Now that I have figured out how to easily post photographs onto the Forum, you need not take my word for the beauty to be discovered just off of the highway.
Crawford, Nebraska is the hub for an extraordinary area. Just four miles west of Crawford is Fort Robinson, Nebraska. Crazy Horse was killed here in 1876 and buried in the plains to the north, away from the Fort. The facilities at this Fort are excellent. You can find tent camping, trailer sites and rooms for rent . Restored structures from the Indian War days are next to the camping area. After several days camped at the number of areas available, you will understand why the Sioux and Cheyenne fought so hard to keep this area and the Black Hills. Use the Olympic sized, heated, indoor and partially outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, the local town rodeos, horseback riding, and the live theater activities that change ever summer. One photo shows us parked to register at the Nebraska Parks office. You need to purchase a daily or annual park pass (good at all Nebraska parks for a year) to enter the park grounds/roads. Security is polite, but they will find you driving around without the sticker... trust me, stop in if you plan to stick around.
To the north of Crawford you will find Toadstool Park. It is also a State Park of the same kind of Badlands that South Dakota offers, just smaller scale... and you can wander around at will in them. Petrified remains of 38,000,000 year old deer, squirrel, rabbits, mice, horse, camel, saber tooth cats, rhino, lizard, snakes, snails and even duck eggs have been found washing out here. Petrified tortoises (turtles, just a larger one) can be half a foot to the size of a spare tire are washing out, everywhere.
If you want to Rockdock and find your own camping spot, go several miles north of Toadstool Park. Just south of a ghost town called Orella you can make a turn to the west and cross over the railroad tracks. You will travel several miles and recognize the area in one of the photographs I added. That is "Telegraph Hill" to the south, take the two rut road to the south and this is National Grasslands. No trees here, but tall grass to set up your camp. Pull off the road and set up camp. There are thousands of acres of Badlands to climb and explore. The Hudson-Meng bison site is to the south. Indians 10,000 years ago wandered these hills. At that time large game and water was plentiful along the bluffs. Elephants too. See those at the museum at Fort Robinson. They are from this area. Not sure, stop at the Crawford visitor center, just south of the ice cream shop. They can tell you how to find the road to go to Toadstool, less than a quarter mile north of the ice cream shop on Highway 71. If you are in the National Grasslands, climb a high spot and look to the north. Those dark bumps on the horizon are the Black Hills (Hot Springs, South Dakota). You can visit the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse monument from here. Yellow Hand, killed by Buffalo Bill in a hand to hand fight, is buried in these hills, somewhere. Crazy Horse's burial still remains unknown... although I might have an idea one of these chiefs are buried to the west, north of Harrison, Nebraska. But "I ain't talking" any more...
At Hot Springs, South Dakota is a wonderful fossil elephant mortality site at an ancient spring has been excavated is located on the south side of town. Further north is the Hot Springs swimming pool with slides that will scare the kids you have with you. Not a "hot" spring, more of a luke warm spring at the most.
The State of Nebraska can send you all the brochures you desire of the area. I have been going here since I was a teenager in 1965
. The ranchers have come and gone, the Fort has changed from an "old fort" to a destination. I promise you... you will be talking to everyone about this special area of Nebraska. If you camp in the National Grasslands among the grasslands next to the Badlands, that morning when the sun rises... you will come back. Friends I have been taking out there since the late 1960's all have returned, never forgetting the moon like surface, you can walk upon. It is like the area will grab your heart and imagination, never letting your soul leave without one more visit... just one more ... visit. Just one more. I promise you, you will make one more visit in your lifetime. Just... one more, if I am so lucky.