Kayak 5 Hour | Ft Niobrara to Penbrook
This is our longest kayak trip which runs through the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge. This trip includes multiple waterfalls: Fort Falls, Berry Falls, Smith Falls & Big Cedar and a short little rapid at the end, Conner Rapids.
Ft Niobrara Launch (USFWS)
USFWS user fee is required for access through the Ft Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge. We are required to have a permit to operate on this section of the Niobrara and to co-insure the USFWS. You are required to abide by the specific rules through this portion of the Niobrara and you are encouraged to stay in or on your vessel with minimal noise. If you choose this Launch site then the fee per person will automatically be added to your reservation.
It is a beautiful stretch of river and well worth the consideration.
- The possession of and consumption of alcohol is prohibited through the refuge. Once you reach Berry Bridge the rule/regulation does not apply unless you are a minor.
Check-In / 433 E Hwy 20 in Valentine
- Required at the main office in Valentine. Either the day/night before or the morning of your trip unless other arrangements have already been made.
- Acquire Permits
- Sign Waivers
Morning Bus Shuttle
- Allow yourself enough travel time from Valentine to your Bus Shuttle pick up. It will take anywhere from thirty to forty-five minutes to arrive at the Bus stop. Arrive early so you can get your cooler and other items unloaded and ready to board the bus.
Frequently asked questions
When is the best time to float the Niobrara?
Canoe/Kayak - Peak conditions early Spring/Summer. Peak Season.
Tube - Pre Season, 70 degrees and above until Memorial Day weekend. Peak season, Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend.
How deep is the water?
The average depth of normal conditions is approximately 1.5 feet. There are areas that can be over your head. These areas are usually identified by cliff walls and the surface of the water. The smoother the surface the deeper the water. The choppier the water, the shallower and generally rockier.
Do you have to know how to paddle?
Basic strokes are necessary to paddle a canoe or kayak but the Niobrara River is a perfect place to learn. If you have no previous knowledge of paddling then it does not take long to introduce you to the basic strokes and get you on the water.
Can three people ride in a canoe?
Three adults are not allowed in the two-person canoe due to the weight capacity and depth of the Niobrara. However, children under eight years of age can ride in the middle of the canoe with two adults.
Do kayaks have a skirting?
No, our kayaks are recreational without skirting.
How old does a child have to be to kayak solo?
Generally nine-year-olds and above are physically capable.
How often do trips run?
Varies depending on the day. Please refer to the Calendar for more detailed information.
Is there an age restriction?
We do not have an age restriction however if the child or infant is under thirty pounds then you are required to supply your own life jacket to ensure proper fit.
Is alcohol allowed?
No Alcohol - Ft Niobrara to Berry Bridge.
Yes, Alcohol - Berry Bridge to Penbrook
Should I bring a towel?
Some people prefer to bring towels on tubes. They will not stay dry unless they are in a dry bag or dry cooler. Keep in mind if you do use them on your tube they will be full of sand at the end of your trip.
Are there restrooms along the way?
There are facilities at most major access areas. These can be found on public and private grounds so keep in mind that you may be accessing private property.
How long are the trips?
Trips can be as short as two hours or as long as seven hours. The length is determined by the equipment you decide to use and your takeout. Tubes will take twice as long as a canoe or kayak to float the same stretch of river. Available trips can be found on the Calendar.
What if the weather is bad?
Depending on conditions the launch time may be delayed.
What to Bring
- Swim Suit
- Sun Screen
- Bug Spray
- Water Shoes (flip flops are not recommended)
- Cooler (48 qt for cooler tubes)
- Long sleeve shirt (to prevent severe sunburn)
Berry Bridge Campground - 402-376-3474 (May 20th - Labor Day Sunday) Off Season - 402-376-2503
Valentine City Park
Fishberry RV Campground
Wacky West RV Park
Comfort Inn - 402-376-3300
Econo Lodge & Suites - 402-376-3131
Motel Raine - 402-376-2030
Niobrara Lodge - 402-376-3000
Super 8 - 402-376-1250
Trade Winds Motel - 402-376-1600