Butterfly Byway

“The Butterfly Byway reminds us to pay attention to these subtle indicators of environmental health and the importance of pollinators in the big picture.”

—Kat Shiffler, pollinator researcher

In recent years, a global conversation has emerged about plummeting numbers of pollinator species. The regal fritillary in this poster is seen resting on one of it’s favorite food sources, milkweed. It’s habitat is the shrinking tall- and mixed-grass prairies. Managing and preserving the remaining prairies is intregal to this butterfly’s survival.

See butterflies and other pollinators at the below places!


Loup Rivers Scenic Byway

More than a dozen gardens are underway along the Loup Rivers Scenic Byway, a mosaic of visually appealing, biodiverse habitats, carefully-planned to benefit the pollinators that benefit us in so many ways. Individuals and towns are in the process of certifying their gardens with the North American Butterfly Association and the Butterfly Byway will be launched for the public in Spring 2015. Check the Loup Rivers Scenic Byway website for a map and guide or call the Loup Basin Resource Conservation & Development office at (308) 346-3393.

Calamus Outfitters

(308) 346-4697
Burwell Way
Burwell, NE 68823

Calamus Outfitters is a family-owned business providing outdoor recreational activities for diverse kinds of tourists: from hunters, to serious birdwatchers to families who want to float down the river or lounge at the nearby Calamus Reservoir. The operation is located in the north central Nebraska Sandhills, near Burwell, right along the Calamus Reservoir, a prominent regional tourist attraction. They see a massive influx of monarchs when they migrate in the fall, which you can read about on our blog.

Uncle Buck’s Lodge

(308) 547-2210
455 Brewster Ave
Brewster, NE 68821

While visiting the lodge, experience the diverse ecosystem of the Sandhills grasslands, which supports a distinct population of plants and animals. Fields are filled with grasses and wildflowers, cacti and other desert plants, and lush marshes that buzz with birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. Researchers have counted 134 different vertebrate species associated with a community of prairie dogs alone. Tours also include visits to historic sites, such as an authentic sod house, and how to prepare meals from plants gathered from the grasslands.

Big Blue Ranch

(402)-865-4335
70901 609th Avenue
Burchard, NE 68323

Big Blue Ranch is a place to enjoy the Great Plain’s wildlife and scenery on an operating cattle ranch. Along with tradiational hunting and fishing, ranch activities feature horseback riding, nature photography, and bird watching. It’s an especially great place to see the greater prairie chicken and blue herons. It’s a relaxing get away close to Lincoln, Omaha, and Kansas City. The ranch has been honored with a number of conservation awards including the Rangeland Conservation Award from the Lower Big Blue NRD. The open prairie, woodlands, and lakes are home to many species including coyote, bobcat, red squirrel, fox, and leopard frogs. The ranch’s owners, Billie Kay and Scott Bodie, have continuously worked to improve the sustainability and diversity of their pastures through rotational grazing, inter-seeding with beneficial species, and controlled burning.

Rowe Sanctuary – Audubon

(308) 468-5282
44450 Elm Island Rd
Gibbon, NE 68840

The preserved grasslands at Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary border the Platte River and are home to many pollinator species. Rowe has one of the highest concentrations of regal fritillary butterflies in the country, but visitors may also spot: orange sulfurs, eastern tailed blues, red admirals, and common wood nymphs.

Spring Creek Prairie

(402)-865-4335
70901 609th Avenue
Burchard, NE 68323

Spring creek prairie managers have found 53 species of butterfly and 35 species of dragonfly on the prairie. Butterflys spotted include black swallowtail, little glassywing, harvester, and regal fritillary.

Double R Guest Ranch

(866) 217-2042
86091 Double R Drive
Mullen, NE 69152

The drive to Double R Guest Ranch is along one of the most scenic and least populated stretches of highways in the state, Highway 97, connecting Mullen and Valentine. The property includes three big lakes and is a working cattle ranch. Owner, Pat Bridges is a knowledgable local guide. A number of buildings on the property include an old sod house, a restored one-room school house, a little store, stables, and a wooden cabin near a fishing lake. “At dusk the hills are alive with their deepest shades of green making early evening the best time to get the beautiful shadows on the hills, and to capture the clouds in all their glory. Activities include hunting, fishing, ice-fishing, hiking, bird-watching, star-gazing, horseback riding. Ask Pat to take you on an ATV ride in the hills!

Wachiska Audubon Society

Wachiska has several prairies under their management in southeast Nebraska, and they encourage visitors. They especially suggest Wildcat Prairie, 30.5 acres in Gage County, south-southwest of Virginia, Neb., as a particularly good spot for orange-red milkweed plants, which are especially good at attracting a range of butterflies.

Know of an ecotourist-friendly place in the Great Plains to see pollinators? Email us at cgps@unl.edu