We’re well-known river lovers here in Nebraska. The rivers that run through our state were a vital part of its beginnings, and they continue to play a huge role in our everyday lives and in the way we play. Every single one of our rivers (and there are LOTS) is spectacular, but these are a few that stand out from the crowd.
1. Big Blue RIver
This river was once the subject of a water use dispute between Nebraska and Kansas, where the Big Blue joins with the Kansas River. In Nebraska, it runs quietly through agricultural land in the vicinity of Beatrice and Seward.
2. Calamus River
Most of us are familiar with Calamus Reservoir as a recreation area, but the Calamus River is the source of all that water. Before the dam was built, the Calamus was considered for designation as a scenic river as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
3. Dismal River
Despite its melancholy name, the Dismal River is actually breathtakingly beautiful and full of surprises. It bubbles up from the Ogallala Aquifer and stretches for a scant 71.9 miles before joining with the Middle Loup River. In places, the water bubbles up from beneath the sand to create a very strange quicksand effect.
4. Elkhorn River
Located in the eastern Sandhills, the Elkhorn River was encountered and described by Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition. Pioneers headed west camped out along the banks waiting to cross the river; the site is now marked with the recreation area known as Elkhorn Crossing.
5. Little Blue River
The Little Blue's watershed was used as a navigational tool both by Oregon Trail migrants and Pony Express Riders. Ever wonder where the Big Blue and Little Blue got their names? Before agriculture took hold in the area, the waters had a distinct blue tint. The water has since been muddied by silt runoff from generations worth of plowing.
6. Missouri River
The Mighty Mo was once the lifeblood of Nebraska. A great deal of the state's commerce depended on the river in the early days. Long before this land was called Nebraska, the native people relied on the river to sustain and nourish them.
7. Niobrara River
The long Niobrara runs for an impressive 568 miles through Nebraska and Wyoming. A 76-mile section of the river, most of which is on privately owned land, has been designated a National Scenic River. (You can still see and utilize the parts on private property, but there are some rules and limitations in place.) The Niobrara is hugely popular with tubers, kayakers, and canoers.
8. North Loup River
A tributary of the larger Loup River, the North Loup is partially diverted for irrigation for part of the year. But in the spring and fall, it flows at full force and is a fantastic canoeing destination.
9. Platte RIver
Nebraska as we know it just wouldn't exist without the Platte River. It was instrumental in early settlers' navigation of the region even though it proved too shallow for canoe travel. Long before European settlers moved in, many Native American tribes made their homes along the Platte's banks.
10. Snake River
The Snake River is a small, 126-mile tributary of the Niobrara that flows through the Sandhills and terminates at Merritt Reservoir. But just before the reservoir is the magnificent Snake Falls, the state's largest waterfall by volume.
11. White River
A Missouri River tributary, the White River rises just north of Harrison in the Pine Ridge. It passes Crawford before crossing into South Dakota. It's one of Nebraska's lesser-known rivers, but it's a beautiful sight nonetheless.
Have you visited all of these rivers in Nebraska? Which was your favorite? Tell us all about it in the comments.