Five Tips for Fall Camping with Kids

Posted by on Oct 26, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Five Tips for Fall Camping with Kids

Five Tips for Fall Camping with Kids

When it comes to your family vacation bucket list, camping in Nebraska during the cool fall weather is a MUST. The fires always seem a little bit cozier and the relaxing feeling of warming up in the morning with some hot chocolate or coffee is incomparable. While fall camping in Nebraska may require a little more planning for even the most skilled adventurists, nothing quite compares to preparing for the greatest outdoor adventure of all – camping with kids. Use these helpful tips to plan the perfect family get away.

1. Plan activities for your campsite. Planning some type of game or activity provides the perfect entertainment for your child, without the hassle of leaving your camp area. It doesn’t need to be some wild adventure that you found on the internet somewhere; instead, you could simply pack bubbles, a pair of binoculars, or even come up with a simple nature scavenger hunt. The main focus is getting your child to stay away from electronics and just enjoy the fresh air of the outdoors.

2. Invest in quality gear. Sure, the Frozen themed sleeping bags sound like an adorable idea when choosing what camping gear to bring on your trip, but it isn’t the most practical choice for camping with kids in fall weather. It is a good idea to make sure you invest in quality sleeping bags, jackets, tents, and other gear that is meant to keep you warm during the chilly temperatures. By keeping your toddler warm and cozy throughout the trip, you can avoid a meltdown, or even bringing home a sick child.

3. Make it educational. Never miss out on an opportunity to teach your child valuable life skills. Teach them simple things such as fire safety. If they haven’t already learned about fire safety in school or daycare, go over the Stop, Drop, and Roll technique as well as the proper way to put out a fire. It is also a good opportunity to teach them about the beautiful nature and wildlife in the area. Consider bringing some type of birdwatching book or track identification book so your child can learn hands-on. Educating your child during a family camping trip could turn into a fun bonding hobby as he or she grows older.

4. Pack food that your child enjoys. Every parent knows that a hungry child is not a happy child. Make sure that you pack lots of foods that your picky eater will have no problem eating. You can’t go wrong with yummy fruit snacks or granola bars! Save yourself from a potential tantrum by packing a large variety of easy, age-appropriate food.

5. Check and double-double check. Forgetting something that seems like a small item to you may be catastrophic to your small child. If you didn’t pack their favorite stuffed animal, you may find it difficult putting them to bed without their familiar cuddle buddy. It is important to remember to pack everything you can possibly think of, even down to something as simple as extra batteries for your “lightsaber” flashlights. Double checking all of your camping trip essentials will ensure that you and your family will have an optimal experience and create moments that your children will remember for years to come.

Camping with kids truly can be a wonderful adventure. With these five helpful tips, you and your family are sure to have an unforgettable trip while camping in Nebraska during the fall season.

Fall Camping in Nebraska Tips

Posted by on Sep 26, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Fall Camping in Nebraska Tips

The fun of camping doesn’t have to end after the hot, summer weather is gone for the year. If you enjoy the cool, crisp air of autumn and keeping snug next to a bonfire with a mug of hot chocolate in your hands, fall camping is just the thing for you. With Nebraska typically having mild weather this time of year, an afternoon hike can be enjoyed without getting hot and sweaty as you would in the summer, and a night’s sleep can be had without braving through the well below freezing temperatures of winter. But just like camping in Nebraska during any other time of the year, being prepared will ensure you stay comfortable and safe during your trip. By following the tips below, you can make your next fall camping excursion a vacation to remember.

Dress for the weather
Although temperatures tend to be mild in the fall, it is best to bring attire along with you to protect you from any kind of adverse weather. Bring a winter coat, no matter how warm the forecast predicts the area to be while you’re camping. Dressing in layers is the way to go so that you can remove items during the day, and then put them back on as needed as the evening chill sets in. Long underwear, knit hats, mittens, and lightweight jackets are all great for layering during your trip. Waterproof boots and outerwear are a must on any camping trip, but are particularly essential in the fall so you don’t end up wet, cold and miserable.

Bring the right equipment
What works for camping in Nebraska in the summer doesn’t always work for fall camping, so take a look at your camping equipment before you head out for the campground, and make sure it’s up to par for your autumn plans. Sleeping bags are typically categorized by whether they’re a summer season (when outside temperatures are 35°F and higher temperature), 3-season (for temperatures between 10°F and 35°F) or a winter season (for temperatures 10°F and colder) sleeping bag. The chilly fall nights call for a 3-season sleeping bag, preferably one with a hood to keep heat from escaping. A sleeping pad is also a necessity in the fall, and will keep you from lying directly on the cold ground. Your tent may be the most crucial out of all of your camping gear, and should be a sturdy waterproof 3-season model that can withstand wind and rain.

Set up early
With the days getting shorter and shorter, dark seems to arrive before you know it. Fumbling while trying to assemble your tent by the glow of a flashlight is time consuming and frustrating. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to put your camp together while the sun is still up so that by the time evening rolls around, you’ll be free to roast s’mores and tell ghost stories by the campfire.

Keep your campfire safe
Arguably, one of the best things about camping during the autumn months is keeping cozy next to a campfire, but making sure you practice a few safety tips can ensure your camping trip doesn’t go up in flames. While you’re preparing for your trip, check to see if there are fire restrictions in place in the area you plan to camp in. Flammable fluids should never be used to start a campfire, and the use of them could result in serious injuries. Always keep your campfire attended, since a flare up can cause a disaster in a matter of minutes. And remember to put your fire completely out before going to bed or leaving the campsite; drown the fire out with water or use a shovel to mix dirt into the fire until the fire site is completely cool.

Eat hearty
Autumn is the perfect time to enjoy the comfort foods that satisfy your hunger and keep you toasty. Foods packed in protein will do an excellent job of giving you energy that will help you stay warm. If you wake up shivering in the morning, cook up a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs on the camp stove to warm you right up. Warm beverages like hot cocoa or cider are not only tasty fall-time treats, but also heat up your hands while you’re enjoying them.

Camping in Nebraska is an activity that your family can enjoy any season of the year. Fall camping is a great way to get up close and personal with beautiful fall foliage and enjoy all of the things that make this season so special. Plan your fall camping trip in Nebraska today!

Tips for staying cool during the heat of summer

Posted by on Sep 1, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Tips for staying cool during the heat of summer

As summer progresses on and even moves into fall, the temperature rises. Even some fall temperatures can still reach 90s or better. It is important not to get too hot or dehydrated. Here are some tips to stay cool during summer and early fall.
Loose fitting clothing
Nothing is worse than wearing a tight shirt on a hot day. Change your wardrobe to some loose clothing. The more flowy the shirt, the cooler you will be. It is also important to stay away from dark colors such as black and brown as they attract the sun. Go for more light colors such as white or pink.

Plastic bottles of water in freezer
It is important to store some plastic water bottles in your freezer. It allows them to freeze so when you’re ready to go outside and battle the summer heat, you can just grab one of these. It will slowly start to melt and every sip will taste ice cold. If you do not want to drink the freezing water, it could be used as an ice pack to help you stay cool. Just place it on your head or the back of your neck.

Fans really help when it comes to cooling off. The best way to have this set up is to have it in front of an open window. This creates a cross breeze. It uses the wind from the outside to make a breeze and the fan makes it cool. If you have multiple windows in a room and multiple fans, you can set this up at both windows and have more airflow. As the summer transitions into fall, this will be especially helpful when the nights start to cool off. Make sure you keep your windows open at night to get a jump start on cooling the house down for the next day. Beat the summer heat before it has a chance to start. If there is nothing but hot air moving outside, turn the fans around to blow out the window, pushing hot air out of the house instead of pulling it in. You can also switch the direction of your ceiling fans to turn counter-clockwise, which will pull the hot air up and out instead of just moving it around the room.

Lights off
Another way to stay cool during the summer heat is to keep the lights off in your house. Light bulbs give off heat so it is best to use natural lighting during the day to keep your house cool. Even energy efficient light bulbs give off heat so this can be the reason why your house is so warm. The good thing about summer is that it stays light outside until 8 or 9 p.m. so you won’t have to turn the lights on until dark.

Reduce use of appliances—stove, microwave, etc
Just like lights, appliances give off heat when they are being used. The stove, microwave, and even the toaster can give off heat when food is being cooked. During the hot summer days, opt for more cool food items, such as salad. If you feel like making a hot dish, use the grill outside instead of turning the stove on.

Go for a swim
A fun way to stay cool is to go swimming. Most pools in the summer time will have a perfect water temperature. You don’t have to break a sweat when swimming either by treading in the deep end. Find a shallow part of the pool and just relax. Better get on this soon though; pools will start to close soon for the fall and winter seasons.

Hopefully these tips will help keep you cool during the summer to fall transition! We do have a pool, so you won’t have to worry about getting to hot when you’re visiting.

Total Solar Eclipse of 2017

Posted by on Jul 19, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Total Solar Eclipse of 2017

In the past 38 years, none of the lower 48 states of the United States have been able to view a total solar eclipse. The last one was in February 1979. On August 21, 2017 a total solar eclipse will be visible from the United States; it is being called the “Great American Eclipse.” A total solar eclipse is when the moon completely covers the sun. During a total solar eclipse, temperatures will drop and the area will become dark. Total solar eclipses aren’t rare, but they are for those who live in the United States. The next eclipse to hit this area won’t be until August 2024.

The Sandhills of Nebraska will be the central location for viewing the total solar eclipse. Nebraska has treeless prairies, low light pollution, and open skies. There are many viewing points in Nebraska that allow you to be in the path of totality. The path of totality means that the total solar eclipse will be visible, if you’re not in the path of totality, the eclipse will be a partial eclipse. Interstate 80 from North Platte to Lincoln and Highway 385 near Alliance are in the path of totality. It is best to stay as far west in Nebraska for the most ideal viewing points.

Alliance, Nebraska, which is one hour away from Sandhills Motel, is on the centerline of the eclipse. This means that Alliance will have one of the longest viewing times of the total solar eclipse, which is 2.5 minutes. There will be viewing areas set up all around Alliance at places such as Carhenge, Alliance Airport, and Laing Lake Park. Alliance is even celebrating by having “The Weekend of the Eclipse.” This will be filled with food, bands, arts, and games. Along with these activities, different educational opportunities will be happening. The solar eclipse will start its partial phase at 10:27 a.m. MDT with its totality starting at 11:49 a.m. MDT. There are high chances of having no clouds in the sky.

Nebraska is the closest destination for over 30 million Americans, and is expecting hundreds of thousands of visitors from North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado, Kansas, and even Canada.

The Sandhills Motel is in a prime location for those who want to view the total solar eclipse in August. Within traveling distance from towns such as Alliance and Highway 385, Sandhills Motel will be the best option. For those who choose to watch the eclipse in Mullen, Nebraska the partial phase starts at 10:30 a.m. MDT and the totality starts at 11:53 a.m. MDT. The duration of the eclipse is 1 minute and 24 seconds.

Camping Hacks for Pets

Posted by on Jun 26, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Camping Hacks for Pets

When the summer months come around, it becomes camping season. Many campgrounds allow guests to have pets, and bringing along a pet is one way to make sure they aren’t lonely when you leave them at home. Here are some camping hacks for pets.

Bring an old dog bed
Unless you’re okay with cuddling in a small tent with your pet, bring an old bed of theirs. It’s best to make sure it’s old since your pet will probably be getting dirty during your camping trip. Depending on how comfortable you are with the campsite, you can keep the bed outside or you can allow your pet to sleep inside the tent with you. Along with this, it also gives your animal a place to lay down when everyone is just hanging out around the campfire.

Bring insect repellant
When your pet is out playing in grass or trees, it is prone to getting ticks. The best way to deal with this situation is to prevent it before it happens. The most common camping hacks are to get a tick collar or tick spray. The tick collar can stay on your pet the entire camping trip, but the tick spray will have to be reapplied daily. If you’re worried about pesticides, you can make your own natural tick repellant by mixing two tablespoons of almond oil with Rose Geranium oil. After this, place a few drops on your pet’s neck or collar. This will ensure that camping with dogs doesn’t turn into them bringing the camping trip home with them.

LED light for the collar
Sometimes during the night, the only thing providing light is the fire you set up earlier. It is nerve racking to wonder where your pet is then having to find a flashlight and call their name to find them. Purchase a LED light for their collar. This way, you will always know where they are when it’s dark outside. LED lights are the best option since you can see the blue color from a distance.

Bring a Carabiner
This camping hack will make keeping your dog at your campsite easier. Sometimes it is hard to find a good pole to tie the leash around, so if there is a carabiner attached to the end of your pet’s leash, you can secure their leash to anything. If you have an active pet, bring along some rope. Tie each end onto a tree, and then connect the leach to the rope. Now your pet has more room to run and play, making camping with dogs much easier.

Extra marshmallows
S’mores is a traditional camping food item. Chocolate is toxic to most pets, but thankfully, marshmallows are not. Marshmallows are just sugar, so if you don’t mind having a chunky pet, give them a few. They’ll enjoy the sweet treat after a long day.

Remember these camping hacks when you come out this summer. We are a pet friendly property and love camping with dogs!

Camping hacks for all of your camping meals

Posted by on May 8, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Camping hacks for all of your camping meals

Cooking your breakfast, lunch, and dinner over a campfire is one of the many perks of taking a camping trip. Whether you’re camping in a tent, RV or cabin, campfires are an important part of nighttime enjoyment and warmth, and being able to make some yummy meals and snacks only make it better. Here are a few camping hacks for your next campfire meal, as well as food storage tips to make your camping trip a little easier.

Get creative with storage
There is a lot to pack when you go camping, especially when preparing camping meals. So get creative when packing the ingredients for your food. Store spices in old Tic Tac boxes or pill organizers. You can take just enough with you for camping meals but they won’t take up much room. Want to take coffee with you but don’t want to deal with packing the bulky bag and filters? Portion out some coffee into the filters and tie them with dental floss, then place them in boiling water when you’re ready for a hot cup of joe. Planning on making eggs for one of your camping meals? You can either put eggs in those nifty hard shell egg holders, or pre-scramble them by putting your eggs into an empty plastic water bottle. Each bottle will hold eight eggs.

Utilize orange peels to bake favorite camping meals
Orange peels can be very useful when used for camping meals. Cut an orange in half and make sure you keep the peel intact as you scoop the insides out. Put one prepackaged cinnamon roll inside each orange peel half and set them inside a cast iron skillet, wrap it in foil, and cook them over the fire until done. You can also use them to bake muffins in a similar fashion.

Put a twist on s’mores
S’mores are camping meals staples, but they can be messy. Try a neater version with this camping hack: pack all of your s’mores ingredients into a waffle ice cream cone, wrap the cone in foil, and put them on a grate over the fire. Let them cook for a few minutes then enjoy! You can always make them in a banana as well by stuffing the ingredients into a banana peel and wrapping it in foil. Another great twist on the classic s’mores is twist open an Oreo and put in melted chocolate and a roasted marshmallow.

Make a long-lasting candle out of a citrus peel
Take the peel of half of an orange, lemon, or grapefruit, and ensure that the center core-like stem is still intact. Pour kitchen oil (vegetable, olive, etc.) into the orange just below the top of the stem. Light the stem. The oil will burn for hours and you’ll have the added benefit of the good smell. This is one of our favorite camping hacks for campfires.

Camping hacks like these will save you a lot of time in the long run when planning your camping meals. We can’t wait to see you out this summer for all of your camping and floating trips!

Camping preparation for doing some RV camping in the spring

Posted by on Apr 14, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Camping preparation for doing some RV camping in the spring

Preparing for going camping is a spring tradition, and one that can get the excitement bubbling for summertime activities. Going RV camping requires a bit more work to get ready than just tent camping. There are numerous steps that need to be taken to ensure your RV is ready to hit the road for some spring and summer camping. Here are just a few camping preparation suggestions we’d recommend for your RV to guarantee it’s in proper working condition.

After Winter Inspection
Inspecting your RV after the winter is crucial to make sure it didn’t get damaged since you last used it, especially if you live in an area where large amounts of snow fall. Your RV can easily get damaged without you realizing it. You don’t want to go RV camping and have the roof cave in one you unexpectedly, so inspect it closely for a bending roof or water leaks. Remember to check it for any critters that may have tried to take refuge in there, such as mice.

Check the mechanics
Before you get ready to move it, make sure you reinstall the battery, check that the brakes work properly, and make sure the lights are in proper working condition. When camping in an RV, camping preparation becomes just as much mechanical as it does organizational. Be sure to check the tire condition, air pressure, and lug nut torque, as well as the water system. Check all of the fluids including the antifreeze and oil. Inspect the gas appliances such as the stove burners very closely to make sure they work perfectly.

Clean thoroughly
After sitting for a whole winter season, your RV is sure to have collected a fine layer of dust and other various debris. Be sure to clean everything thoroughly, watching out for spider webs and other nests. Nobody wants some extra critters joining them on their RV camping trip and many different creatures can find their way into your RV during the winter to seek shelter from the cold.

Test your awnings
One of the perks of RV camping is having an awning to extend and sit under when it’s sunny. That can’t happen if your camping preparation doesn’t include an inspection of your awning. Make sure it is able to extend and that it doesn’t have any holes or nests inside that weren’t there last season.
There is a lot of camping preparation that needs to take place before the season starts, and the season is upon us. Get your checklist ready and get those RVs ready to roll. We look forward to seeing you this summer!

History of camping tents

Posted by on Mar 13, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on History of camping tents

It’s safe to say camping is one of our favorite pastimes here at Sandhills. But what is interesting is how camping came to be a favorite American pastime, rather than just a way of life. Camping tents are a popular form of camping, so here is a little bit of information on the history of camping and how camping tents came to be a popular form of camping.

Camping tents were first carbon dated to around 40,000 B.C. with very rudimentary structure designs. The first camping tent was found in Moldova and was originally constructed out of a mammoth hide and bones, which is a considerable process if you consider the process of slaying, cleaning, and sewing the hide of a 13-foot tall creature. The convenient thing about these camping tents is that they were easily portable. From these tents came the yurt and the teepee, which gave a bit more of a structure, but were still portable and easily movable from one place to another.

The history of camping continues as we head into the 20th Century. As the Industrial Revolution made materials like heavy canvas and waxed fabrics easy to come across, camping tents started to shift from animal hides to manufactured materials. Wall tents became popular among military units that followed the style of yurts but maximized indoor space. By 1911, the first Boy Scout Handbook had been published and it depicted 10 different types of tents.

Nylon, invented by the DuPont Company in 1935, was the go –to tent material until the 1970s. Soon after that reign, camping tents material started to become more lightweight and weather resistant, making a mark on the history of camping. Aluminum tent poles were created to help lighten the camping tents load when traveling. The first self-standing tent was created in 1959 by Eureka that featured nylon walls and metal poles, replacing the difficult to use wooden ones. By 1970, Eureka had introduced the backpack-storable tent that sold one million units in just 10 years.

By 1990, Napier Enterprises had taken the history of camping to a whole new level by introducing the truck tent. This created a tent that would set up and attach to the bed of a truck, adding additional protection and making sleeping access easier. These days, camping tents can be erected anywhere, from the bed of a truck, to alongside the sides of cliff walls. The history of camping continues to make its mark by way of camping tents. By 2011, over 3.2 million Americans were still making tent camping trips, which is a million more than RV excursions.

It’s Polar Bear Tank Race time, benefiting the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway

Posted by on Feb 14, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on It’s Polar Bear Tank Race time, benefiting the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway

Looking for a fun way to celebrate the start of March and the upcoming spring season? Are you getting a little cabin fever and ready to get out for an adventure, no matter the temperature? It’s time, once again, for the annual Polar Bear Tank Races, benefiting the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway. Tank racing is a staple in the Sandhills and is a popular way to spend the summer, as well as the brave ones who do it in the winter. This unique event is one of the most unique events that take place in the winter months and we’d argue the most fun. This year is the 10th annual Polar Bear Tank Races, meaning it will be bigger and better than ever!

Registration for the tank racing is on a first come, first serve basis, so if you haven’t registered yet, get registered soon to ensure your team can join us on March 3-4. Need some more information? Contact the event organizers:

Mitch Glidden: 888-278-6167 or 308-546-2206


REGISTRATION FEE (Must be 21 to enter)
$195 (non-refundable) PER PERSON
There must be a minimum of four people on a tank racing team

Your registration includes:

  • One Racing Tank, plus a life jacket and paddle for each participant
  • One Polar Bear Tank Race t-shirt for each participant
  • Two nights accommodations (double occupancy) on March 3-4 in Thedford or Mullen
  • Welcome Reception & Soup Cook-Off
  • Polar Bear Tank Race
  • Lunch following the race
  • Polar Bear Tank Race Awards Banquet – Prime Rib Dinner
  • Team trophies for the top three men’s and women’s teams

Schedule of Events

Friday, March 3
(All Times – Mountain Time)

  • 4:00-5:30 p.m. – Registration of teams and welcome reception. You must attend the registration and welcome reception in order to be a qualified tank racing team.
  • 5:00 p.m. – Soup Cook-Off. Sample various soups from Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway Communities

Drawings for race departure times will be held immediately following the Soup Cook-Off.

Saturday, March 4

  • 8:00 a.m. – Breakfast included at Mullen, at the Consolidated Telephone Building. Meet in Mullen. Transportation will be provided to the launch site on the Middle Loup River from the Consolidated Telephone Building.
  • 9:00 a.m. – First bus leaves Consolidated building to launch area – other tanks launched in short intervals according to the tank racing draw order.

A hot lunch will be provided after the race.

Transportation will be provided from the finish line back to the Consolidated Telephone Building.

  • 5:00 p.m. – 10th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race Awards Banquet. Location TBD, as we’re hoping there will be a new Mullen Event’s Center.

Getting out of the house and supporting the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway is a great way to spend a weekend and a unique event to do in the winter to help cure you of cabin fever. Don’t forget your fun team names, matching costumes, and fun props to help get you down the river in a fun and unique way! We can’t wait to see you all for the 10th Annual Polar Bear Tank Races!

Fun outdoor activities and things to do in the winter

Posted by on Jan 23, 2017 in Blog, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Fun outdoor activities and things to do in the winter

Winter has settled its harsh temperatures over the Sandhills. With snowcapped trees, iced over lakes, and the frost covered streets, the evenings have become frigid and the days cool. But even with the snow covering the grass, there are still plenty of outdoor activities to partake in while you are on vacation. With many different things to do in the winter, we wanted to help you out by giving you a few ideas of ways to celebrate the last few months of winter before it gives way to spring.

  • Go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. This is a great way to take your hike to the next level. Rent some snowshoes or cross-country skis from the local outdoor store and go to some of the higher elevations where there is a significant amount of snow. Ask any of our Sandhills staff for their favorite hiking spots to go snowshoeing at.
  • Have a photo expedition. The snow creates a magical new world that looks completely different even to those who know the area like the back of their hands. Your outdoor activities don’t have to be super strenuous. Just take a camera (your phone will do) and go out for a walk and take some fantastic pictures of the newly painted landscape.
  • Have a winter picnic. Who says that picnics are only good for the summer? One of our favorite things to do in the winter is packing a picnic basket and going out for a winter picnic. Pack numerous blankets and soup in a thermos and head out to your favorite grassy spot for a picnic. You can even take some hot chocolate or apple cider along for something warm to drink.
  • Build a snow fort. Get in touch with your inner Eskimo and enjoy building a snow fort. Another popular winter outdoor activities include having a snow ball fight. Your snow fort is your home base and snow ball storage area. Loser buys the winners hot chocolate.
  • Go ice fishing. Its’ a tricky, but rewarding outdoor activity that can really teach your kids great life skills. Do some research before going and make sure you have the proper equipment. Ask any of our Sandhills staff which their favorite lake is to go to for ice fishing and plan accordingly. Don’t forget the blankets and warm clothing!

There are plenty of things to do in the winter that can be done outside, rather than staying inside and being a hermit. The rolling Nebraska Sandhills prove an excellent backdrop for winter outdoor activities that are an experience anyone can enjoy. Just don’t forget the hot chocolate!