Swim and Fish in Waterfalls
Among Nebraska’s most spectacular waterfalls, Snake River Falls rushes over a 54-foot-wide ledge. When the Snake is full, it rushes over the edge at a rate of 230 cubic feet per second and sprays mist across the canyon. Water tumbles and turns like a mountain stream as it flows another 12 miles to the Niobrara River. It is 23 miles southwest of Valentine on Highway 97. Snake River Falls is open year-round, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $1 for adults, 75¢ for children under 18.
Smith Falls and Snake River Falls are the best known waterfalls in the region. At Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge near Valentine, a hiking trail leads to Fort Falls, hidden in a secluded canyon. Also on the refuge is a two-tiered waterfall known as Stinard Falls. Downstream from Smith Falls, just below Fritz’s Island, Stairstep Falls is just what its name indicates.
As it turns out, Nebraska has many more waterfalls than anyone realized. In 2004, a National Parks Service-sponsored study cataloged the waterfalls of the Niobrara. The study found more than 180 falls along a 20-mile stretch of the valley. That was about twice as many as expected.
The Niobrara falls are unique because of their convex faces, meaning that they bulge outward, which is the opposite of what waterfalls in most other places usually do. This is because most of the falls are spring-fed and active year-round, preventing freeze-thaw action from eroding their faces. Also, the faces are protected by minerals from seeping groundwater and by the growth of algae, diatoms and lichens. While enjoying our rivers and falls, please respect private property rights and remember that trampling of delicate vegetation can cause erosion. Help us preserve natural treasures for future generations.
For more information about Valentine-area attractions, contact the Valentine Visitor Center. (800) 658-4024 or visit online at http://visitvalentine.org/