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Valentine, NE Area Attractions
The Niobrara National Scenic River is not only Nebraska's most popular canoeing river, but is also among the top 10 canoeing rivers in the U.S., according to Backpacker magazine.
Birding Nebraska's Sandhills
One of the state's most beautiful birding venues is Highway 97 through the Sandhills from Valentine to North Platte. This area is perfect for catching glimpses of the sandhills crane and rare whooping crane.
The Sandhills are local sand dunes, the largest tract of stabilized dunes in the Western Hemisphere.
Arthur Bowring Ranch State Historical Park
The history of Sandhills ranch life is on display at Arthur Bowring Ranch State Historical Park, a 7,202-acre ranch located three miles north and east of Merriman off Highway 20.
Valentine City Parks
Enjoy the beauty of nature at Valentine's parks. With a number of city parks offering a variety of activities to choose from.
The Cowboy Trail is a "rails-to-trails" project, converting the abandoned Chicago and Northwestern Railroad route to a graveled recreation trail with wooden-decked bridges.
There are a number of museums in the area with displays featuring early-day cattlemen, Fort Niobrara, Native Americans, U.S. wars, and daily life of the pioneer era.
Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest
Only in the Sandhills would you fi nd a national forest that's mostly grass. "Only" 5,000 acres of Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest are wooded with Eastern Red Cedar, Scotch, Jack and Ponderosa pine. The other 110,000 acres are sandhills prairie.
Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area
Located in the midst of the Sandhills, Merritt Reservoir is 28 miles southwest of Valentine on Highway 97. The lake has nearly 3,000 acres of water, pure sand beaches and 73 miles of tree-lined shore.
In 2004, a National Parks Service-sponsored study cataloged the waterfalls of the Niobrara. Leonard Mason, a graduate student at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, found more than 180 falls along a 20-mile stretch of the valley.
Smith Falls State Park
Of the Niobrara River Valley's many waterfalls, the tallest is Smith Falls, 15 miles northeast of Valentine on Highway 12. The spring-fed falls, Nebraska's tallest, drop 70 feet and fl ow out to the Niobrara River.
Snake River Falls
Among Nebraska's most spectacular waterfalls, Snake River Falls rushes over a 54-foot-wide ledge. When the Snake is full, it rushes over the edge at a rate of 230 cubic feet per second and sprays mist across the canyon.
Valentine State Fish Hatchery
Spread over 700 acres and including 21 ponds, the hatchery handles 60 million walleye eggs, five million perch eggs and three million northern pike eggs (in addition to other species of fish) annually.
Valentine National Wildlife Refuge
The 72,000-acre Valentine National Wildlife Refuge is 20 miles south of Valentine on Highway 83. Th e refuge is a collection of shallow lakes surrounded by marshes, deep in a remote Sandhills landscape.