Crane Season

Overnight Photography Experience

Spend a night with thousands of cranes!

Every spring, around one million Sandhill Cranes converge in the Platte River Valley of central Nebraska before continuing migration to northern breeding grounds. Rowe Sanctuary’s overnight blinds are strategically placed along the Platte River to provide excellent views of the Sandhill Cranes while they roost on the river. The Overnight Crane Photography Experience provides guests with the opportunity to spend the night in a viewing blind on the banks of the Platte River and photograph thousands of cranes as they fly into the river at dusk, and lift off at dawn.

Cost: $250/blind (Plus taxes and fees). Limit to 2 people.

Time and Duration: Approximately 16 hours. Combined evening and morning experience. Please plan to arrive 15 minutes before your experience. 

Location: All tours begin at the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center, at 44450 Elm Island Road, Gibbon, NE 68840. Take I-80 Exit 285 (Gibbon exit) and drive south two miles to Elm Island Road, then turn west (right) onto Elm Island Road and travel two miles to the Center parking lot entrance located on the north side of the road. Drive time from south Kearney to the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center is approximately 20-25 minutes.  From Grand Island, drive time is 45-50 minutes.

Photography Policy:

  • Use of flash photography not allowed to minimize disturbance to cranes.
  • Participants may use tripods and continuous shooting mode during the Overnight Crane Photography Experience.
  • Objects (i.e., camera lens) must not extend beyond the window of the overnight blind. 
  • Tablets are not allowed and cell phones must be placed on silent. Camera LCD screens must be dimmed. Auto focus lights should be turned off if possible.
  • Rowe Sanctuary reserves the right to ban use of any device determined to be a nuisance.

 Important Details:

  • A guide will assist with transporting you and your gear to the overnight blind.
  • Blinds are 6 ft. H x 8 ft. W x 6 ft. D. and are carpeted. Window heights are designed for sitting.
  • Temperatures in March and April regularly reach below freezing and blinds are not heated. You are responsible for bringing the proper equipment and clothing to stay warm overnight. Suggested items include a dark colored winter coat, insulated gloves, stocking cap, wool socks, extra clothing including thermal layers, a 0 degree sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillow, camp chair, food and water.
  • No heaters or stoves of any type.
  • A porta-potty is provided in your overnight blind.
  • You are required to remain in your overnight blind during the entire duration of the experience until your guide arrives the following morning, with the exception of medical emergencies. If you are not experienced at cold weather camping or do not have adequate gear, you should consider signing up for one of our morning or evening viewing trips instead. 
  • No alcoholic beverages or smoking allowed.
  • Small red flashlights are provided and non-red lights are not allowed. No headlamps please.
  • To help protect guests, staff, and volunteers from COVID-19 transmission, all guests are required to wear a dark-colored face mask during the check-in and check-out process.
  • Failure to cooperate with rules results in a lifetime ban from this experience.
  • Reservations are limited to 2 adults.
  • Pre-payment is required. We accept Visa, MasterCard & Discover.
  • Cancellations are refundable up to 14 days prior to your trip, but are subject to a 5% charge on your purchase total.
  • We appreciate your understanding that every crane viewing experience is unique. Although the weather during your tour and location where cranes choose to roost is beyond our control, we will always do our best to make your Rowe Sanctuary experience unforgettable.

Please be aware that ALL of our current programming is subject to change.

We will be evaluating local conditions throughout the crane migration in order to determine the extent that Rowe Sanctuary’s public events and crane viewing opportunities can take place. The safety of our staff, volunteers, and guests are the utmost priority.

As you begin planning for your 2022 crane viewing experience; please use the following guidelines to assist in your decision making.

Rowe Sanctuary’s current plan for operating during the 2022 Crane Season:

We will be working with our local health department, two rivers public health department, the state of Nebraska and the National Audubon Society as guidance on our safety procedures during the 2022 Crane Season. Please realize all tours are subject to cancellation and refunds will be available when Covid-19 precautions change our scheduling.

If you have any questions, please call the center at (308) 468-5282.

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