The Niobrara National Scenic River winds through central Nebraska like a bright blue ribbon on a birthday gift.
After the rains nourish the grassy Great Plains, the water percolates through 12,000 square miles of sandhills and converges into one of the prettiest rivers on the planet.
Floating along the Niobrara in your canoe, kayak, or tube, you can feel the stress slipping away. You begin to notice things, like the wiggly shimmer of sunlight on the water and the hint of fresh pine in the air.
What moved in the woods over there? Was that a deer? It might have been an elk or even a bison. And the bird up in that tree—that’s a kingfisher with a small fish clasped in its beak.
It cliffs above the river, paleontologists have found fossils of ancient horses, rhinos, and mastodons. Apparently, this place has attracted visitors for tens of thousands of years.
The rustling noise ahead could be one of the 90 waterfalls on the Niobrara. At 70 feet, Smith Falls is the highest in the state. Perhaps you can hike up there after you set up camp downstream.