m.

12th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race Awards Banquet

Location: Mullen Event Center

So, get the gang together, and make plans to attend the 12th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race, the ultimate cure to cabin fever!

Kick Start Your New Year’s Resolutions at the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental

Posted by on Jan 8, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Kick Start Your New Year’s Resolutions at the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental

Kick Start Your New Year’s Resolutions at the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental

With the holidays behind us for another year, many are now focused on bettering themselves in 2019 and have made a New Year’s resolution list filled with personal goals. Everyone’s list varies a bit, but one thing that seems to unite us all is the fact that the list tends to be put on the backburner by the end of January. Despite our best intentions, life happens and adding more to your plate in the form of goals can leave you feeling overwhelmed.

However, working towards your goals doesn’t have to be a chore, and we’re here to let you in on how you can complete your resolutions right here at the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental. Read on to learn how a visit can help you reach some of the more commonly made resolutions.

Try Something New

If you feel that your adventurous side could use some rekindling, a tanking adventure or a trip down the Dismal or Middle Loup Rivers in a kayak or canoe could very well be the answer.  Whether you’re after a wild ride through the waters or a relaxing trip floating down the river, we can help you find the river adventure that is perfect for you. And we make it easy for those new to canoeing and kayaking by providing all of the equipment needed, all of the highest quality and well-maintained.

Save Money

Did you break the bank trying to get everyone on your “nice” list exactly what they wanted, and now you have no idea how you’re going to afford a family vacation? Don’t fret! Staying at the Sandhills Motel is inexpensive, and you won’t blow your budget renting the equipment you need to provide a fun-filled vacation for your loved ones. Keep the money you saved and start a rainy day fund!

Get Closer to Nature

From our annual Grassland Dance to the wildlife that can be viewed during your river adventure, there are plenty of ways you can complete your resolution of embracing nature in 2019 right here at the Sandhills Motel. In addition to our motel rooms, we also offer tent camping sites that allow you to get a taste of living off the grid while still allowing you close proximity to the amenities you need to be comfortable.

Exercise More

What could be better than fitting in a workout that benefits your body while also being enjoyable? Paddling down the river in a kayak or canoe burns an astonishing 400 calories an hour and is a low-impact workout, ideal for those that need a way to exercise that is easy on joints.

For a vacation that suits your needs and helps you knock out your New Year’s resolutions, visit the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental! Contact us today to reserve your stay!

5 Benefits of Bird Watching

Posted by on Nov 27, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on 5 Benefits of Bird Watching

5 Benefits of Bird Watching

If you consider yourself a bird watching aficionado, you may already know the many benefits of taking part in this pastime, which has been steadily increasing in popularity in recent years. But those that have just begun to take part in birding, or are interested in learning more about the hobby, may be surprised to learn that bird watching has quite a few physical, mental and social advantages. Here in the Nebraska Sandhills, we are lucky enough to witness the millions of birds that make their journey across the state each year, and are here to share with you five ways you can reap the benefits from joining in on this enriching activity.

  1. Get closer to nature. Not only can you observe birds in their natural habitats, but you can also breathe in the fresh air, soak up the sun’s rays, and appreciate all of the things that make being outdoors so great.
  2. Improve cardiovascular health. Many may be shocked to learn that birding can count as a workout. But often, locations that offer the best opportunities for bird watching are located off of the beaten path and require a bit of a hike in order to reach. Getting your blood pumping with a moderately-paced walk is a great way to keep your heart healthy, and by taking part in an activity you enjoy, you won’t even notice you’re getting in a workout.
  3. Hone patience skills. The payoff of bird watching isn’t always immediate, and usually requires time spent waiting for the much anticipated glimpse of the birds you’re seeking. Refining your patience skills isn’t only a practice that will improve your mental well-being, but also has physical health benefits. A 2007 study found that people that are more patient are less likely to experience headaches, ulcers, pneumonia, acne and other health problems.
  4. Obtain quicker reflexes. After a lengthy wait, a bird watcher has to be ready at any given second to grab their binoculars or camera to bask in and capture that long-awaited moment. Every birding opportunity gives you the chance to exercise your reflex speed, as well as improve upon it. Having fast reflexes not only allows you to be a successful bird watcher, but will prevent a barrage of small disasters from happening in your day-to-day life and help you better thwart off danger.
  5. Become part of a community. Many bird watching trips take place with groups of people, and the act of coming together in this common interest can do wonders in building life-long friendships and fostering a sense of community. There are also many online groups where members can swap birding tips and share their experiences, allowing bird watchers all over the world to connect with one another.

If you’re ready to experience all of the ways that bird watching can enhance your life, book a viewing at the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental. We are centrally located to some of the best Nebraska Sandhills birding locations, and offer comfortable accommodations for your stay.