CU vs. Nebraska
When: 1:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Lincoln, Neb.
TV: KMGH, Channel 7
The scenic route
The Lincoln Highway Scenic and Historic Byway is a great way to avoid I-80 traffic.
The byway runs parallel to the interstate from the western border to Grand Island.
Despite lower speed limits, the detour will only add about an hour to the trip.
To check out the byway route and attractions along the way visit visitnebraska.gov/scenic-byways
Source: Nebraska’s Division of Travel and Tourism
For University of Colorado football fans making the trip to Lincoln, Neb., for Friday’s last Big 12 rivalry game, the 500-mile drive can be daunting, especially on a stomach full of turkey.
CU alumnus and Buff fan Chris Klekamp, 23, said he generally wants to get there and back as fast as he can — unless there’s a CU victory to rub in.
“I think most Buffs hate Nebraska and don’t want to be there if they don’t have to,” Klekamp said. “I mean the rival has bred us to hate them so we don’t stick around long. But if we win, I might hang around a little longer and take my time getting out.”
For fans who do decide to prolong the excursion, there are several roadside attractions along interstates 25, 76 and 80 that can turn a long drive into a road trip adventure.
A 20-minute detour in Denver will be worth it when you get your hands on the “world famous cinnamon rolls” at Johnson’s Corner truckstop, just off I-25 at exit 254. Then jump on I-76 with some warm, gooey, goodness and head east toward the Nebraska border.
Only an hour later you’ll be closing in on Fort Morgan, home of Jackson Lake State Park. Roland Alonzi, of the Colorado Tourism Office, said this is one of the state’s best places to look for wildlife and bird watch.
After another two hours in the car, make a pit stop at the Overland Trail Museum and Historic Village in Sterling, just west of the interstate. The museum pays homage to the gold-seeking pioneers and their route west, Alonzi said. Now you’re only an hour from the border.
As you enter foreign territory, expect only friendly and welcoming locals along the small towns of I-80.
“Even Buffs fans will find hospitality and a rural, friendly atmosphere,” said Shannon Peterson, public relations coordinator for Nebraska’s Division of Travel and Tourism.
For your first Nebraska attraction, check out the recreation of an 1880s main street on Front Street in Ogallala, Neb., and the nearby Cowboy Museum. A petrified wood gallery, gift shop and saloon give a variety of options for stretching your legs. There’s also a water tower painted like a spaceship with aliens peaking out of window holes.
It’s only 20 more miles to Paxton, Neb., where you’ll find Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse. The state’s most famous watering hole is filled with mounts and memorabilia from hunters around the world, including an elephant, a giraffe and a polar bear.
This local hangout is the Planet Hollywood of Nebraska, Peterson said.
“It’s like a preserved zoo,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun. I wouldn’t send your PETA friends there, though.”
Another 30 minutes in the car to digest dinner and you’re at the world’s largest railroad yard in North Platte, Neb. With more than 150 trains passing through every day and a slew of local volunteers, there’s plenty of folks around to talk about its history.
Send some mail with an original pony express seal in Gothenburg, Neb., home of the original Pony Express station, then grab a beer at the nearby Chicken Coop Sports Bar, which serves microbrews from its on-site brewery. The world’s largest plow is also in the Sod House Museum.
For car Buffs, the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles in Lexington, Neb., and the Chevyland USA Auto Museum in Elm Creek, Neb., are must-sees, Peterson said.
And history lovers will enjoy the Great Platte River Road Archway near Kearney, Neb., the Harold Warp Pioneer Village in Minden, Neb., and the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island, Neb., she said.
About 30 minutes south of Grand Island is the birthplace of Kool-Aid. The city museum in Hastings, Neb., includes several historical posters, mascots and memorabilia from the Kool-Aid campaigns.
Now you’re less then two hours from Lincoln, but you can’t miss the last stop. Milford, Neb., has an array of attractions — from the newest Dinosaur Museum, featuring more than 65 life-sized dinosaurs, to a campground of wooden teepees and the world’s largest covered wagon.
“This one is so much fun,” Peterson said. “It’s definitely one of the most vibrant places along the way.”
But if you don’t make every stop on the way to Lincoln, don’t worry. There’s always the drive home.