Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway Gets a Boost from the 9th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race

Posted by on Feb 19, 2016 in Bird Watching, Blog, Dismal River Trips, Middle Loup River Trips, Polar Bear Tank Race | Comments Off on Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway Gets a Boost from the 9th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race

The Nebraska Sandhills roll gently across the Ogallala Aquifer. They provide us with an ever-changing backdrop for scores of wildlife and millions of birds that traverse the North American Central Flyway every year, including the Sandhills Crane, Sharptail Grouse, and Prairie Chicken. Springtime is approaching and it is nearly time for the annual spring migrationSandhills Journey Scenic Byway of the Sandhill Crane. A natural wonder in and of itself, it’s something that everyone should see in their lifetime.  You’ll can experience all of these things on the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway, the most popular route through the Sandhills of Nebraska.

Extending from Alliance, NE all the way down to Grand Island, NE, the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway provides a beautiful and majestic backdrop for you and your family as you travel across Nebraska. The drive gives you a chance to experience incredible starry nights that you only see in your dreams. You’ll see historic towns and villages, meandering rivers, and the history of pioneers and the plains. You’ll find it all along the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway.

The Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway is rated in the top 12 scenic routes in the United States by and is listed as one of the highways to drive in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. These are both pretty big claims, but we do love our Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway. We want others to experience the beauty and wonder that we all know, love, and are accustomed to. Every winter, we work with the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway to put on our Polar Bear Tank Race.

This year will be the 9th Annual Polar Bear Tank race and we’re just as excited for it as we have been in the past. See, the people that live along this byway have worked hard and created some really cool American hidden treasures that you won’t find anywhere else.

What is a Polar Bear Tank Race? To the uninitiated, it’s fairly simply. Tanking involves loading up some friends into a stock tank and float down the Dismal or Middle Loup Rivers. It’s a favorite pastime in Nebraska, and we love it! The Polar Bear Tank Race takes tanking to a new level. Not only are you and your friends out tanking, but you’re also racing to the finish line in late-winter temperatures. It’s a fun test of mettle that helps raise awareness for our beloved Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway.

Help us raise awareness for the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway and spread the word about the beautiful landscape and treasures that Nebraska has to offer. We still have spots open! Get your team together and get ready for the 9th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race! For more information you can visit the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway’s website. If you have any questions, please feel free to call 308-546-2206 for more information. Don’t forget to Like Us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on all of the latest Sandhills fun!

9th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race Raises Awareness for the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway

Posted by on Jan 26, 2016 in Blog, Polar Bear Tank Race, River Adventures, Sandhills Motel | Comments Off on 9th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race Raises Awareness for the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway


2016_Polar_BearCallout_draft-resizedAre you looking for something a little out of the ordinary this winter? Are you ready to test your mettle, brave the weather, and spend a fun-filled day tanking on the Middle Loup River? Well get your teams together and join us for the 9th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race on March 4th and 5th. The Polar Bear Tank Race is held each year to help raise awareness for the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway. This is one of the most unique winter events held anywhere, and is filled with good fun and good memories.

Registration for the 9th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race is on a first come, first basis, so register now to ensure that you and your team can participate. Looking for more information? Please contact the event organizers:

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


  • Don’t forget to name your team. If you don’t, your team name will be the last name of your team captain or team registrant.
  • Have fun! It wouldn’t be a Polar Bear Tank Race without costumes and decorations!
  • We encourage you to bring decorations, clothing, costumes, hats or whatever else you can think of to help embellish your tank and carry out your team name.
  • Part of the fun is decorating your tank you are in your tank racing down the river.


REGISTRATION FEE (Must be 21 to enter)
$180 (non-refundable) PER PERSON
Must Be a Minimum of Four Contestants per Racing Team

What does registering for the 9th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race get you and your team? First and foremost, you get the opportunity to help us raise awareness for the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway. In addition to that, registration includes:

  • One Racing Tank, plus a life jacket and paddle for each participant
  • One Polar Bear Tank Race t-shirt to each participant
  • Accommodations for 2 nights (double occupancy) on March 4-5 in Thedford or Mullen
  • Welcome Reception & Soup Cook-Off
  • Breakfast before the 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 4
(All Times—Mountain Time)

  • 4:00-5:30 P.M. 9th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race Registration & Welcome Reception – Seneca Auditorium.
  • You must attend the registration and the Welcome Reception in order to be a qualified race 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 Events—Mountain Time)

  • 8:00 A.M. Breakfast included at Mullen, at the Consolidated Telephone Building (take NE Hwy 97 north through Mullen, the building is largeindex white building on left side of highway just on the north edge of Mullen).
  • 8:00 A.M. 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. Depart. The first bus leaves the Consolidated Telephone Building to the launch area. The other tanks launched in short intervals according to the 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. 9th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race Awards Banquet – held at the Seneca Auditorium.

Raising awareness for the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway is a great way to help spread the word about the beautiful landscape and treasures that Nebraska has to offer. We still have spots open! Get your team together and get ready for the 9th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race! For more information you can visit the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway. If you have any questions, please feel free to call 308-546-2206 for more information. Don’t forget to Like Us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on all of the latest Sandhills fun!

Polar Bear Tank Race Team Theme Ideas

Posted by on Dec 11, 2015 in Blog, River Adventures, Sandhills Motel | Comments Off on Polar Bear Tank Race Team Theme Ideas

b3f773f9a71c3c1f25ff0761bbc07378The start of the year is upon us, which means it’s time for the 9th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race, the most wonderful time of year! It’s time to gather your teams, think up a theme, and register for the best and most unique winter event in Mullen, Nebraska. This year’s Polar Bear Tank Race will go to benefit and create awareness for the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway.

The thing that makes the Polar Bear Tank Race so fun is not that you get to float down a river with your closest friends in a stock tank, but it’s the theme and decorations that each team puts into their tank. But what theme should you do? Here are a few tips on fun themes to have for your teams and ways that you can decorate your tank while floating to fully support your theme.

  • Frozen. Probably the most obvious theme, would be dressing up as and decorating your tank to represent the movie Frozen. Designate one person from your team to be each character. You could easily have Elsa, Olaf, Anna, Kristoff, and Hans. Decorations could include hanging fake icicles from the outside of your tank (don’t forget the tape!), attaching blue balloons to the tank, and attaching snowflakes to the inside of your tank.
  • Pirate. Arrrrgh me mateys! It’s time to sail the seven seas (or the Middle Loup River) and claim victory over the other scallywags (or other tank racers)! Don your pirate hats and eye patches, throw up those sails, and set your sights on the finish line with your pirate themed tank.
  • Pretty in Pink. Show your support for those suffering from breast cancer and throw on every pink article of clothing you own. Decorate your tank with all manner of pink items from pink leis, to pink banners and pink streamers. This would be an easy one to tailor to whatever charity or awareness group you choose. Just pick a color!
  • Beach bums. While it may be a bit cold for this one in the beginning of March, it could work. Wear your swimsuits (we suggest overtop some other clothes to keep you warm), load up your beach chairs, and layer your tank with sand and towels. Set up an umbrella to finish the look and toss around some beach balls while you’re floating.

Remember that all of your decorations must be attached to your tank while you are floating. Have a game plan of what your theme will be and come up with a fun team name to go along with it. You must be 21 to enter the Polar Bear Tank Race and registration costs $180 per person. Registration includes a tank, life jacket and paddle for each person, a t-shirt for each participant, accommodations for two nights, a welcome reception and soup cook-off, breakfast before the race, lunch following the race, and awards dinner. There must be a minimum of four contestants on each team.

Registration fills up fast, so register today. Get more information here. It’s going to be a great year! Once you’re registered, don’t forget to book your stay with us! Click here to contact us for more information, or give us a call at (308) 546-2206 to book your stay today!

Ice Fishing Tips for Your Winter Camping Adventure in Nebraska

Posted by on Nov 11, 2015 in Blog | Comments Off on Ice Fishing Tips for Your Winter Camping Adventure in Nebraska

imagesThe days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. While the cold weather hasn’t come quite yet, it’ll be here before we know it. That’s why we’ve put together this list of ice fishing tips for the beginner. Nebraska is full of winter activities and winter camping can be a wonderful experience. By following these ice fishing tips, you’ll be able to incorporate ice fishing as part of your winter camping experience. Our ice fishing tips will help those would-be ice anglers get started in the sport without investing a tremendous amount of money on their next winter camping adventure.

Ice Fishing Mindset

First, it’s important to understand why people ice fish. There are a number of reasons why people enjoy ice fishing and, like many activities, they vary from person to person. This ice fishing tip explains why. The primary reason many people enjoy ice fishing, whether they’re on a winter camping trip or not, is because winter is the best time to target a certain species of fish.

These fish like to swim in the in the deepest portions of lakes and ponds during the tradition open fishing season. To catch these tricky swimmers, it usually requires a person to have a boat equipped with a sonar unit, downriggers, and other specialized equipment, most of which is expensive. However, once the surface of the lake freezes to a safe thickness in the winter, anyone who can walk can access prime fishing territory. Because these species thrive in cold water, they are just as active (if not more so) during the winter months as they are during the warmer months. They also move to shallower, easier to fish regions of lakes and ponds. Snagging that trophy catch in July will likely require thousands of dollars of equipment, but during the winter all you need is a hook, line, and a hole in the ice.

Get the Gear

Just like any other outdoor activity, the gear you choose for ice fishing can be as simple and inexpensive or as expensive and complicated as you want. However, we’ve got some ice fishing tips for the beginner to start off with.

Make a Hole in the Ice

We wouldn’t be giving you very good ice fishing tips if we didn’t help you solve the first problem, which is, breaking through the ice. If you’re just beginning in your ice fishing career, the most practical and safest tool for the job is a hand operated or powered ice auger. Gasoline, propane, and electric power augers are available through most hunting/fishing retailers but typically cost a couple hundred dollars or more. A power auger will save a great deal of labor if you’re drilling multiple holes through thick ice, but they’re heavy and require fuel or large batteries and aren’t immune to mechanical failure.

If you’re a beginner, follow our ice fishing tips and invest in a hand-operated auger. A good hand auger can be purchased for less than $100. If you’re determined, a hand auger with sharp blades can bore through 12-inches of ice in less than a minute.

Rods, reels, and tip-ups

An ice fishing rod, also called a jigging rod or jigging stick resembles a miniature version of an open water rod/reel setup. The short length of the rod (typically 18 to 24 inches) allows you to use the rod within the confines of an ice tent or shelter.  The reels for these setups are identical to reels on warm water rods and are wound with the same monofilament or braided lines. Ice buildup on the line, guides, and in the spool is inevitable. However, you can mitigate the buildup to a degree with application of unscented mineral oil to the line and guides.

Alternatively, you can use a tip-up. A tip-up is a device equipped with a reel of line set to trigger a spring-loaded flag when you get a bite. There are a number of makes and models available but beware of the ultra-inexpensive models often found in ice fishing starter kits. They’re usually poorly made, don’t hold enough line, and are unlikely to last through the season.

Lures, Baits, and Rigs

Just like with open water fishing, your selection of lures will depend upon the species you’re targeting. Generally, varying sizes and styles of jigs are good for ice fishing because they don’t rely on casting and retrieving.

Clothing and comfort items

Selecting appropriate clothing for winter camping (or any outdoor winter activity) is essential and ice fishing is no different. Ice fishing tips for selecting the right clothing is similar to any other outdoor winter activity. Ice fishing consists of periods of activity (walking to a fishing spot, drilling holes) followed by periods of inactivity (watching tip-ups, jigging). Because you’ve worked up sweat and that sweat is now soaked in your clothing, you have an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation on your hands.

This ice fishing tip is similar to a winter hiking or winter camping tip. Bring extra articles of clothing to replace sweat-soaked items. Avoid cotton fabrics, dress in layers, and keep hand and foot warmer packets as part of your ice fishing kit.


Safety should be your number one concern with any winter camping activity or outdoor winter activity. The number of ice fishing fatalities every year is statistically nonexistent and almost all ice fishing deaths could have been prevented with a dose of common sense. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has a guide to safe ice conditions and an interactive map for your reference.

The Sandhills of Nebraska are a great place for winter camping and winter activities, like ice fishing. By following our ice fishing tips, you’re sure to have an ice fishing adventure you’ll remember for ages. The Sandhills Motel & Glidden Canoe Rental offers your perfect escape to enjoy the Sandhills of Nebraska for your winter hunting and fishing trips. Give us a call at (308) 546-2206 or 1 (888) 278-6167 or contact us here. Don’t forget to Like us on Facebook, and we hope to see you soon!

Canoe vs. Kayak: Different ways to take in the beautiful Sandhills of Nebraska

Posted by on Oct 8, 2015 in Blog, Dismal River Trips, Middle Loup River Trips, Relaxing Accommodations, River Adventures, Sandhills Motel | Comments Off on Canoe vs. Kayak: Different ways to take in the beautiful Sandhills of Nebraska

Autumn is in full swing, but that doesn’t mean we need to pack it on in for winter just yet! The weather is still plenty nice outside and we still have plenty of weeks of comfortable temperatures. Canoeing and kayaking autumn can be a truly beautiful experience as you drift down the river and take in the scenery of the changing leaves. What’s the best way to take in the beautiful Sandhills of Nebraska scenery? What’s the difference when traveling in a canoe vs. kayak down the Dismal or Middle Loup Rivers? We’ll go over some of the main differences in this month’s blog!

Canoe vs. Kayak: Paddling

When it comes to your river aCanoe vs. Kayakdventure in the Sandhills of Nebraska, you might want to consider which one is easier to paddle. Generally, kayaks are easier to paddle. In fact, when it comes to canoe vs. kayak debates, most first-timers quickly adapt to the double-bladed, side-to-side paddle stroke. A quick tutorial of the forward and back sweep makes the concept of turning fairly understandable. On the other hand, canoeing isn’t quite as easy. They can be more difficult to turn. Also, tandem boats require some level of cooperation and coordination between partners to move the boat in a straight line and handle the challenges of river paddling. A solo paddler in a canoe needs to master several variations of turning and maneuvering strokes.

While paddling a canoe vs. a kayak might be a little more difficult, you also have to remember how much work you’re putting into the effort. A kayaker, with a paddle blade dipping into the water with every body rotation, has a faster cadence, which means there’s constant motion and no rest for your muscles. On the other hand, a paddler in a canoe is doing work on one side before switching, so some muscles are able to recover and you might be a little more relaxed while taking in the views of the Sandhills of Nebraska.

Canoe vs. Kayak: Comfort

The Sandhills of Nebraska are serene, but kayaks aren’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when we think about comfort. “Being one with the boat,” is pretty accurate in describing a kayaking trip. Once you’re in a kayak, your feet are immobile against the foot pedals, your knees pressed outward to the sides of the kayak and your butt is on a contoured seat almost on the floor of the craft. It takes some getting used to for sure, and those with back problems won’t want to spend much time in a kayak.

In a canoe, you don’t have such a strained relationship with their boat. It’s more comfortable and sitting in it gives you room to stretch your legs. While you might lose some stability caused by sitting higher, it’s offset by being able to better see the water. Getting in and out of a canoe is nowhere as tricky as it is in a kayak. It usually requires doing a little balancing, using the gunnels for support. But entering or exiting is often a matter of just standing and stepping in or out.

Canoe vs. Kayak: Fishing

Unless you are in a specially designed fishing model, anglers will have a tougher time working out of a kayak. Rods and landing nets must be secured under decking lines and all tackle, as well as bait, will be in the cockpit with you. If you land a good-sized bass, walleye, or blue gills these lively game fish will be in your lap flopping around as you try to unhook them and get them on a stringer or released back into the lake. Compared to that scenario, the open area of a canoe seems a much friendlier environment to deal with fresh caught fish. However, while you might have more space, fishing in a canoe vs. a kayak means that you might not be able to get in to some of the more nimble areas that you might be able to access in a kayak while fishing in the Sandhills of Nebraska.

Canoe vs. Kayak: Portage

While both boat types have been designed for water travel, carrying a loaded sea kayak on land can be a daunting task. Hauling an empty kayak can even be troublesome because it doesn’t always fit easily on your shoulders and carrying it by hand straps puts some strain on the arms. If the kayak is emptied, you still have to carry all the many items that had been stuffed in the hatches. Daypacks make carrying your items easier, but then you’ve also got to pack the daypack in your already crammed kayak.

A canoe is much easier to portage. Good portage yokes attached to the gunnels and with gear consolidated into Duluth packs, canoe parties can easily balance the boats on shoulders and carry gear on their backs to the next body of water.

Canoe vs. Kayak: Gear

Because canoes have a larger open area, they have a greater carrying capacity, which means they tend to be better for longer trips. Packing for long kayak tours involves stowing all gear in the narrow confines of the boat’s interior. Fitting bulky items may be a challenge and sometimes impossible, which means you have to be willing to make some sacrifices on your trip and be inventive with your packing. If you intend on taking your kayak out for a few days, be sure to check out some recipes that fill you up while taking as little space as possible up in you vessel.

Canoe vs. Kayak: Transportation

Transporting a kayak by automobile is typically easier. Mostly because the higher profile of the canoe catches more wind than a kayak. Be sure that you also give special attention to strapping your kayak to a car tops. Thinner kayaks ride easier on the roof top. Most of the time, two kayaks can be racked on a basic rack, while there is usually only room for one tandem canoe.

When taking in the beautiful Sandhills of Nebraska, there’s really no right or wrong way. Canoe vs. kayak, it’s all about personal preference. Each has their distinct advantages and disadvantages and both are a wonderful way to experience the Dismal or Middle Loup Rivers that wind through the Sandhills of Nebraska. From our river adventure tours in canoes, kayaks, or stock tanks to fun camping, clean rooms and RV hookups, The Sandhills Motel & Glidden Canoe Rental offers your perfect Sandhills of Nebraska escape. Give us a call at (308) 546-2206 or 1 (888) 278-6167 or contact us here. Don’t forget to Like us on Facebook, and we hope to see you soon!

Tips and Tricks for Your Fall Camping Adventure in the Nebraska Sandhills

Posted by on Sep 14, 2015 in Blog | Comments Off on Tips and Tricks for Your Fall Camping Adventure in the Nebraska Sandhills

Nebraska Sandhills | fall camping

Nebraska Sandhills

Summer’s winding to a close. The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting longer. Many families plan their vacations during the spring and summer because of nicer weather, easier planning with kids being out of school, and more daylight. That doesn’t mean that your time outdoors has to end however. Fall camping in the beautiful Nebraska Sandhills can be a really great experience. With cooler nights, beautiful landscape, and the proper gear, the Nebraska Sandhills are one of the best fall camping destinations! We’ve got some tips and tricks to make your fall camping in the Nebraska Sandhills an experience you won’t forget.

Pack Smart

For spring and summer camping, “packing smart” means packing light. Carrying around less gear means carrying less weight, which means less work in the hot summer sun. Packing smart for fall camping is a little different. The days might be warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt, but as soon as the sun starts to set, the temperature is going to cool down drastically.

This means you need to pack layers of clothes that you can easily put on or take off in conjunction with the weather. These items include thermals, hats, gloves, wool socks, sweaters/sweatshirts and a warm winter jacket….items that keep you toasty in the evenings. Hand and foot warmers are also great for those chilly extremities (here’s a tip, fill a Nalgene bottle with hot water, seal it tight, and put it in your sleeping bag for a foot warmer). In addition to warm clothes, you have to have the right sleeping bag. Nights during your fall camping excursions can get pretty chilly, and it’s a good idea to bring a sleeping bag for lower temperatures than you’d expect. A sleeping bag rated for 0°F to 30°F should be sufficient for fall camping. Placing a foam pad underneath your sleeping bag will also help insulate you from the ground temperature and keep you warmer. If you plan on doing winter camping, you’ll have to have a sleeping bag rated for cooler temperatures. Fall camping can be great, but there’s nothing worse than being cold at night!

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

Preparation for any camping trip is essential. It can be the difference between either one of the best camping memories you have or one of the worst. Fall camping is no exception. In fact, camping in the fall takes a little more preparation than summer or spring camping. Depending on where you camp, you also need to pack for rain or snow. Rain gear like waterproof jackets, boots, ponchos, as well as tarps to keep the water out of your tent and off your campsite. If you’re bringing technology with you on your fall camping trip, a waterproof case for your phone will help keep your technology safe from sudden downpours. Garbage bags are also handy to keep backpacks nice and dry. It’s also not a bad idea to consider bringing a wood platform to keep your tent off the ground if you have room.

Keeping your tent and campsite dry is one thing, but you’ll also need to think about keeping your fire going at night. Waterproof matches, or matches kept in a waterproof container will help you start a fire. Keeping your firewood dry in the back of a vehicle or by building a small platform to stack your firewood on and covering it with a tarp. If you plan on only using a fire for your light and heat source at night, you’ll need to bring a lot of wood. Be efficient with the heat you produce and keep your pots and pans covered and use aluminum foil with your food when necessary. You can use fewer pieces of firewood by packing an LED headlamp or flashlight. Dry firewood means a roaring fire, and a roaring fire means warm nights for your fall camping adventure in the Nebraska Sandhills.

Eat Smart

The cooler temperatures of fall camping mean that cooking will take a little while longer. However, fall camping is also the perfect time to cook some hot, tasty comfort foods like chili and stew. This is also a great time to try out some camping recipes that might take a little more cook time than your traditional camping recipes. In the morning, you may have to get up extra early to get the fire going, coffee brewing and breakfast cooking so plan accordingly, but a hot meal to kick off the day is worth its weight in gold.

Earlier, we mentioned using tin foil and keeping lids on your pots and pans. Using these items helps you trap more heat around the food you’re trying to prepare, and also means you can get the same, great tasting food with a little more patience. Dutch Ovens are a great way to cook up hot meals and, in some ways, are better for cooking up those fall camping recipes than your regular pots and pans. A great cast iron dutch oven will allow you to through your ingredients in the pot, set your oven on the coals or hang it from a tripod, sit back, and enjoy while it slowly cooks. Because they’re cast iron, they distribute the heat evenly, which ensures a tasty meal.

Use Caution

Nebraska Sandhills | fall campingIt’s always smart to be cautious wherever you’re camping, but fall camping can be a particularly precarious time of year. Be mindful of the local wildlife. Fall can be an aggressive time for wildlife. Check for bee hives and wasp/hornet nests. Also, make sure you’re eliminating trash properly at your site. Keep your distance from wildlife and practice leaving little to no trace of your presence. During the fall, many types of wildlife are often engaged in mating rituals, so be careful to respect their space. In addition to mating rituals, many different forms of wildlife are foraging for hibernation, which means that they’ll be looking for the leftovers from your dutch oven.

Fall camping in the Nebraska Sandhills can be a truly magical experience. With a little time and a little preparation, you can easily enjoy the wonders of the Nebraska Sandhills for your fall camping adventures. Don’t miss the chance to discover the Nebraska Sandhills this fall. Visit our website, or give us a call at (308) 546-2206 to find out more information. Like Us on Facebook to stay up to date for all your Nebraska Sandhills fun!

Start Your Sandhills Bird Watching Adventure: Birding for Beginners

Posted by on Aug 10, 2015 in Bird Watching, Blog | Comments Off on Start Your Sandhills Bird Watching Adventure: Birding for Beginners

bird_1AThere’s something special about birding. Maybe it’s the science of it. Maybe it’s the poetry you can experience while viewing your first rare bird. Maybe it’s just the quiet reflection you have during your quest. Essentially, birding is a lifelong scavenger hunt, and you can play the game across the entire globe. Sandhills bird watching offers some great viewing opportunities for the Sandhills Crane migration and the Sharptailed Grouse and Prairie Chicken mating ritual just to name a few. Birding can be a wonderful—and sometimes life-changing—experience. You don’t have to wait for someone to invite you to join in on the fun. If you’ve always loved birds but never known how to actually make the leap, here’s how to begin your Sandhills bird watching adventure.


There won’t be a final exam, but you can begin your Sandhills bird watching experience by learning as much as possible before you start. Birding doesn’t require to you to hang up your skis or mountain bikes because of an aching body. You can enjoy birding as long as you can walk, roll, or look out a window. However, it’s important to take a moment to learn about what you’re getting into. Getting your hands on a field guide will go a long way in helping start your birding career. Any book will do as long as it has pictures of each bird and maps of their range. You don’t need to study this book cover to cover, but keep it in a place where you’ll be able to leisurely flip through it for a couple minutes each day. What are the different kinds of birds? Where do they live, and in what seasons? At this point, don’t worry at this point about how to identify anything, simply focus on figuring out what and where the birds are. In addition to your field guide, learn some things about avian biology and the sport of birding. Why are birds the way they are? How did they evolve into such magnificent creatures? In learning all you can about birds, you increase your excitement for birding. That excitement will only grow as you begin your birding career.

Get the Right Gear

One of the great things about birding is how little equipment you need to actually do it. For the beginners, all you really need to get started is something to hold to the eye to make those far-away little birds a bit bigger. Starting off, you don’t really don’t need to worry about what kind of binoculars you’re using. Use whatever you can get ahold of. For the beginning birder, it’ll be enough. If they do the job and make things far away seem closer, use them.

That’s it!  Some form of binoculars and the field guide you bought earlier are plenty to get started.  As you get better, you may want to invest in a nice camera or a spotting scope (for the really far-off birds), but they’re by no means required.

Start Exploring

Once you’re equipped with the basics, it’s time to actually get outside. The first experience is the most important. If you’re overwhelmed, or you don’t quite “get” what you’re supposed to be doing, you may not return for a second chance. So, just like any good outdoor adventure, start with a plan.

One of the best ways to start your plan is by simply picking a bird and finding it. Use the field guide you purchased and pick a bird you’ve never seen before—one that you’re reasonably sure lives nearby at that time of year—and go find it.  There are a lot of resources you can use to determine what birds have been seen nearby, from smartphone apps and local birding forums. Now all you have to do is simply go out into the actual world and start looking until you find it. The sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when the bird you’ve chosen suddenly flapping, paddling, or sitting in front of you, or watching a Sandhill Crane migration, is what birding is all about. Whether you’re in the Sandhills bird watching, or at the far corners of the globe, you’ll recapture that feeling with every new species you find.

Find Others


sandhill-crane-flying-close-upAfter you’ve gone on your first birding trip, there are many ways to proceed, and many of them will come naturally once you’ve started. Birding can be a relaxing solo walk in the woods garnished with bird sightings. However, birding can also be a social endeavor. One of the best ways to gain birding experience is to learn is from other people (going with a group to watch the Sharptailed Grouse and Prairie chicken mating ritual is a Sandhills bird watching site to behold)! Find local and national birding communities online and sign up for email lists for your area. That way, you can get emails that will tell you what people have been seeing, announce local bird outings, and connect you with members of your local birding club.

Birding can be an amazing experience, and because it’s so simple, anyone can do it. The Sandhills Motel & Glidden Canoe Rental offers a great place to stay during your Sandhills bird watching adventure and has an excellent knowledge of the Sandhills Cranes, Sharptailed Grouse, and Prairie Chickens. Contact us at (308) 546-2206 for more information on fall birding tours or visit our contact page to email us any questions. Like Us on Facebook and stay connected for your next birding adventure.

Tips and Ideas for Easy Camping Meals for Your Kayaking or Canoe Camping Adventure

Posted by on Jul 15, 2015 in Blog | Comments Off on Tips and Ideas for Easy Camping Meals for Your Kayaking or Canoe Camping Adventure

canoe+camping+foodThere are a lot of things that you need to take into consideration when you plan on going kayaking or canoe camping for an extended period of time. Even if you’re not canoe camping and only plan on being out on the river for a day, you need to make sure that you’ve got enough calories packed in your vessel to keep you going throughout the day. Not getting enough nutrition while you’re out on the river means that you’ll start to feel slower and sluggish. You’ll get tired easily. Once that starts happening, you’ll begin to make mistakes that may end up causing injury. We’ve got some tips and tricks to help you keep you energy level up throughout the day and your canoe camping trip running strong. They might not be fancy, but they’re camping meals that are easy to pack, easy to prepare, and loaded with nutrition.


There’s a reason it’s called the most important meal of the day. It’s extremely important that you eat a nutritional breakfast to help recoup lost calories and have plenty left for your body to burn until you eat lunch. These canoe camping meals are quick and easy.

Instant Oatmeal – This is one of our camping meals that is extremely popular because it’s easy to pack, easy to prepare, and loaded with nutrition to keep your fuel cells pumping all day.

Breakfast Bars – Typically, these bars have plenty of protein and the foil wrap keeps them dry, which is perfect for kayaking or canoe camping.

Canned Fruit – Canned fruit is easy to store, doesn’t require any cooking, and is a great way to start off the day.

Tortillas – While we wouldn’t recommend eating tortillas plain, they can easily be prepared and packed beforehand. Try spreading peanut butter on half and jelly on the other half and rolling them up. They’re also great with scrambled eggs and hot sauce. Tortillas are versatile as long as they’re dry, use them with your imagination to come up with some other great camping meals.


You’ve made it through half of your day, your breakfast is starting to wear thin. You don’t want to get out of your kayak, so what do you do? Planning ahead on trips like this is essential. Preparing camping meals for lunch can save you a lot of headache and, by keeping you on the river, you don’t have to worry about losing any ground by having to shore up and set up camp for lunch.

Mini Sandwich – Packing crackers, cheese, and summer sausage can give you a nice, quick and filling lunchtime camping meal.

Pitas – Pitas pack fairly easily. Stuff them with your favorite vegetables and some lunch meat for protein beforehand and pack them in watertight bags.

Tuna & Crackers – Canned tuna also packs well and some cans don’t even require a can opener. Add this to some crackers for a camping meal mixed with protein and carbohydrates to keep you going for the rest of your trip.

Soup – Plan ahead and make some extra hot water when you’re making your breakfast. Use instant soup mix and water in a thermos to keep the soup warm for the next few hours. This is especially good if you’re out during a chilly day.


You’re time spend paddling for the day is coming to an end. You’re ready to build a nice fire, stretch out, and replenish for tomorrow. One of the best parts of canoe camping is winding down at the end of a fantastic day on the river. Celebrate your adventure and prepare a camping meal fit for royalty.

Chicken and Rice – Use canned chicken, instant rice, and a bit of salsa if you prefer. Mix these together over the fire for a great protein boost.

Fish – If you caught any fish while you were on the river, clean it, and fry it up. Through a little olive oil in your pan, add some flour to the fish after you’ve skinned it and enjoy. Fish is an excellent source of protein and healthy amino acids.

Mac & Cheese – There many single serving packages of mac & cheese that are easily storable and require only hot water. Load up for tomorrow’s adventure with carbohydrates for dinner.

Meat & Potatoes – We did say eat like royalty, and we saved the best of our camping meals for kayakers and canoers for last. Use dried mashed potatoes with gravy and add boiling water to cook them. Use steak chunks & veggies (pre-cut and stored in seasoning with olive oil and dried gravy) pre-stored in tinfoil. Boil water on campfire to make mashed potatoes and the gravy. Then, simply cook the tinfoil package with the meat and veggies in it over the fire. Finally, toss the cooked packet over the mashed potatoes and top with gravy!

Canoe camping and kayaking can be an amazing experience and certainly can take the phrase “roughing it” to new levels. Being in a kayak or canoe means you don’t have the same amount of storage as you do at a typical campsite, but that doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice on food or nutrition. For your next canoe camping or kayaking adventure, visit the Sandhills Motel. Call us at 308.546.2206 or click here to contact us to make your reservations for your Nebraska canoe camping or kayaking adventure, and don’t forget to Like Us on Facebook!

Sunblock vs Sunscreen, Insect Repellent, and What You Need to Know

Posted by on Jun 8, 2015 in Blog | Comments Off on Sunblock vs Sunscreen, Insect Repellent, and What You Need to Know

The wait is over. Kids are out of school, families are going on vacation, and you’re ready to spend some time outdoors. If you plan on spending a nice day on one of our River Adventures, then you’ll absolutely need to know how to protect yourself and enjoy the ride. Even if you’re not planning on spending an entire vacation outdoors, chances are you’ll spend some time outside this summer. Whether for a BBQ with neighbors and friends, or a weekend camping, hiking, or on the water protecting your skin from UV rays and nasty bites is important. What kind of sunscreen should you use? What’s the difference between sunscreen and sunblock? Aren’t all insect repellents with DEET the same? We’ll guide you through the process and help you make a choice that suits your needs the best.

Sunscreen, sunblock, and insect repellents work differently for different people.  Some of us need to lather on the sunscreen every 15 minutes or risk getting so red we get blisters.  For others, one application is enough, and we’re barely pink.  The same goes for insect repellent.  Some methods work different for different people.  However, we do have some guidelines and tips to follow for you and your family.

Insect Repellent

One of the best methods to beat the bugs is to first treat your clothes with a spray-type insect repellent that contains DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide).  Then, use a spray or cream on your skin.  Creams are generally easier to pack, but some people don’t like the way the cream makes their skin feel oily. As we mentioned before, use a repellent that contains DEET. DEET works by confusing the insects smelling receptors, which means they can’t detect carbon dioxide around your body. When the bugs can’t smell you, they can’t bite you.

Bigger numbers mean better results, right? Not necessarily. Actually, it’s generally not recommended to use an insect repellent that contains more than 30% DEET.  The percentage of DEET in an insect repellent doesn’t matter how effective it is against keeping bugs from biting. The DEET concentration measures the amount of time the DEET will last. If you’re planning on doing a short, two-hour hike, then insect repellent with 7%-10% DEET will work perfectly fine.  If you’re planning on going for an all-day hike, make sure the repellent contains 20%-30% DEET.  Contrary to what you might think, there’s actually no need for insect repellent 100% DEET because it’s such a strong chemical. A 100% concentration of DEET is not going to be more effective than a lower concentration. In fact, too much exposure to such a high concentration can be dangerous over time.

Sunblock vs Sunscreen

Most people use the terms sunscreen and sunblock interchangeably, which adds to the confusion of the great sunblock vs sunscreen debate. However, there’s a distinct difference between the two.

  • Sunscreen

Sunscreen is a chemical-based substance. The chemicals in sunscreen absorb UV rays and release them as little amounts of heat. Sunscreen does allow some of the sun’s rays to reach the skin. However, the effect of these rays are minimal. Some people are allergic to some of the chemicals in sunscreen so they opt for sunblock instead.

  • Sunblock

Sunblock is a mineral-based substance that physically reflects UV rays, like a bunch of tiny mirrors.  Many types sunblock are opaque and a generally thicker by nature. Because of this thick nature, they’re harder to adequately cover parts of the body.

Whichever product of the sunblock vs sunscreen question you decide on, make sure you use a product of the no scent/low scent variety. Many of the perfumes and scents put into sunscreens only attract more insects and, sometimes, other potentially dangerous animals depending on your region.  Both types of sunscreen have their advantages and disadvantages.  Sunscreen is easier to apply but may irritate some people with sensitive skin.  Sunblock can be harder to apply and may leave white streaks on the skin.  Sunblock vs sunscreen, which one is better? They’re both equally effective. Choose the type that works best for you. Some people also choose to carry around a small tube of SPF 50 for areas with thinner skin like the ears.  Depending on how sensitive to the sunlight you are, you maybe want to consider doing this.

As with DEET, you need don’t spend more money for SPF 100.  No product—sunblock vs sunscreen—is going to completely absorb/block UV rays.  A product with SPF 50 blocks approximately 98% of UV rays.  Any product claiming to be higher than SPF 50, will only block very small levels above 98%. Whichever type you choose (sunblock vs sunscreen), make sure it’s at least SPF 30, which is the current recommendation by the American Academy of Dermatologists to provide adequate protection.

Whether you’re camping, canoeing, kayaking, or tanking, make sure your skin is protected. Contact us for motel reservations, a River Adventure, or a relaxing weekend of camping and enjoy your time in the Nebraska Sandhills.

Tanking: Nebraska’s Favorite Pastime

Posted by on May 8, 2015 in Blog | Comments Off on Tanking: Nebraska’s Favorite Pastime

If you’re researching things to do on your vacation to the Nebraska Sandhills, chances are you might have come across some websites about tanking for short. Never heard of tanking? Don’t worry, most people outside of the Midwest haven’t. However, tanking is a fun pastime that the whole family can enjoy.

Tanking is a pastime that started in the Nebraska Sandhills. Over the years, and through the many Nebraska streams, was carried throughout the rest of the state and, eventually throughout the Midwest. In fact, according to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, Nebraska has approximately 24,000 miles of flowing rivers and streams and about 430 square miles of lakes and carried on throughout the state on the many shallow and slow-flowing streams. With all of the water in Nebraska, it’s easy to understand why we love spending so much time tanking. It’s a wonderful way to spend time with family, take in the scenery, and enjoy the local wildlife.

What is it exactly? Well, tanking is fairly simple. People take plastic or metal livestock tanks (used for feeding or watering the livestock), fit them with comfortable seating, and float them down the river. The livestock tanks typically hold about four to eight people, depending on the size of the tank, the kind of seating you’re using, and the amount of gear you’ve packed. Instead of buying a boat and keeping it at a lake, river tanking provides a cheap alternative that let’s your friends and family explore regions where boats are prohibited.

In addition to being cheaper, river tanking also provides some other benefits. First of all, the tanks are easier to get in and out of than a typical canoe. Unlike a canoe, you won’t have to worry about a tank tipping over in the water. Because the tanks don’t tip over, tanking is generally safer than regular canoeing. Of course, you still want to make sure you and those in your group wear life jackets and take safety precautions on your tanking adventure. Another fun aspect of river tanking is that your group can eat lunch and play board games while floating down the rivers and streams of the Nebraska Sandhills.

River tanking is nothing new to Nebraska natives. In fact, if we could, we’d do it all year long. So whether the Nebraska Sandhills are your final destination, or just a waypoint on your vacation, be sure to stop by the Sandhills Motel and get some river tanking fun.