The Niobrara River. Stretching from it’s headwaters in Niobrara County, Wyoming and draining into the Missouri River, this beautiful tributary twists and turns across 568 miles. Classified as a wild and scenic river, the Niobrara is a recreational oasis for paddlers, anglers, and wildlife.
Though widely traversed by canoers, kayakers, and tubers, the most well traveled stretch of river only covers about 22 miles. This post shares my experience on a 3 day kayaking trip that pushed beyond the norm and covered 75 miles of river frontage plus the essential gear for the trip.
To kick off the journey, we put our boats in at Cornell Bridge, east of Valentine, NE. Cornell Bridge is the first access point of the “scenic” section of the Niobrara.
With a late start to the trip, we paddled through the dusk and darkness to cover as many miles as we could.
Over the course of 3 days, we encountered rapids requiring patience and a plan, thunderstorms that tested everyone’s endurance, and (thankfully) only a few minor kayak flips.
But above all….the comradery in the adventure stood out.
From helping to navigate the channels of the river, to sharing cooking responsibilities (and even eating like kings), as well as boosting each other’s morale when needed. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to have along on this journey.
At the end of the journey, we had covered 75 true river miles but well over 100 miles of paddling while zig zagging across the river to stick with the channel.
If you’re looking for an adventure then this trip is for you!
Regardless of whether its a 75 mile float trip, camping on the banks, or even just a stop at the river overlooks, be sure to check out the Niobrara River; it’s a true Nebraska gem!
Have you ever canoed, kayaked, or tubed the Niobrara River before or have it on your bucket list? Drop me a comment below! I’d love to hear about your own river travels!
Looking for more information on the Niobrara River? Take a peak at the resources below!
Thinking about planning your next outdoor trip? Check out these tips on gear to pack along!
This is such a simple task compared to the whole trip…packing your wardrobe. However; when faced with some unknown weather, it gets to be a little tricky to pack everything you need while still packing light.
For our journey, we faced hot temperatures of 80-90 degrees one day, to several rainstorms interspersed throughout the weekend.
If I learned anything about clothing on our trip, it was to make sure you have the proper clothes for any weather, especially to stay warm and dry when faced with sudden storms.
Bryce’s cousin and his wife packed along their First Lite gear for the trip. And after watching them be dry and warm compared to being drenched from continuous rain and not the greatest rain gear, once the trip was over I was sold! I was ready to purchase a whole wardrobe of First Lite!
If you’ve never heard of First Lite it is a company that specializes in premier hunting and outdoors gear.
Depending on what your recreational activities look like, there are different First Lite clothing lines specializing in being lightweight, moisture wicking, water repellent, etc. Basically a clothing line to meet whatever outdoor elements you’re up against!
Being your sleeping quarters over your trip, the tent is of utmost importance to any camping venture.
Finding a tent that is both compact, easy to set up and tear down, and WATERPROOF will prove to be a valuable asset.
If you’re looking for any suggestions, my husband and I have been impressed with The North Face Stormbreak 2 tent.
Why is a High Quality Tent That Important?
On the trip, Bryce and I traded tents with Bryce’s cousin and his wife. In addition to the two of us, my sister was along. So needless to say it would’ve been cozy for 3 in a 2 person tent! Bryce’s cousin has a 4 person tent so we swapped straight across.
Saturday night everyone crawled into their tents with rain flies on top, expecting rain.
In the middle of the night, I woke up to a gust of wind as loud as a freight train. With the gust of wind, it ripped half of the rain fly off the borrowed tent off!
Instantly, all three of us were awake and tying down the rain fly as fast as we could while the rain was coming down.
As the light sprinkles turned into a major downpour, we jumped into the tent with the re-attached rain fly…only to find rain still coming into the tent….
Needless to say soggy sleeping bags make for a long night. Thus why I stress the importance of having a rain tight tent.
With large doors that allow multi-configuration vestibules for gear, The Stormbreak 2 offers a great 2 person tent for 3 seasons.
Sometimes there’s a few tools or pieces of gear that just make a camping trip a little easier or more enjoyable. A few items of gear I’d like to add to our camping collection include a lightweight stove kit (mess kit plus propane burner), a percolator (I just couldn’t go with out coffee!), and dry bags (necessary to make sure you have dry clothes).
This list of “extras” of course looks a little different for everyone. But most of all, be prepared and be comfortable. It’ll make your whole trip more enjoyable!
DON’T WANT TO MISS A THING?
Special shout out to our awesome photographer on the trip, Brenton Lammers! Be sure to check out Brenton and Brooke’s endless adventures on Instagram! @brenton.lammers