It’s pretty natural not to expect any waterfalls in a flat state like Nebraska. But, you would be surprised to know that some impressive ones flow here, mainly along the Niobrara River. Whether you visit the prominent ones or spot a few hidden gems, they all boast scenic beauty around. As they are connected to the same river source and within close proximity to one another, you could get the pleasure of exploring more than one waterfall in a single visit. So if planning your next weekend getaway here, get set to have a whale of a time sightseeing, or even kayaking, tubing, wading, and fishing in the waterfall or the nearby river.
This waterfall, located within Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, is 45 feet high. Flowing along the Niobrara National Scenic River, it boasts picturesque views of the surrounding valley and cliffs. As you pause to admire its beauty from the viewing platform, feel the water drops splashing on you. Buffalo, prairie dogs, and elk are some of the wildlife species you might encounter here. Its high volume of water makes it worth visiting throughout the year. There’s no admission fee to enter the refuge area.
Nearest City: About 6 miles from Valentine
Hiking & Other Activities: Hikers of all skill levels can access the 1-mile wooded trail. Though the waterfall is 0.25 miles away from the trailhead, hiking the entire route will reward you with additional scenic vistas. Dogs, too, can access the path. Picnicking and wildlife watching are some other activities you can enjoy here.
The state’s highest, Smith Falls cascading from 63-feet, is the main attraction of the Smith Falls State Park. It’s incredibly photogenic, and many enjoy wading at the waterfall’s base. Moreover, as it flows into the Niobrara River, various activities like kayaking, canoeing, and tubing are popular during summer. You’ll have to spend $ 5 per vehicle as a parking fee here.
Nearest City: About 18.5 miles from Valentine
Hiking & Other Activities: A short and easy hike along the river will bring you to a wooden pathway, finally leading you to the waterfall. If you wish to explore further, do not miss hiking the nearby Jim McAllister Nature Trail. Picnicking and camping are other sought-after activities.
Located east of Valentine, Berry Falls is a pretty little waterfall. Pouring from about 10 feet, it flows down into the Niobrara River. You can often spot deer wandering in the area. Many tubers have fun floating by the falls. As it is near the Berry Creek Campground, you can also enjoy staying overnight here.
Nearest City: About 16 miles from Valentine
Hiking & Other Activities: It’s a short walk to the waterfall from the parking lot. Don’t forget to carry your picnic baskets to enjoy a meal while soaking in the views.
Fed by the Snake River within Sandhills, this waterfall tumbles over a 54-foot ledge. The sight is indeed spectacular, with ponderosa pines elevating its beauty. When the water level is high, it gushes into the deep canyon to meet the Niobrara River, making it the state’s largest waterfall in terms of volume. As it is in a private property behind Snake Falls Sportsmen Club, a $ 1 admission fee is required to access it.
Nearest City: About 23.5 miles from Valentine
Hiking & Other Activities: Two roped-off viewpoints are available to witness the falls, both accessible by a short hike. The waterfall is open to the public daily from 9 am to 5 pm. However, except for viewing it, no other activities are permissible here.
Tyler Falls, in Cherry County, sits at an elevation gain of about 2418 feet. Located inside the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, it flows downstream of Fort Falls. It is also a favorite fishing destination, so don’t miss out on bringing your fishing equipment. However, do check with the local Fishing Department to make sure whether the stream is accessible to the public or not.
Nearest City: About 8 miles from Valentine
Hiking & Other Activities: Hiking a short trail from Fort Falls will lead you here. Anglers would for sure have an enjoyable time spinning, baitcasting or fly-fishing here.
The well-known Platte River State Park is home to a lovely little waterfall. You can view it from above or enjoy splashing water with your kids in the pool below. You would see it in its full vigor after a heavy rain, yet its beauty is no less during the other times of the year, with droplets of water trickling down gently. However, look out for the slippery rocks underwater, especially when with children. You will have to pay a small admission fee of about $ 3 per person to enter the state park.
Nearest City: About 31 miles from Omaha
Hiking & Other Activities: A short kid-friendly path from the lower parking lot will take you to the waterfall. You’ll find many hiking trails nearby. You can also keep yourself busy with fishing, kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, camping, and many more such activities inside the state park.
Stair Step Falls is in Niobrara Valley Reserve within Nature’s Conservancy. Tumbling in steps down the rock bed, it boasts picturesque views. However, as it is in private property, it is best visible while kayaking or floating along the Niobrara River. You will find a sign indicating the falls just after crossing Sharp’s Landing.
Nearest City: About 26.5 miles from Ainsworth
Hiking & Other Activities: There is no known hiking trail to reach the falls. You can explore the surrounding areas to enjoy the scenery and wildlife.
Little Cedar Falls is a lesser-known waterfall located in a secluded area in Sparks. Sourced by Brewer Bridge Creek, it drops from a mere height of about 10 feet. Though not in the list of the noted ones, you would get wooed by its peacefulness and scenic beauty if you bump into this place by chance.
Nearest City: Sparks, Cherry County
Hiking & Other Activities: The waterfall sits adjacent to an off-beaten path. There are some campsites and picnic tables in the nearby area.
Horseshoe Falls is another waterfall in Cherry County that is unknown to many. Though a small one, those who come here have a great time fishing by the falls. Also, make sure to pack your meal that you can enjoy here.
Nearest City: Cherry County
Hiking & Other Activities: Hiking the trail to the waterfall requires quite an effort due to the rocky and uneven terrain. Remember to wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring sufficient water as well.
Best Waterfalls for Hiking: Platte River State Park, Fort Falls, Smith Falls
Best Waterfalls for Swimming/Wading: Smith Falls, Fort Falls, Platte River State Falls
Best Waterfalls for Camping: Berry Falls, Platte River State Park, Smith Falls
Best Hidden Waterfalls: Little Cedar Falls, Stair Step Falls, Horseshoe Falls
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