Map of Niobrara National Scenic River in Nebraska
Niobrara National Scenic River. Basic information for visitors to the Niobrara National Scenic River In north-central Nebraska, near Valentine.
Niobrara National Scenic River in north-central Nebraska, near Valentine.
Eastern deciduous, western pine, and northern boreal forest ecosystems merge with short and mixed-grass prairie in the beautiful Niobrara River valley. Free-grazing cattle, windmills, abandoned historic barns, and dilapidated ranch homes offset the natural landscape. The upper portion of the 76-mi stretch of waterway is excellent for canoeing. The scenic river was authorized on May 24, 1991.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Canoeing and tubing (rentals in Valentine and along river). Facilities: Visitor center, hiking trails. Programs & Events: Niobrara Council River Cleanup and BBQ (May), Canoe Outfitters River Appreciation Day & Clean-up (Sept.). Tips & Hints: Go weekdays to avoid crowds; May-Oct. to run river; May, June, Oct. and Nov. for migrating waterfowl; June for wildflowers; and late Sept.-mid-Oct. for fall colors. Most common canoeing section of river begins east of Valentine and runs downstream 30 mi. Much of river frontage is privately owned; respect landowners' property rights. Busiest on July and Aug. weekends, least crowded Nov.-Mar.
FOOD, LODGING & SUPPLIES
Camping: None at site. Near Valentine: Smith Falls State Park (Rte. 12, 15 mi east of Valentine, tel. 402/376-1306; 16 sites; $3; flush and pit toilets, showers, hook-ups). Hotels: None in park. In Valentine: Comfort Inn (101 Main St., tel. 402/376-3300 or 800/478-3307; 50 rooms, 6 suites; $75), Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites (803 U.S. 20 E, tel. 402/376-3000 or 877/376-3003; 41 rooms, 19 suites; $90). X Restaurants: None in park. In Valentine: Hot Stuff (203 E. Rte. 20, tel. 402/376-2283; $3-$14), Peppermill (112 N. Main St., tel. 402/376-1440; $5-$ 10; no dinner Sun.). Groceries & Gear: None in park. In Valentine: Hendersons IGA (710 E. U.S. 20, tel. 402/376-1144), Yucca Dune (148 E. 1st St., tel. 402/376-3330).
FEES & HOURS
Free. River access fee $2 per boat at wildlife refuge. Smith Falls State Park entrance fee ($2.50). River open daily, but may freeze in winter. Wildlife refuge visitor center open Memorial Day-Labor Day, daily 8-4:30; Labor Day-Memorial Day, weekdays 8-4:30.
HOW TO GET THERE
Valentine is off U.S. 83, 76 mi south of 1-90 and 130 mi north of 1-80. River access points are in Fort Niobrara Refuge, Smith Falls State Park, and the Middle Niobrara Natural Resource District. Nearest airport: Rapid City, SD (215 mi).
Niobrara National Scenic River (Box 591, O'Neill, NE 68763, tel. 402/ 336-3970, fax 402/336-3981,). Valentine Ranger Station (146 S. Hall St., Valentine, NE 69201, tel. 402/376-1901). Valentine Chamber of Commerce (239 S. Main St., Valentine, NE 69201, tel. 402/376-2969). Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge (5 mi east of Valentine on Rte. 12).
Niobrara National Scenic River. Basic information for visitors to the Niobrara National Scenic River In north-central Nebraska, near Valentine