Off the Beaten Path: Discover Nebraska’s Lesser-Known Waterfalls

More than 200 waterfalls line the Niobrara National Scenic River near Valentine. Some are well known, many a little more hidden. Here, go waterfall hunting and find new spots to wade on the riverbank and enjoy the cool spray of the spring-fed water. Pro tip: Listen for the trickling 

Fort Niobrara Wildlife Refuge
Arrowhead Falls

Arrowhead Falls Waterfall
Photo Credit: NPS

Arrowhead Falls shows the protruding "nose" at the top that is characteristic of Niobrara National Scenic River waterfalls. This fall is unmarked at the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, but if you explore the side creeks , you might find the Sandhills treasure.

Cross Falls

Cross Falls Waterfall
Photo Credit: NPS

The journey to Cross Falls allows visitors to immerse themselves in the surrounding natural wonders, including the lush vegetation and diverse wildlife that call the area home. Cross Falls is located on a short spring branch near the Niobrara. This is another unmarked fall at the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge.

Fort Falls

Fort Falls Waterfall
Photo Credit: NPS/Ryan Schmieder

The beautiful 45-foot Fort Falls is popular with people of all ages and probably the most well-known on this list. A short hike, this cascading wonder is found along the Fort Falls Trail in the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge.

Tyler Falls

Tyler Falls Waterfall
Photo Credit: NPS/Kristen Maxfield

Tyler Falls is not only beautiful, it’s a popular fishing destination! Located inside the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, it flows downstream of Fort Falls and the two can be hiked two from each other. Tyler Falls is downstream of Fort Falls, and you have to take the Wilderness Access trail and then go "off trail" to get to it-- it's pretty easy to float to, just stop on the creeks on the south side. 

Niobrara Valley Preserve
Big Cedar Falls

Big Cedar Falls Waterfall

Photo Credit: NPS/Gordon Warrick

Witness the captivating allure of Twin Falls, also known as Big Cedar, as it gracefully cascades over two sides of the formation. You'll find this waterfall tucked away within the Niobrara Valley Preserve. Instructions for finding this natural wonder are under Refrigerator Falls.

Nordon Chute

Norton Chute
Photo Credit: NPS/ Bobbie Roshone

Norden Chute is an impressive hydraulic feature on the Niobrara River and bears a resemblance to a waterfall. This area full of natural beauty is easily accessible from Niobrara Valley Preserve, just follow the trailhead near the Conservancy mailbox. All chute visitors should exercise caution and avoid entering the water near the rapids.

Refrigerator Falls

Refrigerator Falls
Photo Credit: NPS/Bobbie Jo Pennington

Visitors can walk behind the frigid water of Refrigerator Falls, sometimes called Icebox Falls. These names given because of the water's cold temps. Upon coming ashore from your canoe or any other watercraft, an adventure awaits as you begin your journey along the creek's scenic pathway. To reach Refrigerator (Icebox) Falls, simply veer right and follow the creek upstream. Conversely, if you opt to remain on the primary trail, it will lead you to the magnificent Big Cedar Falls.

Stairstep Falls

Stairstep Falls
Photo Credit: NPS

Stairstep Falls is also on the Niobrara Valley Preserve downstream of Big Cedar and is a beloved attraction among river floaters. This scenic waterfall is easily accessible from the river, and visitors can spot it shortly after passing Sharp's Landing, as there is a sign indicating its location. This area is privately owned visitors to the Preserve are welcome but asked to show love and respect to nature.

Private Property
Berry Falls

Berry Falls
Photo Credit: NPS

About ten feet tall this beauty flows from the nearby Berry Bridge Creek. Berry Falls is less than three miles east of Smith Falls and a popular stop for tubers and kayakers, located right on the shoreline of the Niobrara River. This fall is on private property and visitors are asked to not climb or explore the banks around the falls.