Since the mid-1990s, Mitch and Patty Glidden of Mullen have been offering firsthand experiences for tourists of the natural wonders of their portion of the Nebraska Sand Hills, including water adventures on the spring-fed Dismal and Middle Loup Rivers.

The couple, owners of the Sandhills Motel since 1993, began renting canoes in 1994 and kayaks in 1995. They added “stock-tank” trips in 2004, offering various sizes of metal tanks in which groups can float on the normally placid Middle Loup. The largest, a 9-foot tank, can seat up to eight adults.

In other seasons, the Gliddens offer birdwatching viewings using an old school bus as a blind.

Highlights

Eighteen air-conditioned rooms; guest laundry facilities; RV hookups; swimming pool and recreation/picnic area across street; trailer available for rent during deer-hunting season and other peak tourist periods.

Special features

Stock-tank, kayak or canoe trips down the Middle Loup River (beginning to intermediate difficulty); one- or two-day “wilderness river adventures” down the Dismal River for experienced canoeists; early-spring “Nebraska Sandhills Grassland Dance” viewings of mating rituals of sharptail grouse and prairie chickens.

Did you know?

Mullen, the county seat of Hooker County, lies along the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway (Nebraska Highway 2) connecting Grand Island to Nebraska’s Pine Ridge region and the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad also runs through the town, which has about 500 people.

The Bessey Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forest, located 40 miles east of Mullen near Halsey, is the nation’s largest human-planted forest at 20,000 acres.

Several nearby golf courses are laid out to take advantage of the rolling Sand Hills terrain, including Dismal River Golf Club, designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus.

On the calendar

Nebraska Sandhills Grassland Dance, by appointment, March and April.

Polar Bear Tank Race, stock-tank float on Middle Loup River as a Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway fundraiser, first Saturday in March.

Need to know

Phone: 308-546-2206 or 1-888-278-6167

Address: 507 S.W. First St., Mullen, NE 69152

Admission: Basic room rates, $57 to $67 per night (plus tax). Extra charges apply for larger parties and weekend or holiday lodging during tourist season (May 1-Sept. 30). See website for rates for RV pads, camping and activities.

Hours: 24 hours a day.

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