Located near the Niobrara River, just 25 minutes from Valentine, Smith Falls State Park is a popular outdoor recreation area in north-central Nebraska.
Its main attraction is Smith Falls, a breathtaking waterfall that cascades 70 feet down into the Niobrara River.
Visitors can hike along the river and take in stunning views of the falls from various vantage points.
In addition to the falls, Smith Falls State Park offers many other recreational opportunities including boating, kayaking, canoeing and tubing down the Niobrara River. Park guests can also hike or bike their way through several miles of trails that showcase its scenic beauty and abundant wildlife.
Overall, Smith Falls State Park is an excellent destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy some time away from the pressures of city life.
Many people choose to come here from Wyoming, South Dakota and, in particular, the rest of Nebraska for a long weekend getaway, with the park providing basic camping facilities at its campground to accommodate them.
This Nebraska state park enables visitors to enjoy its beautiful scenery in several different ways.
Outlined beneath is a quick overview of some of the main things you can see and do during your time at Smith Falls State Park.
Waterfall at Smith Falls State Park
The waterfall at Smith Falls State Park is the undoubted highlight of the park. It is also the highest waterfall in Nebraska.
The spectacular cascade is formed by the Niobrara River dropping 63 feet over a rocky ledge. Its crystal clear water falls into a shallow pool that is perfect for swimming on a hot summer day.
Visitors can access the waterfall by hiking along the Niobrara River Trail, which offers stunning views of the river and the surrounding landscape. This trail is a short and easy hike, making it accessible to people of all ages and fitness levels.
The waterfall area is also a popular spot for picnicking, relaxing and taking in the breathtaking scenery.
Boating at Smith Falls State Park
Smith Falls State Park offers patrons the opportunity to experience the beautiful and pristine waterways of Nebraska’s northern Sandhills.
The park is located on the Niobrara River, which is a popular destination for boating, especially canoeing and kayaking. The calm and gentle flow of the river is perfect for paddling, and visitors can take in the stunning scenery and wildlife as they navigate through the river.
There is also a boat launch area at Smith Falls State Park, which makes it easy for visitors to launch their boats and start their adventure on the river.
Unfortunately, motorized boats are not allowed on the river within the boundaries of the park, as the focus is on preserving the natural environment and allowing visitors to enjoy the tranquility of the area.
Fishing at Smith Falls State Park
Fishing at Smith Falls State Park is a popular year-round activity among anglers.
The park’s location on the Niobrara River provides an excellent fishing environment for various fish species. This includes channel catfish, smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, and northern pike.
Anglers can fish from the riverbanks or rent a canoe or kayak to drop a line while paddling down the river. Should you need it, you can rent fishing gear and bait from the park’s concessionaire.
Hiking at Smith Falls State Park
The park offers several trails for hiking that provide visitors with stunning views of the Niobrara River Valley and the surrounding landscapes.
One of the most popular hiking trails is the Smith Falls Trail, which is a one-mile round-trip hike that leads to the impressive Smith Falls. The trail features a boardwalk and is easy to navigate. Along the way, hikers can enjoy views of the river and the unique rock formations that line the trail.
If you fancy a longer hike, you should attempt the Cedar Point Trail, a six-mile round-trip hike that provides breathtaking views of the river valley and the surrounding hills. This trail is more challenging and is recommended for experienced hikers.
Biking at Smith Falls State Park
Biking is also a well practiced activity in the park.
The park’s main bike trail is the Niobrara River Trail, which follows the winding path of the river for over 14 miles.
The trail is rated as moderate to difficult, with some steep climbs and descents, rocky sections, and tight turns.
Along the way, bikers can enjoy stunning views of the river, canyons, and rock formations, as well as wildlife like deer, turkeys, and eagles.
Bikers are required to wear helmets and share the trail with hikers and horseback riders. Visitors can bring their own bikes or rent them from nearby outfitters.
You are more than welcome to bring your furry friends with you to Smith Falls State Park, although you should be aware of the rules and regulations pertaining to its pet policy.
All pets should be well behaved at the park and restrained on a leash. Owners must also clean up after they have made a mess and ensure they do not enter areas where they are not permitted.
For a detailed brief of the park’s pet policy it is worth contacting the main office.
Smith Falls State Park offers a peaceful and scenic campground for visitors who want to experience the natural beauty of the park.
Overall there are 26 basic and primitive campsites available for tents and RVs at the east campground. These are unpowered, but as they are surrounded by trees, they offer a sense of privacy and tranquility.
Potable water, toilets and showers are available here, however, sites do not have individual picnic tables.
In addition to this campground there are also 10 basic hike-in sites available at the west campground as well.
Smith Falls State Park
90159 Smith Falls Rd,
Valentine, NE 69201
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Smith Falls State Park:
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