Valentine is the gateway to the Niobrara National Scenic River. It is popular for canoeing and rafting, the longest run taking over 7 hours in a canoe and 14 hours just floating. The river and its feeder streams have 230 waterfalls. One, on the Snake River tributary, is Nebraska’s widest falls; Smith Falls is its highest.
The area is interesting in several respects. This is the farthest east that ponderosa pines grow naturally. The wider general area is named the Sand Hills.The sand is quite compacted and of small grains. It grows grasses, forbs and a few kinds of trees, but is not suited to agriculture besides cattle grazing and haying.
After passing through the Niobrara Wildlife Reserve, we came across this white cliff eroded by the river.
This small falls is just downstream from the Berry Bridge
Two or three outfitters have watercrafts here for rent. An oversized tube costs about $35.00 per person per day.
Tubers and canoeists parked here for refreshments on shore. Here I saw two people floating down the river wearing just life jackets.
This is a typical flotilla of tubes. The small yellow ones are for coolers. Most of the river is quite shallow. The man at the far left is standing on the bottom to hold the group of tubes. Looks like a lot of fun.
At Smith Falls State Park we walked across this bridge in its third location to take the short walk up a side canyon to Smith Falls, Nebraska’s tallest at 70 feet.
The wood walkway was easy to walk. This is our first view of the falls.
Here is most of the falls, with me in the foreground.
And here is the bottom of the falls.
This shows several miles of the Niobrara valley
SNAKE RIVER FALLS .
On Sept 7 we took the 25 mile ride to the Snake River falls. It is located on private property, with admission fee of just $1.00 per person. There is no sign at the intersection of NE Hwy 97 and the gravel road going north to the parking area. It is located at about mile 190.2. A landmark at the intersection is a round metal cattle watering tank.
Once we paid, a sign directed us to a trail.
This is the best part of the trail – not maintained and challenging to senior citizens. It gets much worse beyond. We stopped near this point and relied on telephoto features of the camera to get shots of the nice falls.
Jo, with parts of the rough trail beyond..
This time of year the flow over the falls is much less than in the spring with water from snow melt.