Tanking, Tubing and More: Water Adventures through Nebraska's Sandhills

What's the best way to beat the summer heat? How about this water adventure-filled itinerary that takes you floating down a couple of Nebraska's Sandhills rivers, through the state's tallest waterfall and finishes at Grand Island's one-of-a-kind waterpark!

Day 1
Somethin' Else Cafe

733 US-20
Valentine, NE
United States

(402) 376-9261

Start off your day with breakfast at this friendly and locally owned stop.

Tube, Kayak or Canoe the Niobrara River with LIttle Outlaw

1005 E. US-20
Valentine, NE
United States

(402) 376-1822

There are plenty of ways to experience the National Scenic Niobrara River, and Little Outlaw offers all of the options you and your group or family could ever want! Choose to tube, canoe or kayak and pick whichever trip length and difficulty suits you. Whether you choose to relax on a tube or try out your paddling skills, they've got rentals and resources to make your river adventure a memorable one.

Bulldoggers BBQ

223 S. Main St
Valentine, NE
United States

(402) 376-2786

You'll be glad you stumbled on this hole-in-the-wall Southern-style BBQ joint in the middle of the Sandhills. Come for the pulled pork, brisket, ribs and chicken and stay for the friendly atmosphere and service.

Smith Falls State Park

90165 Smith Falls Rd
Valentine, NE
United States

(402) 376-1306

You may pass by the area on your river trip, but make it a point to come back and experience the state park that houses Nebraska's tallest waterfall. Take a hike to the falls and enjoy the wonder (and water) up close.

Peppermill & E.K. Valentine Lounge

502 E. US-20
Valentine, NE
United States

(402) 376-2800

Enjoy a quality selection of dishes, including homemade dinners, steaks, sandwiches and more, made with fresh ingredients and Nebraska-produced beef.

The Niobrara Lodge

803 E. US-20
Valentine, NE
United States

(402) 376-3000

Enjoy your stay in a location that's close to all of the action Valentine has to offer.

smith falls

Smith Falls

Day 2
Tank Down the Calamus River with Calamus Outfitters

83720 Valleyview Ave
Burwell, NE
United States

(308) 346-4697

After you make the two-hour drive southeast to Burwell, you'll have a chance to take on the quintessential Nebraska adventure: Traveling a river in a livestock tank! Calamus Outfitters offers two and four-hour trips, and tubes are available for rental as well.

Learn more about other nearby river adventures and outfitters.

Pizza Palace

204 Grand Ave
Burwell, NE
United States

(308) 346-5200

Take a break for the day with some fantastic local pizza.

Calamus State Recreation Area

42285 York Point Rd
Burwell, NE
United States

(308) 346-5666

Spanning more than 5,000 acres, Calamus Reservoir is a lake-lover's paradise. Enjoy swimming, hiking, fishing and picnicking on this rolling state recreation area nestled in the Sandhills.


223 Grand Ave
Burwell, NE
United States

(308) 346-5474

You can expect great grill food any day of the week. Give the burgers a try!

Sandhills Suites

412 Grand Ave
Burwell, NE
United States

(308) 346-4964

You'll enjoy your stay at these suites that are spacious and modern with touches of historical architecture.


Tanking the Middle Loup River with Glidden Canoe Rentals

Day 3
Something's Brewing Cafe

140 S. 15th St
Ord, NE
United States

(308) 730-1177

Take the short drive to Ord and stop by Something's Brewing for a coffee and a breakfast treat.

Island Oasis Water Park

321 E. Fonner Park Rd
Grand Island, NE
United States

(308) 385-5381

Discover fun for anyone in the family, whether it's at the wave pool, lazy river, giant water slides or pools. Full amenities include sand volleyball and concessions.