The best camping near
Valentine, NEBRASKA

42 Reviews 34 Campgrounds
Most Recent Valentine Camping Reviews

Beautiful campground! Excellent boat ramp and fish cleaning station!

Just Gorgeous!

The family was here this past weekend and all I can say is BEAUTIFUL! The falls are majestic, the river is serene, the camp spots are big, quiet nights, stunning stars, just a real treat for the family! This is a new favorite for us and we will be back for sure!

Pit stop

Smith Falls State Park in NE is a good stop over while floating on the river. An awesome waterfall to hike to and some interesting roads to drive in on. Not good for RV’s unless you have 4 wheel drive and a high clearance type camper. This is the typical basic campground. There was a group present on a float trip and I learned that this is the highest waterfall in NE, which just goes to show how flat the state is :) Seeiously though it is worth a look.

Saw no snakes

Snake River Area Campground near Valentine, NE is on the Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area.

Can you say sand! And fishing. The nice thing about this entire area is one: you don’t see much of the park employees, it’s pretty much all honor system based. Which means if you occupy an entire campground you can stay up as late or early as you want. You can also be as loud or quiet as you like too. Two: This is definitely a water based vacation. The reservoir offers plenty to do and the campground is shaded and did I mention sandy. Dark at night, like pitch black. Critters are around so secure your food. Picnic tables, pit toilets, fire pits and a trash receptacle.

There is the Niobrara River nearby which is the major attraction of the area for float trips. Valentine, NE has food and fuel plus events throughout the year.

Bring your fishing gear

At Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area near Valentine, NE you have some choices to make. There are Merritt Main, Willow Cove , Lone Tree, Cottonwood , Pines, Cedar Bay , Beeds and Board Campgrounds to choose from. Each has sites near the Reservoir or further back in the scrub that have fire rings and picnic tables. Some have electric options, showers and boatramps. All have at least a pit toilet and dumpster. (And sand)

The state employees were a little scarce when I visited and the weather was not real inviting. I decided to not float on the Reservoir due to the low temperatures, but it would seem that the Nebraskans are a little hardier and used to the cold temperatures then me because there were a few out on the water fishing.

This area would be ideal for a large group get together and out in the middle of nowhere so any noise shouldn’t be an issue. I heard coyotes and it was pitch black at night, had the sky been clear the stars would have been amazing.

Valentine, NE is nearby for resupply and entertainment and there are some other recreation areas that offer hiking and of course floating on the Niobrara River.

Here to fish

Merritt Reservoir Main Area Campground in Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area, NE is one of many camping options throughout the area.

This is the largest of the campgrounds in the State Recreation Area. There is a fish cleaning area nearby with camper dumpsite. A pit toilet and dumpster are available and each site has a fire ring and picnic table. In addition there is A LOT of sand;) If you are a fisherman this area is ideal for you! If your looking for hiking and land past times not so much.

About 30 minutes down the road is Valentine, NE for your food, fuel and supply needs. Otherwise this area is dark and quiet at night…..except for the wildlife of course.Bring your stargazing gear for additional entertainment and don’t forget lots of bug repellent:)

Base camp

Wacky West Travel Park had very nice and helpful owners. Make sure you have the phone number because their office hours are limited so that they can keep up the park. It’s small and a little crowded but serves the purpose of a base camp or overnight location.

I attended a “Sisters on the Fly” event in Valentine, NE and this is were we all met and camped. The owners squeezed us all in and gave us a discount for our stay. One nice thing is you are in the middle of town right off the main drag so you can walk anywhere in town pretty easily.

The restroom and shower are keyed which you receive when you check in. Down side to that I forgot to drop my key in the mail slot when I left and had to go back to do so.

There is electric/water hook up at each site, not much in the way of shade , limitedfire rings and picnic tables. You could tell several of the sites were more towards permanent dwellings and some of the sites sat right on the entry road so you step out your camper door into the road. These sites were stacked so two of our group didn’t even try to unhook their campers.

If you’ve never experienced sand burrs Nebraska has them and they are horrible on dogs feet. The owner of the campground made extra efforts to keep the burrs out of the immediate camping area but my dogs still picked up several. There is a cattle yard directly behind the campground so I’m not sure how it smells when it’s hot, we were there in cold weather so it was not an issue.

Valentine has events going on and the Niobrara River is a main attraction, several of the group did a kayak float and explored the waterfalls along the river. We also walked to dinner within 1/4 mile at an excellent restaurant, Peppermill Steakhouse, worth a visit.

The three stars is due to the location, cramped accommodations and no recreation in the immediate area. However the owners were very accommodating and the facilities were well maintained. I would stay there again. Also I lost the pictures of the campground and Valentine but included the nearby recreation areas.


Valentine City Park in Valentine, NE is not a vacation destination per-say. That being said it is a highly useful place if you are passing through or in the area for an event/family get together,etc.

Down a side street off the main “drag” of Valentine, you drive through a neighborhood and down the hill to a nice, shaded typical city park. There is a creek that meanders through the middle of the park with several bridges, vehicle and foot, that connect a nice little trail and disc golf area and also a rentable venue(there was a wedding/reception going on when we visited). A playground, restroom and parking areas. The sites are basic, fire ring, maybe a picnic table and run along the creek. Once again this is a city park so there are more passerby’s then at regular campgrounds but for the most part it was quiet.

There is a “lake” across the road but it doesn’t really seem to be a recreation type place, or maybe it was just a slow week because other things were going on. (A Cowboy event and cattle roundup) So, functional and things to do but there are better recreation areas nearby if your are looking for a destination to camp and fish, explore.

I lost all my pictures of Valentine and the park but have included the nearby recreation areas. Valentine has the usual, fuel, truck stop(showers), food and entertainment. There were several excellent restaurants but some have limited hours.

Merritt Res.

Love camping at Merritt. Many different campsites to choose from. Walk up and extended stay. Great fishing and boating. The Scenic Sandhills surround the lake and on the biggest hill is always Ole Glory our up every year by a local business owner that frequents the lake. Hunting around Merritt is great too from deer to grouse. Merritt is a year round sportsman’s lake.

One of many

Beeds Landing Area Campground in Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area, NE is one of many camping options throughout the area.

Beeds has two areas to pick from. To the left is the boatramp so there is more traffic in that area. The right side is a little more secluded. A pit toilet and dumpster are available and each site has a fire ring and picnic table.

Unfortunately the weather was not ideal during our visit so being near the water was not a must. However if you are a fisherman this area is ideal for you! At the main campground area is a nice pavilion fish cleaning area as well as the camper dumpsite.

About 30 minutes down the road is Valentine, NE for your food, fuel and supply needs. Otherwise this area is dark and quiet at night…..except for the wildlife of course.Bring your stargazing gear for additional entertainment and don’t forget your bug repellent:)

Sand and water but no beach

Boardman Creek Area Campground is one of many campgrounds in the Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area.

I likes Boardman Creek because of the site we used had direct put in and was secluded at the end of the camping area. I used a primitive site but Boardman has electric hook ups as well. There’s a pit toilet, dumpster, fire rings and picnic tables plus plenty of shade…..not that we needed it on our misty overcast outing but if you come in the middle of the summer it would be good;)

I saw no park employees so insure you read all signs and follow directions on paying for your site, visit and post your tickets correctly at your site.

There are no trails to speak of, only water, sand and fishing. So bring your gear and entertainment with you. There is a nice fish cleaning pavilion at the main campground and Valentine, NE is about 30 minutes up the road for fuel, food and supplies.

4 Wheel drive

Powder Horn Area Campground is part of Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area near Valentine, NE.

I traveled this area in September, when I left Kentucky it was in the 80’s, my first night in the Valentine area it got down to 41 and didn’t go above 55 for the entire time I was there. That being said pack a variety of clothes because the locals said it can be in the 70’s one day and snow the next this time of year ;)

Powder Horn is on the far side of the Merritt dam close to the entrance of the Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest. I’m from Kentucky and there is no forest in McKelvie, just a lot of prairie grass, sand and hills. Think of the desert with long grass on top. Pretty in a stark sense.

Powder Horn is a primitive campground set up with lots of trails off the main road in, a 4 wheel drive might be needed for some of the areas. There is a pit toilet and a boatramp in the main area otherwise you’ve a choice of locations to set up base camp. Merritt is all about fishing, there is a fish cleaning pavilion in the main camp area on the other side of the dam. I did not see an employee my entire time in the area, bring cash to pay for your site. Valentine was about 30 minutes away with fuel, food and some entertainment.

Wonderful Park along Niobrara

Perfect hiking areas. Primitive camping. Wonderful and well built trail up to the tallest waterfall in Nebraska

Almost backwoods

Right along the Niobrara River you can truly emerge yourself in the wonders of Nebraska wildlife. Have to go through a lot of ranch land to get there, but in the end there's no service, no running water and all stars

Sandhills camping with miles of quiet sandy beaches

Wuiet campground with restrooms with plumbing and showers. Sites with and without power for tents and RVs. Miles of quiet beaches, even on holiday weekends.

Relax and enjoy

We come here every year with a small group of friends and have a wonderful time. Whether we are out on the lake boating, or fishing, or this year trying to kayak, or by the camp fire telling stories, we always have fun. The sites are mostly shaded at Cedar Bay where we camp and are Electric only, but they are nice large sites and you have plenty of room. Everyone is very friendly. It is usually packed on weekends. Cell service can get be hard to get so prepare those teens.

WiFi kinda sucked

This is a very nice campground. I was here for an overnight stay. Staff was very friendly. Sites are large pull through a with full hookups. They state there is free high speed wifi, However, while I was there I was unable to connect and it is not secure! The campground is well maintained and offers a quiet stop for those traveling through. It could also make for a better location for bigger rigs to stop and unhitch so that you can explore the area without a big rig on your back. I will certainly return here again!!

Not for RV's

per se..I was considering staying here, but after a visit without my rig on my back, I decided it wasn't for me. A very long, graded, extremely bumpy road to the State Park. Also a couple of 7-8% grades along the route. Campground is small. Seems to be mostly for people in tents, floating the river. I did see one pop-up trailer camped there. most sites are what I would call walk-in, as the signs indicate "no vehicles beyond this point". So glad I did'nt pull my rig down here. And, while I didn't stay here, I think my review can be helpful to others with RV's. Especially rigs bigger than my 27 foot travel trailer.

Great outfitter on the Niobrara

I have been going to Sharps for 15+ years. We tent camp and the sights are always clean. Best spots along the river! We will continue to go for years to come and wont stay anywhere else. Great staff…great location…great outfitter!!!

Tent Camping

We have tent camped at Sharps for the last 10 years. The campsite is always clean and the staff is warm and friendly. They make sure we have the best possible experience. We will only tent camp here.

Hospitable and diverse

There are different campgrounds for different people! There is a separate campground for more quiet people and a campground for people who like to stay up late and listen to music (my friends)! We have been going for almost 5 years know and they us every time we come!

City park. Close to Highway so it might be a little noisey

Most cities in Nebraska have these type of site. Grass and sand but has 30 amp electric. Has a dump station along with restrooms and showers. Good place to stay one night. Need to check out the grocery store next to the site.

Our Go-To Spot

Always peaceful and family friendly. Several different camp areas with primitive or hook up options. Several boat docks, good fishing, shower facilities, and more!


close to town but quiet


such a pretty spot!


a good place for gatherings

nice little store

the starting place for tubing down the river, has station with bathrooms, very helpful.

cute little cabins!

stayed here after our wedding reception, and good place to get away with everything you could need provided!


a fun place to relax in a cute little town, faaar from cell reception!

So much fun!

We have went tubing here multiple times over the years, Smith Falls is a great place to grab lunch halfway and cool off!