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Scenic Smith Falls State Park is home to Nebraska’s highest waterfall, also called Smith Falls. The state 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 filed the first homestead patent 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.
Perhaps the biggest draw of Smith Falls State Park is, of course, the famous falls. At 70 feet, these falls are the highest waterfall in Nebraska.
How to visit the falls: The only access to the falls is via the footbridge across the river from the north side of the park. Hiking to the falls is limited to established trails to prevent erosion and protect rare plants.
A 76-mile stretch of the river east of Valentine is a nationally designated scenic river. This stretch of the river boasts some of the best canoeing, tubing and kayaking you will find. For those who don’t have their own watercraft, several outfitters in Valentine rent equipment and provide shuttle service. Customized float trips from 2-6 hours can be arranged.
Smith Falls State Park offers a visitor center, as well as picnic sites, tent camping, restrooms, concession stand and pay showers. A picnic pavilion for group gatherings may be reserved.
Smith Falls State Park offers reservations for tent campsites. Guests can make reservations by calling the park office at 402-376-1306.
- Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail: The Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail passes through spectacular Nebraska scenery as it travels 195 miles from Valentine east to Norfolk. This trail is great for biking, hiking and horseback riding. One of the most spectacular parts of the trail is the old train trestle that crosses the Niobrara River just outside of Valentine.
- 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.
Address: Smith Falls State Park | 90165 Smith Falls Rd. | Valentine, Neb. 69201-9103
Phone: (402) 376-1306
Email: Send email