Nebraska’s rivers flow
gently, making them ideal for family outings as well as an excellent resource
for those learning to handle unmotorized watercraft. On the International Scale
of River Difficulty, Nebraska’s rivers generally rate Class I: Easy. This is
defined as moving water with riffles and small waves; few obstacles; risk to
swimmer is slight; self-rescue is easy. An exception is the Niobrara River
where there are several Class II, III and IV rapids that require portage.
Remember: Only the water
belongs to the state of Nebraska. The riverbeds and all adjacent lands are the
property of the landowner through which the water flows. Appreciate the fact
that you have the privilege of using the waterway. Respect the landowner and
their property. Nebraska statutes give you the permission to portage around
fences and other obstructions; however, you are responsible for any damage to
the property. You must have landowner’s permission to picnic or camp.
River flows vary greatly.
Some rivers experience lower water levels during summer due to heat and crop
irrigation. Such conditions can turn a float trip into a hike for those who
have not planned ahead. In addition, river flows, along with wind speed and
direction, and paddler’s effort can result in considerable variations in float
time. Trip plans should account for personnel, outdoor conditions and river
flow to ensure you reach camp well before sunset.
Calamus River | Cedar River | Dismal River | Elkhorn River | Lower Missouri River |
Niobrara River |
North Loup River | Platte River | Republican River | Upper Missouri River |
U.S. Geological Survey quadrangle maps can be
SNR Map and Publication Store
101 Hardin Hall, 3310 Holdrege St.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, Nebraska 68583-0961
Or online at: