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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!
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.
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:)
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.
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.
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!!
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.