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Smith Falls State Park, Valentine

(4.9/5 based on 95+ reviews on the web)
Smith Falls, at 63 feet, is the highest waterfall in the state of Nebraska. Located 18 miles east of Valentine, the falls is part of Smith Falls State Park and is adjacent to the Niobrara National Scenic River. The state park was established by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission in 1992. In 1996, the historic Verdigris bridge was moved to its present site spanning the Niobrara River to provide more convenient public access.The falls are on a short spring-fed stream that plunges into a small canyon on the south side of the Niobrara. As the canyon is narrow and sheltered from direct sunlight, it is much cooler than the surrounding landscape; this allows a unique set of flora to grow that is atypical for the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The canyon is home to paper birch and an endemic hybrid grove of quaking aspen and bigtooth aspen .During the Wisconsin glaciation that ended around 10,000 years ago, north-central Nebraska was much cooler than it is today. The ice age climate supported boreal forest trees like birches, spruces, and aspens, all of which currently predominate in Canada. As the glaciers retreated, so did the boreal forest, which is ill-suited for hot, dry summers. However, the cool canyons along the Niobrara sheltered some of these trees.
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  • This is an amazing location that makes it seem like you're not in Nebraska anymore!! You can hike right to the falls and bathe in the water that is falling over the red rocks! Access the area by tube/...  more »
  • A beautiful area! We've been there in both the Fall and Summer. So peaceful. We lucked out during our mid week visit with no crowds. Tubing the Niobrara is also a fun adventure in the summer. 
  • My granddaughter , daughter and I took a photography adventure out west and this is one of the things we went to see. My granddaughter (9) LOVED it. She got in the water. LOL not realizing how cold it...  more »