I’ve been through Nebraska but never to the northern part of the state, where Smith Falls State Park is located. Usually, when I think of Nebraska, I think of flat farmland and cornfields but the area around Smith Falls State Park is rolling hills and forestland.

Scenic Smith Falls State Park is the home to Nebraska’s highest waterfall, also called Smith Falls. The only way to get to the falls is by hiking across the footbridge over the Niobrara River on a planked trail. I’ve been to a few parks that use boardwalks (planked trails to protect against erosion and to protect rare plants). Isle Royale National Park in northern Michigan comes to mind.

This park is a popular destination for campers, as well as canoers, kayakers, tubers and others who visit the area to experience the beautiful Niobrara River, a National Scenic River. Many outfitters use the park as a take-out spot, which make it a convenient camping site for those planning to paddle or float the river.

Smith Falls is named for Frederic Smith, who first homesteaded on the land that encompasses the falls. The site became a state park in 1992. Not only is the land home to the beautiful falls, it is also an area of biological significance where several ice age species can still be found.

—- Location —-
Smith Falls State Park is located 18 miles east of Valentine, Nebraska, adjacent to the Niobrara National Scenic River.

—- Park Camping —-

Primitive Tent camping is available along the north side of the river. The campground has picnic tables, restrooms, pay showers and a reservable group shelter.

—- Free Camping —-

Based on https://freecampsites.net/Valentine there are 5 free campsites within 15 miles of Valentine Nebraska. They all appear to be disperse camping.

—- Area Camping —-


—- Hiking & Biking —-

The Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail which stretches some 195 miles.


—- Things To Do —-

There are plenty of fun things to do here such as canoeing, kayaking, and tubing. Other people visit the area to experience the beautiful Niobrara River, a National Scenic River. Many outfitters use the park as a take-out spot, which make it a convenient camping site for those planning to paddle or float the river.

A 76-mile stretch of the river east of Valentine is a nationally designated scenic river. For those who don’t have their own watercraft, several outfitters in the city of Valentine rent equipment and provide shuttle service. Customized float trips from 2-6 hours can be arranged.

The spring-fed river runs knee to hip-high at most in summer, so there’s little to fear if you overturn. But if you need a rush, try the river’s signature ritual: a walk into the icy 63-foot shower of Smith Falls, one of more than 180 waterfalls around Valentine.

Near By Parks:

– Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge: The Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge is a 19,131-acre refuge west of the park is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Bison, elk, deer and prairie dogs can be seen along the 3.5-mile wildlife drive through the refuge. The more adventurous visitor can enjoy the Fort Niobrara Wilderness Area on foot and hike to Fort Falls.

– Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area: Located 26 miles southwest of Valentine, this park is situated in a narrow, picturesque valley of the Snake River. The reservoir covers 2,906 surface acres and has 44 miles of shoreline. Camping, boating, fishing, water skiing, and other water-related activities are permitted.

Other things to do in the area:


—- References —-