Crane Viewing

Rowe - Cranes in River
Don Brockmeier

Rowe Sanctuary's viewing blinds are strategically placed along the Platte River to provide excellent views of the sandhill cranes while they are on their river roost.  Viewings are scheduled daily during March and early April (see dates & times below), last approximately two hours and are led by trained guides.  Walking distances to the viewing blinds range from 1/4 to 1/2 mile over relatively level terrain, with a portion of the walk occuring during very low light conditions (well before sunrise & well after sunset).  Our viewing blinds are wooden structures with carpeted floors, that hold up to 32 people. They offer shelter from wind, rain, and snow, but are not heated and will be as cold or colder than it is outside.

To help determine when you should visit, please review our 'Plan Your Trip' page before making a reservation.  If you would like to bring children or a member of your party has ambulatory issues, please contact us at 308-468-5282 for options.

To Make a Reservation:

Please review the information below prior to making a reservation.  Reservations can be made starting the first business day of January by calling 308-468-5282 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST, M - F or online at

For a printable brochure, click here.

Dates for 2016:
March 5 - April 10

Fees (sales tax not included):

March 5 - 17: $25.00/person/trip

March 18 - April 3 (Peak Season): $35.00/person/trip

April 4 - April 10: $25.00/person/trip

Pre-payment is required and can be done with Visa or MasterCard.
Note: Cancellations are refundable up to 7 days prior to your trip, but are subject to a 5% charge on your purchase total.

Field trip start times: (Note change in start times due to Daylight Savings Time)
5:00 a.m. & 5 p.m.  March 5 - March 12
6:00 a.m. & 6 p.m.  March 13 - April 10

Please arrive 15 minutes prior to the start times listed above.

Where to Meet:
All field trips start at the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center. The easiest way to get to the center from Kearney is to take I-80 to exit 285 (Gibbon exit) and follow the signs. From I-80, it is roughly 2 miles south to Elm Island Road and then another 2 miles west to the center. You will receive further instructions once you reach the visitor center parking area.

Drive time from south Kearney to the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center is approximately 20-25 minutes.

N 40deg 40.178
W 98deg 53.088

March and April can be very cold and you will be standing in an unheated blind for about 2 hours, so dress appropriately. It is better to wear too much than not enough!

What to Wear:

  • The warmest coat and clothing you have, including long underwear
  • The warmest boots you have, along with wool or synthetic socks (avoid cotton)
  • Very warm mittens or gloves
  • Stocking cap or insulated hat
  • Please wear dark clothing as this helps us to blend in with our surroundings when walking to and from the blinds

What to Bring:

  • Binoculars and spotting scopes
  • Camera (NO FLASHES) &/or video camera - See 'Photography Policy' below
  • Warm drinks & snacks (chemical toilets are outside each blind)
  • Flashlights or NOT allowed

Photography Policy

Cameras are welcome in our viewing blinds, provided they do not place the cranes at risk or detract from the experience for others.  Below are rules/guidelines for all photographers, regardless the size of the equipment:

  • Rowe Sanctuary reserves the right to ban use of any device determined to be a nuisance.
  • No flash allowed.  All flashes and focusing lights on cameras must be covered with black plastic tape before arriving for the tour.
  • Please use your view finder instead of your LCD screen when taking pictures.  The light from the LCD screen illuminates the person taking the picture and increases the chances for flushing cranes near the blinds.
  • Tablets (i.e. - Ipads, etc.) and phones are not allowed due to the size of the viewing screen.
  • If you have a large lens, it cannot extend outside of the window.  This applies to everything else as well (i.e. - hands, face, binoculars, spotting scope, etc.).
  • If you have equipment (camera or spotting scope) that requires a tripod, the legs of the tripod must not extend beyond your allotted space in the blind.
  • If you would like to take pictures in continuous mode, please turn off the sound to your camera.  If this is not possible, you will be asked to discontinue and to take individual pictures.  Noise of any type can detract from the experience of others in the blind.

Please be aware that our blinds offer excellent panoramic views of large flocks of cranes, but may not provide good opportunities for close-up photographs unless you have at least a 400mm lens or larger. For a more intimate experience, Rowe Sanctuary has overnight photo blinds set up near major crane roost sites on the river.

Downloadable Resources

Copyright  2015 National Audubon Society, Inc