Thursday, July 30, 2015

Smith Falls State Park

Our first stop today was to visit the Smith Falls State Park and especially Smith Falls.  This park is 18 miles east of Valentine, Nebraska on Highway 12.  This park is the newest State Park in Nebraska and the park itself is absolutely worth seeing.  I'd love to bring family here some time and float down the Niobrara River as we saw many families doing today.  There is just enough current to keep you moving and there are very few places that are very deep.  Most of the time you can stand up and be in less than knee deep water - sometimes ankle deep!  There is one hangup, however, and that is the road coming into the park.

When we turned off the highway, we turned on to a nice black topped road as you might expect.  It quickly turned into the worst road we traveled in years.  It was like driving on a five mile washboard of considerable size.  We were forced to drive 5 MPH to maintain control of the vehicle.  And, once we were on this road, there was no where to turn around!  We found out later that the State only rents the land for this state park and that may have something to do with it.  I can't imagine being a worker in this park and inflicting the kind of damage that this would do to any vehicle's front end.  We certainly hope that the State of Nebraska takes care of this quickly.  We watched an almost new Motor Home drive in and the man did not look at all happy.  He was probably camping in the area.  That must have been some drive!!

This sign lets you know that you are headed the right way on the hike to the falls.  You start at the Visitor Center and then walk down a bunch of stairs to another level of the park.  From there you keep walking.

Verdigris Bridge

We crossed over a historic bridge that was moved here to span the Niobrara River and provide more convenient public access to Smith Falls.

As we walked toward the falls we came to another wooden staircase and started to follow it up the hill.  We went by this little falls on the way.

First sight of some falls but this isn't it.

The boardway went on for quite awhile.   

Nice walkway to the falls

Smith Falls

Children playing beneath the falls

Standing here on the boardwalk near the falls was like going into an air-conditioned room.  We didn't want to leave!

Standing on the historic bridge on the way back, it was fun seeing all the people who were tubing down the river.  It was sure a good day for it as the temperatures got into the 90's today.  We were here in the morning so it wasn't too bad yet.  It got much worse as the day progressed.

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