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Top Ten Tips For the Niobrara National Scenic River

Three people setting in the shallows with an inflatable turtle.
Hanging out on the Niobrara National Scenic River

NPS Photo/ B. Allen

Just in time for Great Outdoors Month in June, rangers share their insider tips for visiting national parks. We’re expecting an especially busy summer season and want everyone to have a great experience. A little advance trip planning can ensure that your only surprises are happy ones. Check out our top 10 lists to get the most out of your summer vacation. #PlanLikeAParkRanger

  1. There are many options for floating the Niobrara National Scenic River. You can bring your own equipment or work with an outfitter to experience the jewel of the prairie. Series: What to Know Before You Go (nps.gov)
  2. The Niobrara National Scenic River Visitor Center is located in Valentine, NE. Starting Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend we are open seven days a week 8:30 to 4:30 central time. The rest of the year we are open Monday thru Friday, 8:30 to 4:30 central time. Operating Hours & Seasons - Niobrara National Scenic River (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
  3. People who are not yet fully vaccinated are still required to wear masks inside park buildings and in crowded outdoor areas.
  4. If you would like a quiet trip on the Niobrara National Scenic River, consider coming during the week. Weekends are popular from Berry Bridge to Rock Barn. Plan Your Visit - Niobrara National Scenic River (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
  5. Think about the family or group of friends visiting the park after you. They also deserve to have a great time, so be sure to take with you everything you brought in.
  6. Smith Falls State Park is the only public campground along the western reach of the Niobrara National Scenic River. All other campgrounds are privately owned. For more information check out Floating with an Outfitter (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
  7. Dogs are welcomed along the Niobrara National Scenic River! Check with your outfitter for their policies regarding pets and remember your pawed friend’s leash at Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge and at Smith Falls State Park. Pets - Niobrara National Scenic River (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
  8. There are over 200 waterfalls along the scenic section of the Niobrara River. The tallest waterfall is located at Smith Falls State Park. Take the MacAllister Nature Tail to find a few smaller waterfalls. Waterfalls and Springs - Niobrara National Scenic River (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
  9. The majority of land along the Niobrara National Scenic River is privately owned but at the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, Smith Falls State Park, and the Niobrara Valley Preserve there are hiking opportunities! Nearby Attractions - Niobrara National Scenic River (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
  10. Finally, pack your patience. National parks are already bustling, and like most leisure-time places you’ll go this year, we may be short-staffed. But if you can give us a little more time, we’re here to help.
Bonus Tip: Be a Junior Ranger! Want to learn even more about your parks and earn cool badges along the way? Ask for our Junior Ranger Booklet at the visitor center or the Pop-up Visitor Station. Junior Ranger activities are fun, informative, and free!

Last updated: June 1, 2021