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Republican River

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General Information

The Republican River begins at Haigler in extreme southwestern, Nebraska where the North Fork Republican and Republican River the Arikaree Rivers out of Colorado converge. It is also fed by another Colorado river, the South Fork Republican, and cuts through the northwest corner of Kansas , converging near Benkelman. From there it flows more than 200 miles east re-entering Kansas south-east of Superior and eventually dumping into Milford Lake northwest of Junction City.

As a result of four devastating floods in 1935 within 20 days, Swanson Reservoir at Trenton and Harlan County Lake at Republican City were constructed directly on the river. Today these reservoirs provide water to thousands of acres of cropland through a series of canals.

Section Described

Harlan County Lake Dam to Red Cloud - 49 miles.


The water levels of the Republican and its tributaries are significantly affected by hot, dry weather, intensive irrigation practices and rainfall of about 19 inches per year. Ironically the best times to canoe it are July and August, when the Corps of Engineers releases large quantities of water from Harlan County Lake. The place to start is below the Harlan County Lake Dam south of Republican City. Water releases usually have been adequate for canoeing during this period, but it is good practice to inquire with Corps of Engineers at (308) 799-2105 at Republican City about the levels before setting out on your trip and about camping facilities near the dam.

The Republican is a slow-flowing and extremely braided river. Look for the braid (channels) having the deeper water (darker color). Their course will vary greatly within the larger channel making for a winding and interesting trip. There are many islands with willow thickets that were created by long periods of low water flows.

Access Points

The trip begins south of Republican City at North Outlet Park (below the dam) operated by the Corps of Engineers. Republican City is located along U.S. 136 and you can get there by taking U.S. 183 through Alma or Nebraska 10 near Franklin. Take Berrigan Road at the east end of city, then go south until you see the signs for the park. The park contains modern camping, boating, picnicking and sanitary facilities. To follow the general course of the river by road, you can take U.S. 136 or the gravel county road shown on the map.

The canoe parking lot is east of the dam and you must carry your canoe and supplies about 50 yards through a wooded area to the point of entry. It is 4.7 river miles (2-4 hours) to the Naponnee Bridge. You can take out or set in on the south side of the river west of the bridge. From the Naponee bridge to Bloomington bridge is 8.1 river miles (4-6 hours) where access and parking is south of the river and east of the bridge. The first primitive camp is 4.1 river miles (3-4 hours) from the Bloomington bridge, north side. From the camp to Bislow’s Landing access point near the county road on the south side, is 3.2 ( 2 hours) river miles. From the landing to the next primitive camp east of Riverton, on the south side, is 13.2 river miles ( 6-7 hours). If necessary, you can get out the bridges, but it is difficult because of steep banks and narrow road shoulders. The primitive camp at Red Cloud is 15.6 river miles (8-10 hours) and is south of the river just west of the U.S. 281 bridge where there is parking and automobile access to the river, trips end.


The river is flanked by hilly land with moderate to steep loess slopes, and sharp ridge crests. The valley is 3/4 to 2 miles wide and is occupied by farmland. Among the stands of cottonwood and willows are deer, turkeys, beavers, herons, coyotes, foxes and channel catfish in the river.

Services Available

  • Alma, (308) 928-2151
  • Franklin, (308) 425-6221
  • Red Cloud, (402) 746-2291
There are some excellent local recreation facilities in many of the towns along U.S. 136.

Dialing 911 will reach emergency personnel in the area.

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