People are often surprised to learn that we have any waterfalls at all in Nebraska. Granted, we don’t have many major falls, but along the Niobrara and some other rivers you can find many smaller falls. The largest and arguably most impressive waterfall in the state is Smith Falls, 18 miles outside of Valentine.
You'll find Smith Falls, appropriately, in Smith Falls State Park.
The side of the park where the falls are found has no vehicle access. You have to take a footbridge across the Niobrara to reach the falls. The walk is well worth it.
This is the highest waterfall in the state.
Standing at a proud 63 feet, you won't find a higher waterfall anywhere in Nebraska.
This natural wonder has been called one of the most romantic sites in Nebraska.
The majestic power of the falls is hard to resist. Couples come here on dates and even to get engaged. There's just something about the natural setting and the rare sight of a Nebraska waterfall that make Smith Falls a very special place...especially if you're brave enough to play in the cold water together.
On the falls side of the river, the state is working very hard to preserve the unique biological treasures.
An unusual micro-climate exists here, making the falls area a bit cooler than the surrounding land. Some unique plants and trees grow in that small, secluded canyon. These make the falls an area of ecological importance.
The bridge that connects the north side of the park to the south side - where the falls are - has a history of its own.
The historic Verdigris bridge was moved to its current location in 1996, four years after Smith Falls was designated a state park. The bridge provides the perfect place to stand and watch canoers and tubers on the Niobrara drift by.
Smith Falls State Park isn't all about the waterfall.
Although the waterfall is arguably the most impressive part of the park, you'll find lots of other things to do here. Hiking trails are take you through some marvelously wooded areas, but hikers are required to stay on established trails in order to protect the unique and delicate setting. Camping, picnic areas, restrooms, and concessions are all available on the north (non-falls) side of the park. And then, of course, there is always the impressive Niobrara river to be admired.
Have you ever visited Smith Falls? How did you feel about your time there? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments!