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RMCC Niobrara Wild and Scenic River Memorial Day

May 29 - May 31

This will be an ACA-sanctioned outing/event which requires EITHER ACA membership OR a $10/person insurance fee.  This is an easy, kids-friendly class 1 river, with our campground in the middle of the run.  Each day will be about 12 miles and about 4 hours. Contact Bill Ashworth (washwort@gmail.com) to register for the trip.

This beautiful stretch is one of America’s premier scenic heritage waterways; we’ll see many waterfalls, beautiful hardwood forests, and birds!  And the resident buffalo herd at the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge (https://www.fws.gov/refuge/fort_niobrara/ ) often has calves this time of year.  We run the river on Saturday and Sunday. Most will car camp at Smith Falls State Park, Friday – Sunday nights; return to the Front Range after breakfast on Monday (about a 6-7 hour drive back to Denver) or continue to see the sights of Nebraska or head up to South Dakota.

Niobrara River Trail description here . 

Description from Backpacker magazine:  http://www.backpacker.com/stories/paddle-nebraska-s-niobrara-river

River gage at https://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/uv?site_no=06461500.  We generally run it at between 1000 and 2000 cfs.

Saturday, we’ll meet at 11am (CDT) ready to shuttle from the Cornell Bridge put-in near Valentine, down to the State Park campground and beach the canoes and then start from then again on Sunday.   If you are not camping, but meeting us in the morning, see the note, below for directions.

Saturday evening – optional potluck appetizers and dinner at one of the convenient campsites.  There is a large group shelter generally available in case of rain.

Sunday, we’ll meet near the boat ramp (where we took out on Saturday) at 10am (CDT) ready to shuttle from the campground to the take-out – probably at Sunny Brook Camp, about a mile upstream of Rocky Ford.  The shuttle takes over an hour, so non-drivers should plan to relax, hike to Smith Falls, and/or birdwatch at the campground while the drivers are driving. We will verify the 10am shuttle start on Saturday night.

Sunday evening: Informal group happy hour possible, but no specific group activity planned.  Some of us will be checking out (i.e., scouting, not running) the Norden chute and going to the TNC Niobrara Valley Preserve near there) (https://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/nebraska/placesweprotect/niobrara-valley-preserve.xml 


The campground doesn’t open until a couple of weeks before Memorial Day and there is no official group site.  Tents will go down by the river and RVs and trailers will be put on the slope across the road from the tents.  Several sites are VERY large and could easily accommodate 4 or 5 tents if folks would like a group setting or just couldn’t get a reservation.  Smith Falls State Park (402) 376-1306), 2019 Costs in prior years: Day use fee $5/car, camping fee $8/person/night, showers included.  Phone reservations will likely be taken starting early May.   


Note: Directions to Cornell Bridge from Valentine:  Take Nebraska 12 east about 4 miles to the Ft Niobrara Wildlife refuge turn-off. Turn right towards the river and then make the first right into the access parking lot. Be there by 11 am ready to shuttle and be sure to purchase your $1 wrist-band at the kiosk


May 29
May 31
Event Category:


Valentine, NE
Valentine, NE United States


Bill Ashworth
washwort at gmail.com