Scottsbluff was founded in 1900 across the North Platte River from its namesake, a bluff which is now a National Park called Scotts Bluff National Monument. The town of Gering had been founded south of the river and the two cities have since grown together to form the 8th largest urban area in Nebraska.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.4 km² (5.9 mi²). 15.2 km² (5.9 mi²) of it is land and 0.1 km² (0.04 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.67% water.

There are 6,088 households out of which 30.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.7% are married couples living together, 12.9% have a female householder with no husband present, and 36.9% are non-families. 32.4% of all households are made up of individuals and 14.7% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.36 and the average family size is 2.99.

In the city the population is spread out with 26.5% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 25.2% from 25 to 44, 20.7% from 45 to 64, and 17.8% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 87.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 82.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $29,938, and the median income for a family is $37,778. Males have a median income of $30,307 versus $20,854 for females. The per capita income for the city is $17,065. 18.3% of the population and 14.5% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 28.5% are under the age of 18 and 10.0% are 65 or older.