Rules and Regulations

Welcome to the Niobrara National Scenic River Valley. The following are some rules & regulations to help make your trip safe and enjoyable. Once you turn off of HWY 12 at Sparks you will be on graveled county roads. Please drive slow and safe. These roads are considered open range, watch for cattle, horses, deer or other wild animals crossing the roads, as well as people.


We ask all groups to check in at our office (Graham Canoe Outfitters -GCO) in Valentine 30 minutes prior to your departure time. We are located on the corner of Highway 20/83 and Government St. on the east side of Valentine. (If using a GPS, type in 603 C Street, Valentine, NE, 69201)


1. Cornell Bridge Launch Site on Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge
Some trips begin at Cornell Bridge in Launch Site #3., on Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, 3 miles east of Valentine. Vessels are hauled to your starting point and picked up at your destination by Graham Canoe Outfitters.

Regulation Summary for Fort Niobrara Wildlife Refuge:
  • A $1 user fee per person is required (included in rental price). Each person is required to wear a wristband while floating through the Refuge. Wristbands can be purchased at the iron ranger or the Refuge Headquarters for people with private vessels.
  • Maximum 5 tubes may be tied together, including tubes used for hauling coolers.
  • POSSESSION of the following items are prohibited:
    • Alcohol
    • Firearms (hunting is prohibited)
    • High Volume radios (boom boxes)
    • Any device capable of shooting or directing a projectile or liquid at a person, including, but not limited to, water balloons, high pressure water cannons, paint ball guns, potato guns, and sling shots.
  • Leave what you find, where you find it. Do not remove plants, rocks, objects, or     artifacts. Federal Law protects these items. It is unlawful to search for or remove them from the Refuge.
  • Poison Ivy is very common in the wilderness. “Leaves of three, leave them be”.
  • Travel on stable surfaces if you leave the water. If there is a trail, stay on it.
  • Do not climb on cliffs
  • Let the sounds of nature prevail. Keep noise to a minimum.
  • Do not disturb the wildlife or birds.

2. Buffalo Bridge: No road access.
  • Fort Niobrara Wilderness Trail Access. Please check in at the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge headquarters if you plan to hike in the Wilderness area. 

3. Berry Bridge Concession/Campground:
  • This public restroom can be accessed either from the river or county road and was provided by the Niobrara Council.

4. Allen Bridge: No Access for Graham Outfitters' vessels.

5. Smith Falls State Park: 402-376-1306
  • Smith Falls is approximately 70 feet tall, the highest waterfall in Nebraska. To view the falls you will have a 200-yard hike. All vehicles driven into the park are required to have a State Park Permit:
    • Day Pass ......................................$6 for Nebraska residents, $8 out of state residents
    • Annual permit..........................…..$30
    • Camping fees.........................…..$15/site for 2 tents
  • Reservations are recommended for camping.
  • No RV Hook-ups but areas for parking
  • Coin operated showers available.
  • Two Shelters (one with kitchen and one without kitchen). Check at Park Office for Fee.

6. Brewer Bridge & NRD Public Day Use Area for Landing, Launching & Picnicking:
  • Restrooms are provided by the Niobrara Council and can be accessed from the river and the road.
  • Please keep the ramp free of vessels
  • Do not litter * No fires *No camping * No alcohol * Day Use Only

7.  County Line Bridge: No access


8. Sunny Brook Camp: Note: Alcohol free campground and landing.

  •  Private vessel landing fee............….$5/vessel
  •  Private parking fee……………………………$8/vehicle
  • RV hook-ups available

9.  Wildcat Camp:  Vessels go no further than Wildcat Camp. Wildcat Camp is a primitive but beautiful camp without a lot of traffic located just below Sunny Brook Camp. It is the last take out for our vessels. There are no hookups, no electricity, and no showers; just a port-a-potty, picnic tables, fire rings, a great landing, a good road and gorgeous scenery.

·         Camping by reservation only……….$8/person over 10yrs/per night

·         Private vessel landing……….......…$5/vessel

·         Private vehicle parking………........ $8/vehicle