Crane Season

Guided Crane Viewing Experience

Making reservations, helpful tips & photography policy.

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 discovery stations are strategically placed along the Platte River to provide excellent views of the Sandhill Cranes while they roost on the river. The Guided Crane Viewing Experience provides guests with the opportunity to observe thousands of cranes as they fly into the Platte River at dusk, and lift off from the river at dawn.

Ages: 10 Years + 

Cost: $50/person/tour (Plus taxes and fees).

Time and Duration: 3 hours. Tours are available in both morning and evening. Please plan to arrive 15 minutes before your tour. 

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 NOT use tripods and continuous shooting mode during the Guided Crane Viewing Experience. Monopods are allowed.
  • Objects (i.e., camera lens) must not extend beyond the window of the discovery station. 
  • Use of tablets is prohibited.
  • Cell phones must be placed on airplane mode. LCD screens must be dimmed. Auto focus lights should be turned off if possible.
  • No Flashlights allowed.
  • Rowe Sanctuary reserves the right to ban use of any device determined to be a nuisance.

Important Details:

  • You may need to walk up to a half a mile to and from the discovery station in the dark. We do have the capacity to help with ambulatory needs for this experience when indicated on your reservation.
  • Dress in warm clothing (i.e., winter coat, insulated gloves, stocking cap, wool socks and thermal layers). Temperatures in March and April regularly reach below freezing and blinds are not heated.
  • Dress in dark-colored clothing to minimize disturbance to cranes.
  • To help protect guests, staff, and volunteers from COVID-19 transmission, all guests are required to wear a dark-colored face mask.
  • You are welcome to bring warm drinks and snacks into the discovery station.
  • You must stay in the discovery station for the duration of your tour with the exception of toilets located outside of your discovery station.
  • Reservations are limited to 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.

How you can help, right now