Midwestern US, US High Points

On Top of Nebraska: Panorama Point

The highest point in Nebraska, Panorama Point, is located just across the border from both Colorado and Wyoming in the middle of basically nowhere. The elevation at Panorama Point is 5424 feet (1653 m) – higher than I would have expected for a plains state. But one thing differentiates this high point from most of the others we’ve visited, and that is the fact that this one is in no way a summit. It’s simply a spot on the plains that’s very slightly higher than the surrounding landscape. If it wasn’t marked, you’d never even know it was there.

Nonetheless, we’ve now stood on the highest point in Nebraska.

Reaching Panorama Point requires no hiking. In fact, you’re not allowed to hike to it. It’s on private property in the middle of High Point Bison Ranch, and a sign at the entrance gate instructs you to stay in your car until you get to the high point marker. We deposited our $3/person entry fee into the slot and then drove through the gate and up to the high point.

This was the first state high point I’d made it to in nearly three years, the last being Tennessee and North Carolina back in 2018. Ever since we arrived in Colorado, I’ve been meaning to visit a bunch of them. There are quite a few that aren’t too far away. But somehow all these plans never came to fruition. However – spoiler alert – you’re reading this about three months after the fact, and since then I’ve reached four more high points. Maybe I’ll call 2021 the ‘year of the high point.’

Anyway.

Driving through the middle of nowhere – and a massive wind farm – en route to Nebraska
Entry to High Point Bison
Panorama Point, looking west toward Wyoming
Nebraska high point handstand!
Nebraska hasn’t embraced wind power… the windmills end at the Colorado border. As you can see, this high point is located very close to the border.

Panorama Point sits about 1 mile (1.6 km) away – as the crow flies – from the Wyoming/Nebraska/Colorado tri-state marker, also on High Point Bison Ranch. There is no route through the ranch, so getting there requires about a 10 minute drive out and around.

The marker itself is at the end of something that I guess could be called a road along the Wyoming/Colorado state line. We actually almost didn’t visit this tri-point because, upon arrival at the turnoff, we were met with an open gate into a field… and a ‘No Trespassing’ sign on the adjacent fence. So we decided that meant we probably shouldn’t go.

About a mile further along the highway, we entered back into the realm of phone service and I was able to look it up and verify that the landowners do in fact allow people to visit when the gate is open, despite the sign. So we flipped around and made our way down the “road” – which was basically two parallel ruts – out to the tri-state marker. It’s located just past a windmill, and the path around the windmill was in pretty terrible shape. You’ll need a car with a little bit of clearance to make it out here; between the ruts and the bumps, my Corolla probably would have gotten stuck.

WY-CO-NE tri-point marker

I think it’s safe to say that most Americans have heard of Four Corners – the place where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado meet. It’s the only point in the US where four states come together. But most people aren’t familiar with the 61 tri-state points in the US; places where 3 states meet. Thirty seven of them are on land and the remaining 24 are in the middle of a body of water. Most of the land-based ones have some sort of monument or marker present. Five of them actually happen to include Colorado, so I just might have to add them to my list of obscure places to visit.

(Which gives me an excuse to make a new list called ‘obscure places to visit’ 🤣)

This particular tri-state marker was placed on August 17, 1869 by surveyor Oliver N. Chaffee at 41°N and approximately 104°W (from 1850-1912, Washington DC was used as the meridian in the US, so the marker is at 27°W of DC). Chaffee actually surveyed much of the western border of Nebraska, placing periodic markers to denote the Wyoming/Nebraska border. Using today’s modern GPS technology, it has been discovered that all of the markers are accurate to within 272 feet (83 m) or less… pretty impressive given the primitive surveying techniques they relied on!

And lastly, this was my first time setting foot in Nebraska making this state #45 for me… only 5 more to go!

A little out of place, but I wanted to give a shoutout to Crabtree Brewing Company in Greeley, CO. We stopped here on the way home and oh man were the beers delicious! It’s definitely one of our favorite CO breweries we’ve been to and their Lost in Translation beer is one of our favorites ever!

The Important Stuff:

  • Getting there: our GPS actually didn’t quite get us there, leading us to a house about 0.5 miles past the high-point turnoff; fortunately I’d done some research and recognized the High Point Bison sign and entrance gate. There is almost no phone service out here so be prepared to navigate without your GPS
  • Fees and passes: $3/person fee to visit the high point, cash only; visiting the tri-state marker is free
  • Hiking: none; as mentioned above, this is an active bison ranch and you’re not allowed to hike
  • Other: both the high point and the tri-state marker are on private land and it’s very kind of landowners to allow people to visit. They’re certainly not obligated to do so. Please respect their land and the rules for visitation so these points can continue to remain accessible for all who want to visit.

22 thoughts on “On Top of Nebraska: Panorama Point”

  1. Fascinating info that I never heard before — 61 tri-state points in the U.S., 37 of them on land. And interesting how long ago the surveyors nailed it. I love that you do these perfect handstands on the highest points, Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was just passing through the area and decided ride my bike to this point. I didn’t know about the property restrictions till I got to the sign, but decided to risk it quickly. Never even sighted the herd. Fun ride though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s quite impressive that you’ve been to 45 states. I assume you’ve done a handstand in each one. The highest point in Nebraska seems a bit underwhelming, but sometimes it’s about the journey rather than the destination! The drive to get there sounds like quite the adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That is just SO Nebraska to have a high point that looks, well, like most of the rest of the state: flat as a pancake. You’ve given me much to think about (and possibly copy). I don’t really have a 50 states goal, but the idea of standing on the high point of all 50 states? Now that’s something I could get behind! I promise I won’t do a handstand on them like you do. I’ll, I dunno, take a boring regular photo or something. Also, the paragraph about tri-state markers has me thinking: what a good subject for a travel quiz on the podcast! Usually when I suggest quiz topics to the husband he ignores them, so maybe I’ll keep this one to spring on him sometime, so HE can be in the hot seat. Finally, I’m super curious to know which 5 states remain for you.

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    1. Oooh that would be a fun travel quiz topic! I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes. Perhaps the state high points could make for some fun quiz topics as well. Could be a fun activity to do at the summit of each one 😊

      My last 5 states are Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alaska, and Hawaii

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, I think realistically I can get 45 or 46 out of 50, but those last few technical ones I’m not sure I’ll ever summit. Especially Denali. My goal is just to get as many as I can and we’ll see what happens 🤷🏼‍♀️

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, you’ve been to 45 states? I know so many people who would love to join the All 50 Club and looks like you are not too far from the amazing accomplishment of visiting all fifty states. For many Europeans, visiting every country in Europe is one of the ultimate travel goals, but you’ll definitely run into a lot of people with lots of opinions about it. The debate always centres around questions such as whether or not it counts if you don’t spend the night, if you only drive through a state, or if you just have a long layover. Either way, I love the vast open spaces and seemingly never-ending sky of Nebraska. I’d say it’s a perfect place for stargazing. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day 🙂 Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh all the countries in Europe is a fun goal! We have the same debate here about what counts as having been somewhere. In fact, my fiancé and I can’t even agree on that. There’s one state I’ve been to that I never left the airport. But my feet touched the ground there so I say it counts. He says it doesn’t. One day I’ll just have to return to that state to actually explore it and then there will be no doubt as to whether it counts 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You’ve been busy … 45 states, that’s quite special! May I ask what are the remaining 5 states? And that looks like a handstand literally in the middle of nowhere 😁. But hey, who would not want to end a day with those nice looking beers!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. If this is the year of high points, you should add Oregon’s Mount Hood to your list. I did it twice when I was younger and although it would take some basic mountaineering equipment and a guide, with the hikes you have taken since the pandemic, you would have no problem accomplishing it.

    Perhaps the only challenge would be narrowing it down to one brewery on your way back to Portland!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, you’ve been to 45 states?? I’m barely on number 15, so that’s incredible! The only thing I’ve heard about Nebraska are its cornfields (although I believe it can apply to other states nearby, like Kansas or Iowa…), so it’s awesome to hear that there’s so much more to it than just that! Perhaps I’ll have to head over there someday…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve traveled much more internationally than I have though! I’ve only been to 3 other countries. When I was a kid we didn’t have the money to fly many places so our annual vacation was always just a US roadtrip. I do feel lucky though to have explored so much of this country.

      Western Nebraska is surprisingly neat. I actually visited a couple other places there last month so I’ll be posting about that soon and you’ll see even more variety! I think all the cornfields must be further to the east.

      Liked by 1 person

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