State Route 97 in Nebraska


Get started North Platte
End Valentine
Length 141 mi
Length 227 km



According to foodezine, State Route 97, also known as Highway 97 is a state route in the U.S. state of Nebraska. The road forms a north-south route through the center of the state, from near North Platte to Valentine, through the Sandhills. Highway 97 is 227 kilometers long.

Travel directions

Hwy 97 through the Sandhills.

Highway 97 begins and ends on US 83 and has an alternate route west of it. The road splits just north of the town of North Platte and ends in the town of Valentine. On the 227 kilometers between the two places there are only two small villages on the route, the road leads through a lonely area. The road passes through the Nebraska Sandhills, a highly sloping area of ​​grass and sand. There is hardly any vegetation in this part of Nebraska except around some river valleys. Despite the barren landscape, it is an interesting route to drive. The passage through three river valleys gives the greatest height differences.


According to bittranslators, the corridor was originally planned as US 183, which ran through the state more west in its early years than it does today. Around 1942 this was interchanged with the route of US 83. Until the 1940s only the part from North Platte to Tryon existed, much of it through the Sandhills was still missing in the late 1940s. Around 1950 US 83 was completed via Thedford. After this, the originally planned route via Tryon and Mullen was renumbered as Highway 97.

In the 1950s the road was constructed in fragments, the first sections being extended northwards from Tryon and southwards from Mullen. The northern part was then still completely missing. By 1960 the southern section was complete between North Platte and Mullen, although the route was partly a gravel road. The northern section between Mullen and Valentine was not built until the early 1980s as an entirely new route through the Sandhills.

Traffic intensities

Highway 97 is a very quiet road. Every day, 300 vehicles run between North Platte and Tryon, 250 to 350 vehicles between Tryon and Mullen and 100 to 300 vehicles between Mullen and Valentine.

Heartland Expressway

The route of the Heartland Expressway.

The Heartland Expressway is a series of highways in the western United States that forms a north-south route from the Denver region to Rapid City, South Dakota. The Heartland Expressway is also an interest group with the aim of developing the route to a high standard, especially the state of Nebraska has a lot of interest in this. The Heartland Expressway is 895 kilometers long.



In Colorado, the Heartland Expressway begins and is actually a continuation of the Ports to Plains Corridor. There are two starting points, the metropolis of Denver and the village of Limon. From Limon to the border with Nebraska, the Heartland Expressway follows State Highway 71. From Denver, the corridor follows Interstate 76 to Brush and joins SH 71 here.


Also in Nebraska, the Heartland Expressway is formed by State Highway 71, all the way to the town of Scottsbluff. From here, the route splits, a western branch to Interstate 25 in Wyoming and an eastern route continuing through Alliance and Chadron, largely following US 385 in Nebraska.


The western branch into Wyoming follows US 26 in Nebraska and US 26 in Wyoming from Scottsbluff, Nebraska, until it joins I-25 west of Guernsey, 130 kilometers north of the capital Cheyenne.

South Dakota

The 2×2 State Route 79 in South Dakota.

In South Dakota, the Heartland Expressway follows US 385 in South Dakota to near Hot Springs, then State Route 79 in South Dakota, which follows a bypass of the Black Hills. An alternate route goes through the Black Hills and follows US Highways 385 and 16 to Rapid City. In Rapid City, the Heartland Expressway terminates at Interstate 90.


The road is mostly single-lane, but two longer sections have been constructed as a 2×2 divided highway, State Route 71 in Nebraska from Kimball to Scottsbluff and State Route 79 in South Dakota from Hot Springs to Rapid City. The road mainly leads over the barren High Plains, which are very flat, especially in Colorado. Western Nebraska has some elevation changes. In South Dakota, the road leads along the base of the Black Hills, which peaks up to 2,200 meters.


In 1991, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act was passed, which established Corridor 14/Heartland Expressway. However, no specific funding has been allocated for the road in the law. It was also not determined how the corridor should be designed. The objective is mainly a 2×2 divided highway and not a full-fledged freeway because the finances are lacking and the intensities are too low to cross every unimportant side road at grade level. According to the MUTCD, an expressway is also a 2×2 divided highway and not a freeway per se.

In South Dakota, the route has been doubled to 2×2 divided highway. In about 2005, State Route 79 between Buffalo Gap and Rapid City was widened to 2×2 lanes, followed by a southward extension of the 2×2 portion to US 18 near Hot Springs circa 2007. Subsequently, the double numbering of US 18 and US 385 between Hot Springs was completed. Springs and Oelrichs widened to 2×2 lanes between 2010 and 2013. Finally, between 2013 and 2015 the section between the border with Nebraska and Oelrichs was widened to 2×2 lanes.

In Nebraska, State Route 71 between I-80 in Kimball and US 26 in Scottsbluff has been widened to 2×2 lanes. During the 1990s, SR-71 was widened here to 2×2 lanes. On October 4, 2011, Kimball’s 2×2 bypass opened to traffic. This meant that traffic no longer had to go straight through Kimball. The implementation of the Heartland Expressway is one of the high priorities of the Nebraska Department of Roads.

State Highway 71 has not yet been upgraded anywhere in Colorado. The traffic volumes on this part are mainly very low.

State Route 97 in Nebraska