The Wildcat Hills are an escarpment of sandstone bluffs and buttes on the southern ridge of the North Platte River Valley in the Nebraska Panhandle. The bluffs run along the southern ridge for about 60 miles from the southwestern edge of Bridgeport to the Nebraska-Wyoming border.
The bluffs that cover the valley range in elevation from 4500 feet - 5200 feet. The summits of these bluffs are densely forested with pine trees. Wild animals such as mountain lions, deer, elk, and more run free in the forests.
There are a number of ways to reach the area. US Route 26 will drive past the scenic bluffs. The Kimball exit off I-80 takes you on State Route 71. The route winds through the mid-altitude bluffs. State Route 92 also spans the length of the valley below.
The easiest way to reach the Wildcat Hills is by driving. There is only one highway route through the bluffs, and that is State Route 71. All the other routes are gravel or dirt. Hiking is highly recommended in this area of scenic beauty.
- Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area preserves the highest points in the Wildcat Hills. It also preserves some of the wildlife found in the area, and has some of the best recreational opportunities in the area.
- Chimney Rock National Historic Site preserves a historical outbranch of the bluffs called Chimney Rock. The rock is about 325 feet above the valley floor. It was a very important stop along the Oregon, Mormon, and California Trails.
- Scotts Bluff National Monument preserves huge outcrops of the Wildcat Hills near the town of Gering. The bluffs rise over 850 feet from the valley floor. The monument's local-famed Summit Road winds through three tunnels to the very summit of the bluff, giving some of the best panoramic and picturesque views in the area.
- Hiking is what a large number of people do when in the area. The trails (most trails are in Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area) give hikers panoramic vistas of the valley. Chimney Rock and Scotts Bluff are sights spotted from many of these vistas.
- Camping is also another great way to experience the area.
The area is known for some of the most brutal weather in the state. During the spring and summer, very severe thunderstorms and sometimes tornadoes are common in the area. During winter, dangerous blizzards pass the area frequently.
Steep slopes and cliffs can be dangerous for hikers. Stay on the trails and watch your step. Also, the prairie rattlesnake is common around the Wildcat Hills. Although an encounter with one of these is very rare, it can happen.