Best time to travel to Midwest

Sandhill Crane Migration

Half a million feathered travellers take a break during their spring migration to feed and rest at the Platte River

Sandhill Crane Migration in Midwest - Best Time
Photo by

© Arlene Koziol

Sandhill cranes migration across North America is considered one of world's largest animals' movement that goes in range with well-known wildebeest, and caribou migrations. It involves from 400,000 to 600,000 individuals, which is 80% of world's cranes population overall.

Hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes enjoy the coolness of their nesting grounds in Rocky Mountains of North America and Canada, as well as Alaska, and even Syberia. But when summer is over, they set off on a far journey to the warmer southern lands of Texas, Arizona, Chihuahua, New Mexico, and Mexico.

Sandhill Migration on the Platte River
Sandhill Migration on the Platte River

It's difficult to trace them during their autumn migration, as they don't take any serious breaks. However, on their way home in spring they are not so hasty.

The cranes stop by for 4 to 5 weeks in the wetlands of San Luis Valley in Colorado, and along the Platte River in Nebraska, the latter is known as the most famous sandhill cranes spotting place. The birds feed on cornfields and roost on shallow waters, so the best time to observe the spectacle is either sunset or dawn.

Dawn on the Platte River
Dawn on the Platte River

Sandhill cranes arrive in 3 waves, starting from mid-February and the last group leaving in mid-April to continue their long journey to the north. The record numbers of sandhills is usually observed in late March.

Midwest
Check best times to visit
Midwest