Scotts Bluff, Nebraska

Situated in Scotts Bluff County of western Nebraska is a geological landmark that was well known to 19th-century pioneers following the Oregon, California and Mormon Pioneer trails. Called Scotts Bluff, this feature is actually a collection of several steep bluffs that rise some 800 feet above the plains. The dominant bluff is named after Hiram Scott, an explorer/trader who suffered a tragic death near there in 1828. The North Platte River flows on the north side of the bluff. Pioneers using the Oregon and California trails trekked along the North Platte on the same (south) side of the river.

Pioneers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints generally followed the Mormon Pioneer Trail on the north side of the river. Presently, the city of Scottsbluff (one word) is situated at the base of Scotts Bluff (two words; the apostrophe was officially dropped from “Scotts Bluff” in 1941), which is now a United States national monument.

Scotts Bluff. Photo (2006) by Kenneth Mays.

It was near Scotts Bluff that Brigham Young addressed the members of the vanguard pioneer company in late May 1847 declaring, “I am about to revolt from traveling with this camp!” His feeling was that the members of that company were not following the standards of gospel living as they ought to. President Young was frustrated with their light mindedness, card playing, excessive levity, quarreling, profane language and neglecting to observe the Word of Wisdom. After receiving President Young’s stern rebuke, members of the company covenanted with uplifted hands to “turn to the Lord with all their hearts, to repent of all their follies”

Ownership Status

The Scotts Bluff landmark is a National Monument managed by the National Park Service. As such, it is subject to traditional regulations as stipulated by the NPS. Information can be found at https://www.nps.gov/scbl/index.htm.

It is worthy of note to inform potential visitors that the name of the geological feature and national monument is two words: Scotts Bluff. The adjacent city is one word: Scottsbluff.

Maps & Directions

Photos

Scotts Bluff. Photo (2006) by Kenneth Mays.
Walking trail leading to the top of Scotts Bluff. Photo (2006) by Kenneth Mays.
The summit of Scotts Bluff. Photo (2006) by Kenneth Mays.

Articles & Resources

Resources

We’ll Find the Place: The Mormon Exodus 1846-1848,” by Richard E. Bennett, pages 160-166).