Nebraska's Tallest Waterfalls
Of the Niobrara River Valley’s many waterfalls, the tallest is Smith Falls, 15 miles northeast of Valentine on Highway 12, then four miles south on a marked county road. The spring-fed falls drop 70 feet and flow out to bolster the Niobrara River.
The short hike to Smith Falls is half the fun. A historic iron truss bridge, open to pedestrians only, spans the Niobrara River. A trail leads across a grassy field into a secluded little canyon. Follow the boardwalk to the waterfall and experience its weight with a cool shower.
Also on the south side of the river, the Jim McAllister Nature Trail is a self-guided hiking trail, more than a mile long, which leads through a portion of the Niobrara River Valley. Known as the “biological crossroads of the Great Plains,” this stretch of the Niobrara is a place where eastern and western species of plants and animals overlap – six distinct biological systems in all. Most noticeable is the bird life living here – some of it seen nowhere else in Nebraska.
You don’t have to be a biologist to appreciate the beauty of the valley’s natural diversity. The park is open April 1 through Nov. 30. Camping is available. Office hours are 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day. (402) 376-1306.
For more information about Valentine and area attractions, contact the Valentine Visitor Center at (800) 658-4024 or visit http://visitvalentine.org