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Floating the Eastern Niobrara River

Two canoers on a calm river with grey skies above.
Paddlers on the lower Niobrara River see more sandbars than higher up-river.

NPS Photo

Oh the elusive Eastern Niobrara.. This is the section of river after the Norden Chute all the way to the end of the Wild & Scenic River boundary at the Nebraska Highway 137 Bridge.


Floating this section can be done year round, but might be the easiet in the early spring. Later in the summer, the river level drops and finding the channel becomes difficult; floaters often have to get out a search for the channel. Of the 76 miles of protected river, the Eastern section is about 40 miles of flowing river and can take about 2 days to float.

There are no outfitters that service this section and landings are sparse. Access points can be obtained at Norden Bridge, Meadville Bridge, Nebraska Hwy 183 Bridge, Nebraska Hwy 7 Bridge, and, lastly, the Nebraska Hwy 137 Bridge.

We recommend checking with the county sheriff about leaving a vehicle overnight at bridge access points.

Guidance for Through-Floaters:

Camping on this section of the river becomes more difficult due to lack of established campgrounds.

Fred Thomas State Wildlife Management Area, located near the Nebraska Highway 7 Bridge, does allow primitive camping, but no fires. There is no landing here, but if it possible to pull out and camp primitively at this site.

Per federal law, camping below the high-water mark is allowed and paddlers could camp on sandbars along this section, but paddlers should obtain landowner permission before camping on the river because Nebraska State Law states that the landowner owns all of the land halfway into the channel.

Landings on the Lower Niobrara

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    Last updated: January 28, 2021