Niobrara River

The headwaters of the Niobrara River are in eastern Wyoming, not far from the Nebraska border. The river flows into the Missouri River 535 miles downstream near the town of Niobrara, just upstream from Lewis & Clark Reservoir. Along the way, the river’s water irrigates crops, quenches thirsty livestock, feeds wet meadows, provides recreation for tens of thousands of people, and supports an incredible variety of fish and wildlife.

Nebraska Wildlife Federation is working to protect Niobrara River flows for future generations and to conserve these unique resources.

The Niobrara National Scenic River includes a 76-mile stretch of the river from Borman Bridge State Wildlife Area near Valentine to the Highway 137 bridge. Congress designated this stretch as a National Scenic River in 1991.

The National Scenic River stretch includes a unique biological crossroads for fish, wildlife and plants; a treasure trove of archaeological finds; world-class opportunities for river-based recreation; high bluffs and scenic vistas and more than 200 waterfalls. Learn more about the remarkable resources of the Niobrara National Scenic River.

The Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge was set aside in 1912 by President Theodore Roosevelt, to preserve the land as a breeding area for native birds, and to conserve bison and elk herds like those that once roamed the Great Plains.

Today, the Refuge supports bison, elk, deer, greater prairie chicken, and hundreds of others species of fish and wildlife. The US Fish & Wildlife Service manages the Refuge, which is open to the public and includes nine miles of the Niobrara River. Learn more about the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge here.

Smith Falls State Park is just one of the many places available for public use along the Niobrara River. The Park features Nebraska’s highest waterfall (right), along with camping, hiking, fishing, swimming and easy access to the river.

As it flows across Nebraska, the Niobrara runs through a National Monument, two state parks, two state recreation areas, a National Forest, state wildlife management areas, a National Scenic River, and a National Recreation River. In a state where less than 2% of the land is dedicated to public use, these state, federal and local areas allow all Nebraskans to enjoy the Niobrara River. Learn more on Smith Falls and other public areas in the Niobrara Valley.