Activities include sightseeing, hiking, canoeing, golfing, and boating. Boat rentals are available at Merritt Resort. You can see elk, deer, bison, & more at the nearby wildlife refuge. Or, you may want to visit the Rosebud Casino at the Rosebud Reservation just across the South Dakota border.
-For a relaxing and cooling break from summer’s heat, canoe or tube down the spring-fed Niobrara River, the only national scenic river in the great plains. The Niobrara is rated one of the top ten canoeing rivers in the country by Backpacker Magazine. Steep canyons rimmed with birch, oak, and pine trees frame the river in spectacular beauty. Valentine is the starting point for river trips. Each year many families take to the water, some in canoes and some on tubes to explore the longest stretch of scenic river in Nebraska.
-The highest waterfall in the state is Smith Falls, located 17 miles northeast of Valentine along the Niobrara River in Smith Falls State Park. Paper birch trees flank its 65 foot drop. Though in Nebraska “high” is relative, Smith Falls is a must-see stopping point for those canoeing the Niobrara. The falls can also be reached by car on Hwy 12. Hiking and nature trails wind through the area.
-A short distance north of Merritt Reservoir along Nebraska Highway 97 is Snake River Falls. This is the largest waterfall by volume in the state.
-The Cherry County Historical Society Museum is found at the intersection of Highways 20 and 83 in Valentine. This log cabin dating from 1882 boasts a quality collection of artifacts and photos of homesteaders, native Americans, and pioneer town builders. Open selected hours from May through September.
-Centennial Hall Museum, at 2nd and Macomb in Valentine, is housed in an 1897 brick school building which is on the National Register of Historic Places. It contains large collections of china and bells along with homestead, school, church, and cowboy artifacts. Open Fridays and Saturdays from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
-For an authentic view of Lakota life visit the Rosebud Indian Reservation. Pow wows are held in different communities almost every weekend during the summer. There are hand-crafted items for sale such as jewelry and star quilts. The Buechel Lakota Museum is located on the reservation, located directly north of Cherry County in South Dakota.
-Rosebud Casino offers practical exercises in applied statistical probability nine miles north of Valentine on the Rosebud reservation. Open 24 hours, a shuttle is available from the city of Valentine.
-The Arthur Bowring Sandhills Ranch, three miles north and east of Merriman, is a State Historical Park and the state’s first and only living history ranch. Features a restored “soddy” – one of the stacked sod homes constructed by settlers from available materials, Bowring home tours, and the Eve Bowring Visitor Center.
-The McKelvie National Forest is 116,000 acres of native prairie that includes 2,200 acres of man-planted conifer forest. The area is good for camping, hiking, bird watching, and hunting.
-The State Fish Hatchery, two miles north of Valentine, offers tours. It is open between May 15 and September 15.
-Valentine National Wildlife Refuge, has great fishing for northern pike, bass, bluegill and perch. A favorite Nebraska destination for ice fisherman.
-Fort Niobrara Wildlife Refuge, five miles east of Valentine, features a drive-through exhibition pasture to view elk, buffalo,deer, and prairie dogs. A visitor center and Fort Falls waterfall complete the attraction.
For additional information you may call the Valentine Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-658-4024 or check out the Visit Valentine website. These people are friendly and helpful, and they have lots of good information.
Smith Falls State Park
The Prairie Club, destination golf
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