Rules and Regulations

Niobrara National Scenic River is your national park, preserved for your enjoyment and the enjoyment of future generations of river fans.

There are a few regulations and rules of etiquette to help keep the river available and enjoyable for your next visit. Also see the Safety page for additional tips to help make your river experience a good one.

Personal Floatation Devices
PFDs or life jackets are required by Nebraska law for all boaters under age 13 and recommended for all other river users.

Connecting vessels together while underway
Fastening vessels together is limited to a maximum group size of ten (10) people. For example, ten individual person tubes, or three (3) giant tubes (greater than 6 feet in diameter), or a combination thereof. No more than five (5) canoes and/or kayaks may be fastened together. No more than three "cooler" tubes may be tied to any group of vessels. For more information, please see the Superintendent's Compendium.

Alcoholic beverages may be neither possessed nor consumed in the Fort Niobrara National Wildllife Refuge, including on the portion of the river within it. Alcohol may be possessed, but not consumed in the Mid Niobrara Natural Resource District boat landing. Private campgrounds may have their own regulations. Remember that alcohol affects your coordination, balance and judgement, skills that are necessary to safely float the river.

Glass and Styrofoam
Please do not bring glass containers or styrofoam cups or coolers to the river. If lost or discarded, they become hazards to boaters and wildlife.

It's against the law and it looks ugly. Your outfitter can provide a free litter bag. Tie it to your vessel so it doesn't get lost; use it for you own litter and to help clean up after those who haven't learned how to care for their river.

Cliff Climbing
Cliff climbing is trespassing; the river is bordered by private property. Cliffs are also extremely dangerous to climb, due to loose, unstable rock and rattlesnakes hiding in crevices.

Fishing and Hunting
Fishing is permitted in the Niobrara river, subject to Nebraska regulations. Fishing and hunting in wildlife refuges are subject to the regulations of each area.

Drones or Unmanned Aircraft
Launching, landing, or operating a drone or unmanned aircraft from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service is prohibited except as approved in writing by the superintendent. For more information, see the Superintendent's Compendium.

Other activities require an approved permit. Check the Superintendent's Compendium for further details, or visit the Permits page. Activities requiring permits include:

  • collecting plants or wildlife,
  • audio disturbances, such as motor or engine operation,
  • solicitation of gifts, money, goods, or services,
  • conducting a sporting event, pageant, regatta, etc.,
  • commercial photography/filming, and
  • scattering ashes from human cremation.
Please check with state and local agencies for other regulated activities.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

214 W US Highway 20
Valentine, NE 69201


(402) 376-1901

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