Nebraska News Water

What are the best places for kayaking or canoeing in Nebraska?

Nebraska’s Top Spots for Paddling Enthusiasts

Nebraska may not be the first state that comes to mind for water sports, but its scenic rivers and lakes offer some of the best kayaking and canoeing experiences in the Midwest. From the tranquil waters of the Niobrara River to the expansive views of Lake McConaughy, Nebraska’s waterways cater to paddlers of all skill levels.

The Niobrara River: A Paddler’s Paradise

The Niobrara River is renowned for its gentle currents and rich biodiversity, making it a favorite among both novice and experienced paddlers. The river’s designation as a National Scenic River ensures a picturesque journey through sandstone cliffs and waterfalls. Outfitters along the river provide rentals and shuttle services, facilitating a seamless paddling adventure.

Lake McConaughy: Vast Waters Await

Lake McConaughy, Nebraska’s largest reservoir, offers over 30,000 acres of water surface to explore. Paddlers can enjoy the open waters and sandy beaches, with the chance to spot local wildlife. The lake’s size accommodates both serene paddles along the shoreline and more challenging open-water excursions.

Platte River: A Migratory Bird Haven

For those interested in combining paddling with bird watching, the Platte River is an ideal destination. During migration seasons, the river becomes a resting spot for hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes, offering a unique backdrop for canoeists and kayakers.


Q: Do I need a permit to kayak or canoe in Nebraska?
A: No permit is required for non-motorized boats, but some parks may require a vehicle park entry permit.

Q: Are there guided tours available?
A: Yes, several outfitters offer guided tours, especially on the Niobrara River.

Q: Is it safe to paddle in Nebraska’s waters?
A: Yes, with proper safety gear and awareness of weather and water conditions, paddling in Nebraska can be a safe activity.


Kayaking: The activity of paddling a small, narrow watercraft propelled by means of a double-bladed paddle.
Canoeing: The sport or activity of paddling a canoe with a single-bladed paddle.
Outfitter: A company that provides equipment and sometimes guides for outdoor activities.
Reservoir: A large natural or artificial lake used as a source of water supply.