Photo of the Week – March 9, 2012

Toadstool Geologic Park is a small public area hidden away in the northwestern corner of Nebraska.  The site is one of the most scenic in Nebraska, but is remote enough that relatively few people visit.  Those who do make the trip can see tracks and fossils of animals that lived in the area 30 million years ago, including camels, rhinos, and others.

Toadstool Geologic Park is part of the Ogalala National Grasslands, administered by the U.S. Forest Service.  The grasslands would be called shortgrass prairie by most of us, but they are technically part of the “shale mixed-grass prairie – characterized by cool season grasses such as western wheatgrass, green needlegrass, and needle-and-thread.  They and other plants, including sego lilies, rabbitbrush, and leafy musineon, grow in dry clay soils that only receive an average about 10-15 inches of rain per year.

One of the reasons I love Nebraska is the variety of landscapes found in the state.  I can travel from the oak woodlands and tallgrass prairies of eastern Nebraska to a place like Toadstool Park in a single day of driving.

There’s an awful lot to explore in between too, and I feel like I’m just getting started.