The Niobrara Trip: Part 2

July 24, 2021

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So, we packed up the camping stuff and drove to the ‘let in’ spot. Sam and the kids spent the night at a hotel and nearly missed the bus since it was all so remote. Our crew made the bus take off late, but it all worked out.

At the ‘let in’ spot, everyone unloaded their coolers, snacks, sunscreen, towels, etc. We had eight people, so we rented two kayaks, one canoe and one stock tank (holds four). The stock tank was interesting. It was plastic, not metal, and there was room for four camp chairs (provided) and a few of our coolers. One cooler fit in the canoe, and the kayakers were on their own. We have no photos from the actual river, as it turns out.

The river, as I mentioned, is quite shallow and not very fast moving. The people on their lashed-together floaties have it made. Put your cooler on a floaty, then it’s just lounging and floating for hours. The kayaks and conoes hardly every hit bottom, but the tank? We bottomed out quite a bit. It was never an issue, but the first few times it happened it was rather jarring. It’s also really hard to steer a tank. They give you an oar and a pushing stick, but it mostly makes you go round and round.

There were places to pull over and mess around in the river, and I liked that quite a lot. I’m not good at swimming or boating, but I excel at squatting in rivers and looking at rocks.

There were several spots where you could just pull over and play in the water, but the big attraction is Smith Falls, Nebraska’s largest waterfall. We walked up the little creek and laughed when we saw what we thought was it, because it was only about 10 feet tall. Everybody goofed around in the water.

Then we walked up the path to the actual waterfall, and it was spectacular I think it’s 70 feet tall? Everybody was doing photo ops there it was crowded with people and their smart phones. Still super fun.


There were picnic tables at this site, so we ate much of the food that we brought and chatted with some other rafters. One family was very friendly. Her husband forgot to bring pickles, so we shared the pickles that I brought…. that Lloyd said we wouldn’t need. Vindication!

People who do this make it a yearly vacation destination, and I can see why. It’s a lazy, relaxed time with very little watercraft skill needed. You will burn like bacon if you don’t sunscreen up, though. If we did it again, I think using floaters would be more relaxed than a tank of boats, and it would be smart to stay the night afterward. We left the river at 4:30 and didn’t get home until almost 10. The next day was loooooooonnnnngggg.

About Lauren

Lauren Sommerer is a preschool teacher who likes to build prototypes, grow cats, cook things once, save money, reduce, reuse and recycle.

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2 Responses to “The Niobrara Trip: Part 2”

  1. Brad Said on:

    Wait… you drove for five and half hours, and you were still in the same state?

    The rafting sounds really fun. And the water was shallow, so that was good 😉

    Reply

  2. Kristi Said on:

    We always stop at Smith Falls for lunch. Great photo opp!

    Reply

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