Fall Sights to see in Mullen, NE and around the Nebraska Sandhills

Posted by on Oct 22, 2021 in Blog | Comments Off on Fall Sights to see in Mullen, NE and around the Nebraska Sandhills

Fall Sights to see in Mullen, NE and around the Nebraska Sandhills

While the fall season means saying goodbye to tanking adventures down the river, we still look forward to the beauty of the changing season year after year. In the Sandhills of Nebraska, fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year and the perfect opportunity to visit your friends in Mullen! Take a look at some of our favorite fall activities, and revel in the beauty of the autumn colors at the various scenic locations through the area.

Although the warm weather is gone, the fun doesn’t have to stop. So plan your next fall trip to Mullen Nebraska, and add these recommendations to your to-do list!

Hondo Lanes Bowling Alley

As the evenings get colder we often venture indoors at night, but that doesn’t have to mean sitting on the couch at home! Located on 202 South Washington Avenue, the Hondo Lanes Bowling Alley is great fun for people of any age. Enjoy some food and drinks while competing in a friendly game the whole family will love!

Nebraska National Forest Bessey Ranger District

With over 90,000 acres of public land and three campgrounds, the Nebraska Sandhills offers ample recreational opportunities. Enjoy the beautiful fall foliage while ATV riding, hunting, hiking, fishing, and more! The three campgrounds are open to the public year-round and are a beautiful place to relax and unwind after a busy summer. Check out this blog to learn more about the Bessey Ranger district.

Dismal River Club

Established in 2006, Dismal River Club attracts golfers from all across the globe to the hills of western Nebraska. Joel Jacobs, a native of Mullen decided to expand the club in 2017 to include hunting, fishing, and a wide array of outdoor excursions.  In addition to world-class golf, the club also features five-star dining. With two 18 hole golf courses, and a wide variety of hunting and fishing packages, the Dismal River Club is a must see on your next trip to the Nebraska Sandhills.

Visit a Pumpkin Patch

Nothing screams fall like a visit to a Pumpkin Patch.  Lucky for you, there are tons of pumpkin patched around Nebraska for you and your family to enjoy. Vala’s Pumpkin Patch located in Gretna, Nebraska, is one of the most famous with over 55 acres of pumpkins planted every year! From caramel apples, to hayrides, apple picking, corn mazes, and more, a pumpkin patch is a great way to spend time with family and welcome the fall season. Learn more!

Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway

Our favorite thing about fall is watching the leaves on the trees change and fall. The Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway is considered one of America’s 10 most beautiful highways. Extending from Grand Island to Alliance, Hooker County lies in the middle of the highway’s two portal cities. So, gas up the car, buy some road trip snacks and settle in for a beautiful drive. Watch the leaves on the trees turn into beautiful shades of red and yellow, and keep your eye out for the many species of birds that migrate through the area. The Scenic Byway is a relaxing easy way to experience nature’s beauty from the comfort of your car.

Whatever you’re into, the Nebraska Sandhills have something for everyone!

Stargazing in the Nebraska Sandhills

Posted by on May 18, 2021 in Blog | Comments Off on Stargazing in the Nebraska Sandhills

Stargazing in the Nebraska Sandhills

Nebraska may not be for everyone, but is definitely the place to be if you’re the type of person who loves a good ‘ole stargazing excursion with your friends, family, significant other, or whomever you choose to enjoy staring at the stars with. Picture this: wide open spaces with visibility for miles and miles across the majestic, rolling Nebraska Sandhills. Void of the typical light pollution you see in densely populated areas, Nebraska’s spread out population and towns make for the optimal place to pay tribute to the celestial beauty of the night sky.

Whether you’re a stargazing aficionado or a rookie, anybody can find enjoyment in a calm, relaxing evening admiring twinkling lights and the occasional burst of fire across the sky. To help you best prepare for a future Nebraska stargazing adventure, we’ve put together a few of our favorite tips and suggestions to share with you.

When in doubt, pack warm clothes

Even on the warmest of days, there’s no telling how cold the weather will get at night. Plus, who doesn’t love feeling cozy wrapped in a blanket or sweatshirt. We also strongly encourage packing warm blankets that can get dirty, just in case you want to stargaze on the ground.

Pack bug spray

If there’s anything to know about the state of Nebraska, it’s that the weather here tends to remain quite humid. With humidity comes mosquitoes. To keep yourself safe from mosquitoes, we strongly encourage you to pack bug spray before you head on a stargazing adventure. Additionally, it’s always a great choice to wear long pants so you can avoid the chance of ticks latching onto you should your adventure take you into tall grass.

Stargazing is a year-round pastime in Nebraska

Sometimes people ask if there is a best time of year to stargaze in the Sandhills. Truthfully, any time of the year is great for stargazing in the Sandhills so long as you have clear skies and are in the right place. From planetary conjunctions in the winter to meteor showers in the middle of spring and late summer, you’re almost guaranteed to witness something spectacular in the sky on any given clear night. To learn more about some of the most exciting celestial events to appear in the Nebraska skies in 2021, we encourage you to take a peek at this great article.

If you’re really looking to get down with the stars, Nebraska even has a Star Party every year!

For those seasoned stargazers looking to celebrate the serene brilliance of the Nebraskan night sky, the Nebraska Star Party is held annually at Merritt Reservoir’s Snake Campground. Set to take place August 1-6 in 2021, Merritt Reservoir is just under an hour away from Sandhills Motel & Glidden Canoe Rental. The perfect area to admire the starry sky without light pollution, the Nebraska Star Party is an unforgettable festivity for all who attend. If camping isn’t your thing, we know a great place for you to stay when you’re in the area. 😉

Plan for fast changes in weather

If you’re familiar with the weather in Nebraska, then you’ll already know that it can change at the flip of a dime. Be prepared for the possibility of rapidly-changing weather conditions. It’s always a great choice to pack an umbrella, window scraper, jacket, or boots just in case.

Check the weather in the week leading up to your adventure

Spend time checking the weather in the days and hours leading up to your stargazing adventure! There’s no worse feeling than planning a trip, arriving, and realizing you won’t be able to see the stars because it’s cloudy/stormy/what have you. Again, the weather can change in a blink of the eye, so be sure to be aware of what’s to come and have faith that your time here will provide the best viewing opportunities. May the stars align for you!

Do your research before you head out

In the age of digital technology, you wouldn’t believe the fantastic resources that exist for stargazers. Whether you’re wanting to find out what you can expect to see in the sky on any given night or want to know the exact constellations and stars above you, there are plenty of resources on the internet from websites to mobile apps to help you out. (Also, don’t forget to learn the distinction between a plane, satellite, and star)

No telescope needed (unless you want to get cozy with the stars)

Thanks to the lack of light pollution across the vast majority of the Sandhills, you’ll be able to get a clear view of the starry sky on a clear night. If you’re looking to get up close and personal with the constellations above you, however, it never hurts to pack your telescope. While we can definitely offer some advice on where the best places to see the stars are, we are certainly not telescope experts – so practice before you come.

Have fun

Stargazing is as fun as it is soothing for the soul. With the right friends, equipment, snacks and drinks, you’re certain to have an incredible time stargazing here in the Sandhills. We hope you’ll come share your stories with us when you’re done, too.

To start planning your Sandhills stargazing adventure, make sure Sandhills Motel is at the top of your list for lodging. We even have canoe, kayak, and tank rentals for you to enjoy in the daytime, too. There’s truly no shortage of fun at Sandhills Motel. We hope you’ll come see us soon!

Nebraska Vacation: Your Guide to Summer Fun in Mullen, NE

Posted by on Apr 17, 2021 in Blog | Comments Off on Nebraska Vacation: Your Guide to Summer Fun in Mullen, NE

Nebraska Vacation: Your Guide to Summer Fun in Mullen, NE

Summer is on its way and we can’t stop thinking about the joy it will bring as we welcome familiar faces and new friends to Sandhills Motel & Glidden Canoe Rental in the coming months. With stunning scenery, friendly people, and a desire to provide certain relaxation and adventure for all who come to our area, we’re getting more excited with every minute that passes us! Who knows what amazing things you’ll find on your next Nebraska Vacation!

Planning your next Nebraska Vacation

Maybe you’re coming for the Sandhills or maybe you’re coming for a chance to see family and friends. Whatever the reason may be, we hope you make the most of your time in our corner of paradise.

By trade, our specialty is providing quality lodging accommodations and canoe/kayak/tank rentals, but we’re also the resident experts of fun here at Sandhills Motel & Glidden Canoe Rental. No matter who you brought with you on your trip, there’s something for everybody. Don’t believe us? Check out our guide to fun in the Mullen area below!

Fun for the Family:

Did somebody say ‘family vacay’?! We’ve got so much fun going on here in Mullen that your kids will never want to leave. On those hot summer days that we know oh so well here in Nebraska, a trip to the Mullen Swimming Pool is the perfect way to cool off – or, if you’re feeling adventurous, a trip to the river is always fun too! Life moves so fast with practice, games, school, and what have you, so a trip to Mullen is the perfect means to take a needed couple steps back from the hecticness of your day-to-day life. Whether your kids are toddlers or grown up, you’ll find fun waiting for you once you get here.

Fun for the Squad:

Grab your besties, your gal pals, or your squad and get a move on to Mullen. You’re going to want to bring a cooler, some fun beverages and snacks for this one. There’s no Mullen experience more authentic than that of spending your time on a tanking adventure. Float to your heart’s content down a river, enjoy the camaraderie of friendship, and simplicity of life all in the span of 1-3 hours. After an amazing day in the sweltering heat of summer, you’ll love falling into bed at the Sandhills Motel. After you’re recharged, a trip to Red’s or Chuckwagon n’ Jug is always the perfect way to end an amazing day.

Fun for the Bucket-Lister:

While Nebraska doesn’t have the largest ball of twine in the world, we’ve got some pretty awesome sights to see and fun to be had. If you’re heading eastbound on the Sandhills Journey National Byway, make sure to stop by Carhenge just outside of Alliance. If you’re an avid birdwatcher, pack your binoculars and plan for a trip of a lifetime! Our flying friends are plentiful in Nebraska.

Fun for short day trips to the area:

For a small town, Mullen is pretty jam-packed with fun things to do, so you could spend days taking in the bountiful assortment of fun activities, but for those with limited time, we strongly recommend going on a Tanking adventure. This one goes without saying if you’re familiar with the area, but if you haven’t tanked before, you’re missing out in life. (More here!)

Nebraska Landscape

Fun for those looking to go off the grid:

In the digital age, we can’t blame you for wanting to spend some time away from technology. Fortunately for you, Mullen and the surrounding areas offer ample opportunities to disconnect and enjoy the serene beauty from the world around you. We strongly recommend a trip to the Bessey Ranger District. Here, you’ll find fun opportunities to hike, horseback ride, fish, explore, and, most importantly, time to enjoy the company of others or one’s self without the omnipresent noise of technology. But if time outdoors isn’t your thing, you could always spend some time cruising the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway! (Just don’t forget to fill up on gas before you go.)

Mullen, Nebraska: Unofficially the best small town in the United States (Every reason you need to visit)

Posted by on Mar 11, 2021 in Blog | Comments Off on Mullen, Nebraska: Unofficially the best small town in the United States (Every reason you need to visit)

Mullen, Nebraska: Unofficially the best small town in the United States (Every reason you need to visit)

It’s hard to believe that March is already here! The days are growing longer, the weather is getting warmer, and our urge to get back on the road again is stronger than ever before after sitting idle for the last 12 months. With so many places to visit and so many things to do as we return to normal, there has never been a greater moment than this to get out and see the world around us. And while we completely understand that a town with a population of slightly more than 350 residents in central Nebraska may not be at the very top of your must-see destination list, we’re here to wholeheartedly convince you to come see us here in Mullen, Nebraska.

Think of this as an ice breaker – you can get to know a little bit about us and we’ll get to know a bit about you once you realize that Mullen is as iconic as the Sandhills that surround us.

For starters, Mullen may quite literally be the most quaint, relaxing town you’ll ever visit. Some even say we’re the most peaceful small town in America – just ask Joe and Pam! (To be clear, we don’t know a Joe and Pam, but you get the point) After a tumultuous year of unexpected twists and turns, finding somewhere to spend some time in that’ll bring you back down to earth may be exactly what you need as we all look to recalibrate our lives.

With Midwestern hospitality exuding from every nook and cranny around town, Mullen simply does ‘peopling’ right. We welcome newcomers with open arms and open hearts. Eager to share advice on the best places to go, you’ll feel comfortable walking up to any resident you see on the street, here. And while our people are pretty darn great, there is also something to be said about the unique assortment of businesses to visit around town. From delicious food at Red’s to fun times at Lucy’s variety store, you’re bound to leave town with a new recipe, unique souvenir, and some amazing memories. Looking to learn about the history of Mullen and the surrounding area? Stop by the Hooker County Historical Museum!

We’ve got the best lodging around

But where are you supposed to stay after a long day of poking around town and the surrounding area? Sandhills Motel, of course! Cornering the lodging market here in Hooker County, Sandhills Motel & Glidden Canoe Rental offers comfortable lodging accommodations at comfortable prices. You can click here to check out our current rates! With great lodging, people, food, and businesses, could Mullen get any better? (Yes. Yes it can!)

There’s so much to do here!

As much as we love the town of Mullen itself, we can’t forget to mentioned the stunning scenery that envelopes our town. Whether you’re cruising the scenic Sandhills byway or spending the day floating down the Middle Loup River, the fun doesn’t just stop in Mullen. The fun is here and all around us.

From ice fishing to horseback riding to tanking, the Nebraska Sandhills are your playground and can be seen for miles in every which direction. Not sure what outdoor activities await you? Take a gander through our past blog articles or explore our website to learn more about the variety of sites and attractions that you have to visit. If the outdoors aren’t really your thing, Hondo Lanes is also a great option for some bowling fun with your friends and family. In short, there really is something for everybody, here!

We’d love for you to come see us!

While we’re sure we could easily write thousands of words on why Mullen deserves to be a part of your NE travel plans, we’ll let this article speak for itself. No matter where you’re coming from, know that we’d be delighted to have you here at the Sandhills Motel. See you soon!

Birds of Nebraska: Our Favorite Species

Posted by on Feb 9, 2021 in Blog | Comments Off on Birds of Nebraska: Our Favorite Species

Birds of Nebraska: Our Favorite Species

It’s National Bird Feeding Month, which could only mean one thing: it’s time to talk about the beautiful bird species that call Nebraska home! At a glance, many people come to Nebraska for the Sandhills, unmistakable midwestern hospitality, and the allure of enjoying a life of comfort and comfort, but many fail to recognize just how diverse Nebraska’s bird species are. Home to over 465 species of birds, it’s hard to imagine Nebraska without its beautiful birds! From epic events like the annual Sandhill Crane Migration to the unforgettable grassland dances of Sharp-Tailed Grouse and Prairie Chicken, it can be a bit hard to keep all of our flying friends in line

To help paint a picture of just how diverse Nebraska’s birds are, we’re here to highlight some of our favorites.

Sandhill Crane: It’s hard to picture highlighting our favorite birds without starting off with the Sandhill Crane. One of the largest cranes you’ll find in North America, Sandhill Cranes are gorgeous creatures known for their yearly pilgrimage to the Platte River Valley for yearly breeding. Known for migrating in large packs, Sandhill Cranes will blow your mind with their distinct size and sheer beauty when you see packs in the thousands of birds all coming together for the same purpose before they migrate for the winter season.

Western Meadowlark: The state bird of Nebraska, Western Meadowlarks are songstresses if we’ve ever heard them. With a rich chirp and range of songs, the Western Meadowlark belongs to the Blackbirds and Orioles family and are extremely common throughout Nebraska. Often found in grasslands, you’ll be able to easily spot these birds due to their yellow and black underbelly, with complementary brown plumage on its back. Make sure to take a photo of a Western Meadowlark on your next Nebraska birdwatching adventure to commemorate its significance to the state.

Warblers: If you have an affinity for Warblers, Nebraska is the perfect place to visit. With Warbler species ranging from Pine Warblers to Magnolia Warblers to Kentucky Warblers, you’ll be warbling in excitement when you see these stunning birds, commonly known for their yellow underbelly. Dazzling bird watchers with their vibrant plumage, the best place to find Nebraska’s various species of warblers is on the eastern side of the state during the spring before they migrate east!

Belted Kingfisher: If you’re looking for some edgy hairstyle inspiration, the Belted Kingfisher is for you! A fairly common bird across Nebraska, Belted Kingfishers are stunning for their plumage alone, boasting beautiful blue, white, and orange feathers with a distinct mohawk-looking hairdo. Often found near lakes and water sources, Belted Kingfishers are described to have wild rattling calls that will quickly catch your attention.

Burrowing Owl: Most common in Western and Central Nebraska, you’ll be hooting for joy when you catch a glimpse of Burrowing Owls in the wild. Known for being active during the day and night, Burrowing Owls are gorgeous with their white and brown plumage.  While they are becoming more endangered as their traditional food sources are continuously dwindling, conservation efforts are in place to conserve this iconic species of owl.

Prairie Falcon: What would our list of favorite birds in Nebraska be without mentioning the Prairie Falcon? Mainly common throughout the western half of Nebraska during the winter, the Prairie Falcon is a tactical beast when it comes to hunting, soaring across fields at speeds that’ll make your jaw drop. Often found on the prairie, farmland, and around lakes in Nebraska, you’ll know a Prairie Falcon when you see it soar across the sky and dive for prey in a blink of an eye.

Mountain Chickadee: While a rare sight to see unless you’re in Western Nebraska in the winter, we especially appreciate the Mountain Chickadee for their distinction as small songbirds. If you want to hear the songs of the Mountain Chickadee, you’ll definitely want to check out the National Audubon Society’s website! By and large, Mountain Chickadees are creatures of habit and prefer to live in higher elevations, a large culprit for why they are so rare in the state of Nebraska. If you see one on your next Nebraska birdwatching adventure, you can consider yourself extremely lucky!

American Avocet: Boasting a long beak, distinct plumage, and a flamingo-like stature, American Avocets are a sight to see in the wild. Common throughout the western half of Nebraska, American Avocets love to call beaches and prairie ponds home. With orange, white and brown plumage, American Avocets are gentle creatures that are downright adorable. For the best chance of seeing these brilliant birds in action, we recommend taking a trip to a Nebraskan lake or pond during the spring and summer.

Sharp-Tailed Grouse: Sharp-Tailed Grouse, also known as Prairie-chickens are the pride and joy of the Nebraskan prairie with their beautiful plumage and unique mating dance. With brown, white, gold, white, and black plumage, Sharp-Tailed Grouse do a great job of blending into the lush scenery of the prairie, especially in the dense shrubs where they typically call home. In regard to their distinct mating dance, male Sharp-tailed Grouse put on quite the show for females with their loud stamping and cooing. (You’re going to want to see a video of this one in action to get the full effect.) Such dancing is a major draw for visitors looking to witness the beauty of nature.

Birdwatching Adventures: If you’re looking to spectate an event of a lifetime in watching Sharp-Tailed Grouse mate, Sandhills Motel & Glidden Canoe Rental offers birdwatching adventures in the spring. To learn more, click here!

No matter what time of year you embark on your next Nebraska birdwatching adventure, you’re sure to see beautiful birds. The best part? The Sandhills Motel is open year-round here in Mullen, the epicenter of all things birding, so make sure lodging with us is a part of your travel plans.

A Beginner’s Guide to Tanking

Posted by on Jan 14, 2021 in Blog, Dismal River Trips, Middle Loup River Trips, Sandhills Motel | Comments Off on A Beginner’s Guide to Tanking

A Beginner’s Guide to Tanking

As we usher in 2021, we’ve decided to officially share our most well-kept recipe for fun at Sandhills Motel & Glidden Canoe Rental. While we can’t promise you’ll be able to make this recipe on your own as well as we do at Sandhills Motel, it’s worth the shot.

You’ll need:
  • 1 large livestock water tank
  • 4-8 friends and family members (including yourself)
  • Sunscreen
  • Towels
  • Snacks
  • Appropriate Beverages
  • Life Jackets
  • Lawn chairs
  • 1-2 meandering rivers
  • Good ‘ole Nebraskan sunshine

Mix all of the ingredients together and you’ll cook up some unforgettable memories (and possibly a sunburn if you aren’t careful). Can you guess what the end result is?… Oh right, it’s the perfect recipe for tanking in Nebraska, the unofficial official leisure activity of Nebraska! While many of us have had the pleasure of spending our summer afternoons tanking in Nebraska down the Middle Loup and Dismal Rivers for years and years,


Learn fun facts about Nebraska

Tanking Nebraska’s winding rivers is so much fun. We’ll paint a picture for you: have you ever felt a cool breeze with a tinge of water and summer heat while floating down a river surrounded by the lush Nebraskan landscape? Imagine that sensation, but extended over a several hour journey – that’s tanking. Intrigued? We’ll tell you more.

The moment you start your tanking journey, you’ll be happy you did. Whether you brought the family with or some friends, tanking down the Dismal or Middle Loup rivers offer ample opportunities for fun, relaxation, and the company of the beautiful nature that surrounds you. It’s like a floating family or class reunion! With the soft current of water slowly pushing you to your destination, disconnecting from your busy life is easier than you imagine, especially when you’ve got the right people, snacks and drinks with you. You can even bring along your favorite six-pack of beer or canned wine to enjoy on your journey (please drink responsibly).

Where else in the world will you be able to experience something so simple, yet so undeniably comforting? The answer is simple: you won’t finding tanking anywhere else! All the more reason to come enjoy a Nebraska tanking adventure in Mullen.

Perhaps the best part about tanking is that if you get hot, you can simply jump in the river to cool off without having to worry about your tank floating away too fast! One can only imagine the fun that will transpire on your tanking adventure, which is why you absolutely need to try it.

Now that you know a little bit more about tanking, call up your friends and family to start planning your next Nebraska tanking vacation. At Sandhills Motel & Glidden Canoe Rentals, we don’t just offer clean hotel rooms and exceptional lodging, we also offer canoe, kayak, and tank rentals! All it takes is a quick call to the Sandhills Motel and we’ll get you set up with everything. Ranging from two-hour adventures to five or six-hour tanking trips, Sandhills Motel & Glidden Canoe Rental makes tank rentals quite affordable.

Our current rates are $25 for adults, $10 for children 12 to 6, and free for anybody younger, so long as they have a life jacket. You can click here to learn more about our River Adventure rentals and here to check out our rates. When you call to make your reservation, make sure to let us know that you saw this blog article!

You can ‘tank’ us later for the recommendation!

Creating Winter fun in the Sandhills

Posted by on Dec 11, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on Creating Winter fun in the Sandhills

Creating Winter fun in the Sandhills

The days are getting shorter and the weather is getting cooler as winter slowly prepares for its yearly ballet here in Nebraska and while we can’t say it’s our favorite season of the year, we can hardly discount the abundant fun that winter brings us in the Sandhills region. From sledding down the Sandhills to taking up new hobbies like cross-country skiing and snow fort building, we often find ourselves looking for opportunities to create our own fun during the winter.

To get your creative juices flowing as cold weather approaches, we’ve put together a winter Sandhills bucket list of sorts to keep you occupied this winter!

Check out the list!

  • Try out a new hobby that you’ve always thought of trying, but never followed through with: Whether you’re taking up snowshoeing or bird watching here in the Sandhills, there’s endless potential to learn and become a pro at something new on winter’s chilly days!
  • Take a trip to somewhere new that you’ve never been before here in Nebraska: Nearly every town and city throughout the state brings something unique to the table. Whether you’re traveling to Halsey, NE and the Bessey Ford Ranger District or taking a cross-state trip to hubs like Omaha, Lincoln, or Grand Island, you’re sure to make unforgettable memories filled with new experiences that you would’ve never had if you had stayed home. To spice up the adventure, get a map of Nebraska and throw a dart at it and go to wherever it lands – how fun would that be?
  • Take part in a local Polar Plunge or Tank Race: Who doesn’t love raising money for worthy charities while having an absorbent amount of fun? If you’re in the Mullen area, Sandhills Journey raises money every year with their tank races which send competitors rowing down the Middle Loup River in the middle of winter. If you’re interested in doing something fun like this, make sure to watch our page in early 2021 to find out more information about the 14th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race.
  • Take a trip from one end of the Sandhills Scenic Byway from one end to the other: No matter which end you start on in Grand Island or Alliance, the Sandhills are a sight to behold in the winter as snow and frost envelope the hilly scenery throughout central Nebraska.
  • Go winter star-gazing: The Sandhills are quite literally one of the best places in the world to go stargazing on a clear night. With minimal light pollution and endless opportunities to bear witness to exciting events like meteor showers, we promise you won’t regret going on a starry adventure. (Just remember to pack blankets and a coat.)
  • Enjoy a weekend getaway at the Sandhills Motel: This one should be a no-brainer if you’re a fan of our lovely motel. Whether you’ve stayed with us 100 times or never before, you’re sure to have a great time here in Mullen on a fun weekend getaway. Who knows what will happen – maybe you’ll find yourself floating down a river in the dead of winter tanking. Click here to check out our rates.
  • Go ice fishing with a friend: If you’re a local or a fellow Nebraskan, you already know that the state offers plentiful opportunities to fish year-round. Pack up your ice shack, fishing gear, some warm snacks and get a move on to fun places like Merritt Reservoir in Valentine or south to the Platte River! Click here to check out great places to ice fish in Nebraska
  • Learn more about the Sandhills: We can’t even begin to tell you how many amazing books there are out there about the Sandhills and their incredibly unique history. For those who aren’t big on reading, enjoy an afternoon watching films like Ocean of Grass which highlights ranching in the Sandhills!
  • Enjoy a weekend or weeknight of cooking/baking new recipes. Let’s be honest – we’re all guilty of cooking the same recipes over and over again throughout the month. Why not spend some down-time broadening your horizons? We especially enjoy the recipes UNL Food Institute has been sharing. If you’re feeling especially sentimental, check out these traditional Nebraskan recipes.

Whether you try out one of these ideas or all of them, we hope you’ll let us know all about your winter excitement next time you see us! Until then, stay safe, stay warm, and have a very Happy Holidays.

Road Trip: 10 Winter Safety Tips

Posted by on Nov 4, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on Road Trip: 10 Winter Safety Tips

Road Trip: 10 Winter Safety Tips

As the holiday season fast approaches, the excitement of being reunited with our friends and family is more apparent than ever before. And let’s face it, who wants to be cooped up at home any more than they already have this year? With that being said, whether your holiday destinations are 100 or 2000 miles away, a winter road trip may be on the menu for you in the coming weeks.

To help guarantee you are adequately prepared to endure the varying wintry conditions on the road, we’ve put together 10 tips for you to review before you start your journey to the promise land of endless turkey, candy canes, and latkes.

Our Top 10 Ten Winter Road Trip Tips:

  1. Be informed about road/weather conditions: Whether you’re facing snow, rain, ice or wind, it is important to be aware of what you’ll be driving through on the road. With a better knowledge of the conditions ahead of you, you can better tailor your road trip to include places to stop along the way, just in case! Sites like Safe Travel USA offer minute-by-minute updates on road conditions.
  2. Pack appropriate clothing: There is no such thing as packing light during the wintertime. If you’re headed towards snow, make sure to pack a winter coat, gloves, boots, a hat, a scarf, and earmuffs. Make sure to also pack extra shirts, pants, socks, and undergarments in case your trip takes longer than expected. As a rule of thumb, pack enough clothes to get you through the length of your trip plus an additional two days – just in case.
  3. Pack extra food and water: Road trip snacks are a staple of cross-country travel, but can also save your life if you get stranded in the middle of nowhere. Make sure to pack extra food and water before you hit the road. You never know when you might need it.
  4. Put together an emergency kit: It is very important to have an emergency kit in your car should you need it. Consider including blankets, jumper cables, roadside flares, a flashlight, extra batteries, a spare tire and jack kit, energy-related food, etc. in your kit. This kit should be equipped to help you in any type of situation.
  5. Pack a small shovel and windshield scraper: While snow in excess is hardly ever fun, having a shovel and windshield scraper will make your life a whole lot easier if you get stuck along the way.
  6. Get your tires and brakes checked: Perhaps the biggest fear of driving in the winter is the worry of encountering icy roads. Ensure you vehicle is prepared to get you from ‘point a’ to ‘point b’ in one piece by having your breaks and tires inspected. Let’s face it, we’re all overdue for a tire rotation and brake inspection anyways!
  7. Get an oil change: The unfortunate reality of cold weather is that it can and will take a toll on your car and its gas mileage. Taking your car to get an oil change and routine inspection can help you better prepare your car for the road ahead. While getting your oil changed, also make sure to check your wiper fluid levels and the health of your car battery!
  8. Let your friends and family know your travel itinerary: Should something unexpected happen on the road, ensuring someone else knows where you’re at or where you’re supposed to be could save your life. As a good rule of thumb, consider sharing travel updates with trusted individuals each time you fill up on gas.
  9. Charge your phone before you go: While most people have the ability to charge their phone on the road, having a charged phone can better guarantee your safety in sticky (or slippery) situations. If you have an external on-the-go power supply, charge it up and bring it along too!
  10. Bring cash along with you: Whether you have to spend an unexpected night at hotel/motel on the road or encounter problems with your credit card somewhere like a gas station, cash can save the day and ensure you have immediate access to funds. Additionally, cash is a great way to make sure you stay on budget should you be traveling on one!


We hope you all stay safe and have a lovely holiday season. If you’re in our neck of the woods, make sure to stop by and say hello!


Ten Reasons Why You NEED To The Visit Nebraska National Forest Bessey Ranger District

Posted by on Oct 13, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on Ten Reasons Why You NEED To The Visit Nebraska National Forest Bessey Ranger District

As fall continues to run its course, the question of ‘what to do’ should never be questioned when you live in a state with as much untapped natural (and manmade) beauty as Nebraska. Nestled within the state’s undeniably scenic and famous Sandhills lies a forest whose beauty is as equally intriguing as its notoriety. What forest is this, you might ask? It’s the Bessey Ranger District, of course!

Revered as the largest manmade forest on the North American continent, the Bessey Ranger District occupancies an area of 141 square miles (or 90,000 acres) just west of Halsey, NE, and 40 miles east of Mullen, NE along Highway 2. Established in the early 1900s by renowned botanist Charles E. Bessey, the forest has stood the test of time (and wind-blown erosion) as a means to determine whether or not manmade forests are sustainable in the Sandhills.

One of only two forests comprising the Nebraska National Forest system, Bessey Ranger District offers an unmatched melting pot of opportunity for people with varying interests ranging from bird watching to hiking. To ensure your fall is as exciting as it can be, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 reasons why you should make your way to Bessey Ranger District as soon as possible.

  1. For bucket list sake: Bessey Ranger District is literally the biggest manmade forest in North America and the ONLY hand-planted forest in the world! For the sake of crossing a couple items off your bucket list, Bessey Ranger District is a must-see sight.
  2. For its fishing: The fishing scene in and around the forest offers opportunity for fishers of all skill levels. Fishers can expect to catch a variety of fish species including: large and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill, walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, crappie, perch, and even an occasional rainbow trout at a variety of lakes, reservoirs, and streams.
  3. For its botanical significance: If you’re a botanist, the idea of even being able to bear witness to the aftermath of Charles E. Bessey’s successful experiment should get you on your feet.
  4. For its historically significant nursery: The Bessey Ranger District’s Charles E. Bessey Tree Nursery is responsible for the production of 1.5 million seedlings per year and serves as the second seedbank of the Rocky Mountains. The nursery is the oldest Federal tree nursery in the US!
  5. For its hiking: Take a hike to the Scott Lookout Tower, a three mile trail leading to a lookout tower offering 360-degree views of the forest and surrounding grasslands. Fun fact: the Scott Lookout Tower remains as the only active fire tower in the entire state!
  6. For camping: To take an overnight camping trip to Bessey Recreation Complex and Campground before visiting us in Mullen! There’s fun for the whole family.
  7. For off-roading: Visitors can enjoy an 11 mile ATV trail along the Dismal River among several others.
  8. For birdwatching: Enjoy birdwatching while taking in the stunning views of the forest and Sandhills. (Make sure to bring your National Audubon Society birdwatching book!)
  9. For horse riding: If you have a horse, Bessey Ranger District is the perfect place to take your favorite hooved friend out on an adventure.
  10. For an opportunity to relax: Take a breath of fresh air and enjoy a moment (or several hours) of relaxation. During these undeniably uncertain times, it has never been more important to find opportunities to get out and enjoy the splendor of our beautiful country.

While we capped our list of reasons you need to visit the Bessey Ranger District at ten, we hope you find plenty more reasons to make a trip to our favorite forest. If you do go, make sure to visit us in Mullen and share all of your photos! Have fun adventuring.

Scenic Nebraska Drives

Posted by on Sep 15, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on Scenic Nebraska Drives

The summer months are winding down and we are starting to see a change of seasons. Days are becoming shorter, temperatures are dropping, and colors are starting to change. Surely everyone enjoys the heat and long days that come with the summer months but there is just something so refreshing about the fall. There is crispness in the air that makes us all remember why we love the Midwest. The wonderful changing of seasons. Take some time this fall to go explore and find yourself in the beautiful autumn landscape.

Below we have made a list of some the most beautiful scenic drives in Nebraska. Read through this list and find a route near you to go explore and take in all nature has to offer during this time. There is nothing like a nice, long drive on a Sunday to clear your mind and fill your soul. Turn on some music, grab some company and go take in some of Nebraska’s best views.

1. Hwy 385 – Gold Rush Scenic Byway
This beautiful stretch of road used to be the main transport path for gold during the gold rush. It is rumored that somewhere around $200,000 dollars worth of gold traveled this route daily in its peak. This historic route connects Sidney with Bridgeport, Alliance and Chadron. There are plenty of places to stop along the way and enjoy a cold beer, great food, and plenty of entertainment options.

2. Bridges to Buttes Scenic Byway
Looking to catch views from rolling hills to the wonders of the western Nebraska Prairie? Bridges and Buttes is the route for you. Starting in Valentine and running as far as the Wyoming border this stretch of road offers diverse opportunities for fun. Take a stop at Toadstool Geological Park for a mars like experience that is truly out of this world. The rock formations will truly show you the power Mother Nature has.

3. Loup Rivers Scenic Byway
Loup Rivers has a little bit of everything for those looking to explore new sights. Drive along the scenic Calamus Reservoir to start your adventure out with breath taking landscape. After that, take a stop at the Valley County Museum to get some history on American aviation and how women paved the way in the 1930’s. Once you have gotten your dose of history for the day, take a walk through Happy Jack Peak and Chalk Mine. These caves offer over 6,000 square feet of honeycomb caves to explore.

4. Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway
The diversity of the landscape you will find on this drive is unmatched by any other in Nebraska. One moment you will be driving through rustic sand dunes and out of nowhere will see the Nebraska National Forest on the horizon. Make this a two day trip and take a night to relax with us at the Sandhills Motel in Mullen, NE. There are many small, unique towns to stop along this route that offer fun entertainment, great eats, and cold brews.

These are just a few of the gorgeous, scenic drive options Nebraska has to offer. A full list of scenic drives can be found here. Due to COVID – 19 many have been forced to stay inside and socially distance. One way to get out of the house and have some socially distanced fun is to go out and explore nature safely. So why not go take a scenic drive and explore what this beautiful state has to offer?