About Dawes County
The green grass of the prairie stretches for miles under the wide open sky in Dawes County, dotted occasionally by farmhouses. Rolling hills vary the landscape with occasional creeks and rural roads. Two main rivers flow through the county, the White River in the northern portion, and the Niobrara River along the southern boundary. The watershed of the the White River lies somewhat above 3,000 feet in elevation, while that of the Nibrara is around 4,000 feet. A ridge of forested hills, called Pine Ridge, separate the two, crossing the middle of the county from east to west.
Chadron a quaint railroad town, is the county seat and largest city in the county. With a population of 9,060 people (as of 2000), Dawes County is sparsely populated with about 6 people per square mile. 1,401 square miles are included within the county. U.S. Highway 20 crosses the county east to west, and U.S. Highway 385 traverses it from north to south, with their intersection point at Chadron. Nebraska Highways 2 and 71, a combined route, also pass along the western boundary of the county.
The forests through the center of the county provide recreational opportunities, and are home to the Chadron State Park, and the Pine Ridge National Recreational Area, as well as the Nebraska National Forest.