Plan Your Visit

Niobrara and Canoe

Fort Niobrara NWR is a great place to see, appreciate, and learn about wildlife and their habitats. The Refuge offers many opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation.

Fort Niobrara provides numerous recreation opportunities to thousands of visitors every year. People enjoy viewing the unique geology and diverse wildlife, whether tubing, driving or hiking. Regulation of recreation activities allow for public enjoyment of the refuge while still protecting the wildlife and habitats.

  • The refuge is open from sunrise to sunset.
  • Elk and deer hunting by muzzleloader and archery equipment is permitted on the refuge in accordance with federal and state regulations. Special refuge hunting regulations also apply.  Hunters should consult refuge hunting regulations and Nebraska state hunting regulations.
  • Firearms and other weapons are subject to state law. At all times, persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuge System lands must comply with all provisions of State and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations (50 CFR 27.42 and specific refuge regulations in 50 CFR Part 32), i.e., only during the lawful pursuit of game during legal seasons.
  • Other prohibitions on the refuge are dogs off-leash; off-road vehicles; and collecting of plants, animals, minerals, antlers and artifacts.

Headquarters and Visitor Center

A visitor center, with informative displays and exhibits, a bookstore, and staff to answer your questions, is open 8:00 am – 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, except for Federal holidays.

Auto Tour Route, Scenic Overlook

A 3.5-mile, self-guided auto tour route starts near the visitor center and provides the opportunity to view bison, prairie dogs, and other natural and historic points of interest.A scenic overlook on the refuge just off Highway 12 provides views of the Nebraska Sandhills and the Niobrara River Corridor.

Fort Niobrara Wilderness Area and Nature Trail

A strenuous 0.9 mile nature trail descends stairs from the Fort Falls parking lot into the wilderness area to the base of Fort Falls. The trail then continues to the river before circling back to the parking area via the top of the canyon rim.
The more adventurous visitor can enjoy the Fort Niobrara Wilderness Area on foot or by floating the Niobrara River. Allow 2-4 hours for a float trip through the Refuge. To help offset the costs of providing visitor services, a small fee of $1 per person is charged for launching on Fort Niobrara NWR. Private outfitters in the area rent watercraft and provide shuttle services. 

Special Activities

Visitors can “experience” refuge management each fall by watching the Bison Roundup and Auction. Special activities for children include Kid’s Fishing Day and the Junior Ranger Program. Please contact the Refuge staff for information on these and other special activities that may be taking place during your visit.

For driving directions, please visit our "Contact" page.

For questions about recreation, please contact the refuge office.