Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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5 Summer Activities To Do In Valentine, NE

It’s every Midwesterner’s favorite time of year — summer.

Something about warm days and cool evenings makes people suddenly come alive again.

If you are looking for a unique and fun town to explore this summer, then look no further than Valentine, Nebraska, home of The Niobrara Lodge.

1. The Niobrara River

The scenic Niobrara River runs through Valentine and is one of Nebraska’s greatest rivers for a summer float.

From kayaking, canoeing, tubing, or even “tanking” (aka floating down the river in a giant stock tank, the Niobrara River (our hotel’s namesake) is one of the top rivers for entertainment in the Midwest.

Grab a favorite cold beverage and get out on the water this summer, you won’t regret it. 

By visiting the Visit Valentine website, you can decide where to rent your gear from as well as pricing. After a day on the river you can make your way back to The Niobrara Lodge to rest and catch a break from the sun!


  1. Smith Falls State Park

Did you know that Nebraska has waterfalls? 

One of the state’s best can be found near Valentine at Smith Falls! 

By visiting Smith Falls State Park, you can explore Nebraska’s highest waterfall at Smith Falls (the waterfalls 63 feet). 

The state park is just east of The Niobrara Lodge and has a 76-mile long stretch of scenic river. You have our full permission to go chase these waterfalls!

There are tons of options to hike, boat, fish, and canoe/kayak. Visit the Nebraska Game and Parks website for more information.


  1. Bolo Beer Co

Brewed in the heart of the Sandhills, Bolo is the brewery of choice in Valentine. The best part? It’s only a 2-minute walk from The Niobrara Lodge!

Whether your palate is a pilsner-style, IPA, wheat ale, or sour, “Chris the Brewer” has a beer on tap to fit your fancy.

While you’re visiting the taproom, don’t forget to check out Bolo’s awesome swag. How else will you show off your amazing trip to Valentine?

Their taproom is open Wednesday- Saturday from 4pm-10pm with varying events all summer long. Check out their Facebook page for the latest events. 


  1. Nebraska Star Party

    Merritt Reservoir July 24th-29th, 2022

Should the stars align for your trip to Valentine, you can witness this one-of-a-kind event in July.

One of the nations primer stargazing events is a must see in the Sandhills of Nebraska.

For five days both astronomers and curious spectators gather to view the impressive dark skies and experience the awe of space. 

The best part? You don’t even need a telescope! Just show up and you’ll be treated like an old friend.

Even if you travel here when the Nebraska Star Party is not meeting, the skies are darker here than just about anywhere in the continental U.S.  Simply walk outside at night and look up, the sky will capture you.

You can register online or do walk-in registration. Make sure to reserve your room at The Niobrara Lodge as space fills up fast for attendees of the Nebraska Star Party!   


  1. The Old Mill

Started by a missionary family from Ohio, this eat-in deli and pizzeria also sells unique snacks and pantry staples. 

The goal? To recreate something they missed from their home. The Result? A one stop shop that must be visited while in Valentine.

The bakery portion of the Old Mill is home to their famous cinnamon rolls and monster cookies. 

This is another walkable location from The Niobrara Lodge!

By following their Facebook page you can see daily updates of what The Old Mill is cooking up in the kitchen.

Nebraska, it’s not for everyone.

So whether you’re looking for a family friendly spot, a solo adventure, or a quick get away with friends, Valentine is a small town with big adventure!

Click here to book your Valentine getaway at The Niobrara Lodge now! We are close to everything Valentine has to offer.

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Our Commitment to Cleanliness

At the heart of the Niobrara Lodge is a genuine concern for our guests. Our primary commitment has always been to provide a safe and comfortable environment for Midwest travelers to tackle their next adventure.

We understand that the needs of our guests have significantly shifted since the start of the Covid-19 era, to which we have responded proactively.

We also understand there are many who are hesitant to travel under the current circumstances.

We do not wish to persuade anyone of a decision, but rather to instill confidence in those who are uncertain regarding their decision to travel.

Although, in complete lightheartedness, we’d like to remind you that there may be no better place to social distance than in the “Middle of Nowhere.”

Alright, that’s the only hint of persuasion you’ll find here.

Without further fanfare, allow us to detail our “Niobrara Clean” program: an initiative to keep our guests healthy during their stays at the Lodge.

  • High-Touch Double Clean
    Two is better than one. For all highly touched areas inside of and outside of a guest’s room, our housekeeping staff thoroughly sanitizes surfaces — twice.
  • Hospital-Grade Disinfectants
    Our powerful disinfectants exceed the standards set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These chemicals are safely used inside hospitals to destroy viruses like SARS-CoV-2, which is known to cause Covid-19.
  • Electrostatic Sanitization
    To ensure no spot is missed, we’ve incorporated electrostatic spray surface cleaning. This process sprays electrically-charged disinfectant particles that aggressively cling to surfaces in, around, above, below, between, and throughout our property.
  • Removal of Select Room Items
    Rooms are stocked with all the essentials — but only the essentials. In keeping with the reduction of touchpoints, we’ve removed unnecessary items from hotel rooms.
  • Constant Cleaning of Common Areas
    Outside of guest rooms, all high-traffic areas around our property are consistently and thoroughly cleaned.
  • Team Member Precautions
    We aim to keep our team members safe, which in turn helps keep our guests safe. By monitoring temperatures and wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE), our hotel staff seeks to protect guests from any viral transmissions.

Each of these measures has been carefully and thoughtfully crafted in consideration of the resources made available to us through the CDC, World Health Organization (WHO), and American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA).

While our priority remains the health and safety of our guests and staff, we also strive to provide exceptional comfort and service during this time. We believe health to be a mixture of physical and mental well-being, among others. The latter is often neglected in the Covid-19 era as a consequence of drastic measures to protect the former.

At the Niobrara Lodge, we’re here to preserve both.

Should you have any concerns or requests for additional information, please do not hesitate to contact our Front Desk. A member of our team will be more than happy to assist you.

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What Does Travel Look Like Ahead?

What Does Travel Look Like Ahead?

If you’re like us, you have many questions about the likelihood of your travel plans in the coming months. When will the social distancing guidelines be lifted? When can we continue to travel? When can we begin living normal lives again?


It’s a question that no one has the definitive answer to right now.

But there is good news.

Even amidst the difficulties of isolation brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, there are still ways we can enjoy the simple normalities of life sans COVID-19.*

In light of these travel concerns, The Niobrara Lodge has taken careful measures to ensure the sterilization of our property and the safety of our guests. 

That is to say, we are ready and willing to accommodate your next journey to the Valentine area — whenever that may be!

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — to date — has not issued advisories or restrictions against travel within the U.S. All states have reported cases of COVID-19, but certain areas are experiencing quicker rates of spread than others. Be sure to check the state- and local-level public health department websites for further information. 

Considering this, rural residents can breathe a little more deeply. Part of the beauty of life in the Nebraska Sandhills is the wide-open spaces. 

Social distancing is made a bit easier here.

With so many outdoor activities to enjoy, travelers may experience safer, more isolated environments than their home settings. 

Lastly, we wish to remind guests of one principle: While it is our wish to inject as much normalcy and positivity into the current situation as possible, we maintain that the top priority be the health and safety of our neighbors

Illness is not a risk worth taking, and we encourage everyone to make the responsible decision for themselves and their communities. 

No one knows when travel will return to normal.

But should you wish to escape to the “Middle of Nowhere” in the meantime, we’ll be ready to lodge you — safely and soundly.

*(Disclaimer: The regulations surrounding the coronavirus pandemic are constantly fluctuating, and we firmly advise guests to review the guidelines from the CDC and local public health departments before making any travel-related decisions.)

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To all of our guests —

At the Niobrara Lodge, the health and safety of our guests is and always will be our highest priority.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Niobrara Lodge will be following the national recommendations for enhanced cleaning methods, along with the recommended changes that have been suggested by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA). These recommendations have been largely implemented across the country in order to curb the spread and severity of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Please keep in mind that these changes are only temporary until the pandemic has abated.

By closely following the latest regulations, we hope to prevent the spread of COVID-19 around our properties and return to normal operations as quickly as possible. 

We understand that these changes may prove inconvenient, and we apologize for any disruptions in your travels. As always, please contact us with any questions around your stay or the measures we have implemented concerning COVID-19. 


The Niobrara Lodge Team

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Tips for Traveling With Your Pet

Contemplating whether or not to bring Fido on your next trip?

Maybe you’re a seasoned vet — (veteran, not veterinarian) — when it comes to bringing your pet alongside your adventures. 

But if you find yourself often leaving your furry friend at home, you and your family may be missing out on some fun times with Snoopy. (How many pet nicknames can we come up with?)

Follow these tips for traveling with your pet and your experience will be much smoother.

Here’s a hint: It’s easier than you think. 

1). Find pet-friendly accommodations. 

To avoid extra charges or unexpected cancellations, book your accommodations with pet-friendly lodging.

This free amenity is not all that common, so be sure to check the hotel’s pet policy before making your reservation. Some facilities implement surcharges for pets, while others forbid furry friends altogether.

If you’re traveling in the Sandhills, reserve your stay with the Niobrara Lodge — we never charge for pet guests.

2). Kennel them up. 

As fun as it is to keep Scooby in the front seat, they are both more likely to cause an accident and be injured in the event of an accident — a lose-lose situation. 

So, if you’re driving with your pet, the safest option is to keep them in a kennel or other comfortable restraining aid. Safety always comes first.

3). Bring the necessary accessories.

  • Food and water. Duh. But don’t forget to provide nourishment and hydration for your pet during your expedition. Keep a large container of water in your vehicle, along with food and water bowls for necessary pit stops.

  • Collar with tags. Your pet is in an unfamiliar place, and it is easy for them to get lost. In the unfortunate event that that happens, you will need to ensure the appropriate contact information is located on your pet’s collar. This comes in handy more times than we sometimes realize.

  • Leash. Another “duh,” but this will not be an item you wish to forget when stopped at a random exit off the interstate. Remember that your pet is more likely to venture off in this new environment.

  • Bed and blanket. Pets are not all that different from humans: foreign places can bring little bouts of nervousness. Bringing your pet’s bed and blanket from home will make them feel safer and more comfortable. And thanks to their keen sense of smell, the fabric’s scent will remind them of home, too.

  • Medical records. You may want to consider packing your pet’s medical records in the event of an emergency, especially if they have had any complications in the past.

  • Toy! Not that you would forget your pet’s favorite toy amidst the chaos of packing for a trip, but it happens to many. Leave a few toys in their kennel to protect against the possibility of lost toys. Or against hotel amenities “mistaken” as toys.

4). Make frequent pit stops along the route.

You may be cruising down the highway attempting to avoid any unnecessary stops until you’ve reached your destination. 

However, your pet has no idea where the destination is or when to expect arrival. 

Most veterinary authorities recommend stopping every 2-3 hours to give your pet a break. This part of the journey may be slightly more inconvenient, but hopefully their companionship is worth it. 


Traveling with a pet can seem daunting. With proper preparation and attention, however, the experience can be more enjoyable for all parties. 

All in all, only you know your pet well enough. Consider taking a short trip with them as a test run if you have not traveled with them before. If you’re unsure about the state of your pet’s health, consult a veterinarian before embarking on a journey.

More than likely, your pet owns an adventurous spirit. Do them a favor and let them explore new worlds alongside their best friend.

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Festive Events in Valentine This Holiday Season

When you think of bustling events in Valentine, your brain may wrack thoughts of the summer heat, long days, and the great outdoors.

While it’s true that Valentine’s tourism thrives in the summer season, there are plenty of events happening around the holidays to gear families up for Christmastime.

The trees are collecting snow, homes are lit up with decorations, and the air is filled with notes of Bing Crosby’s voice. ‘Tis the season!

Here are a few festive events in Valentine to go alongside your customary holiday traditions.

Holiday Preview

November 24

On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the Holiday Preview officially kicks off the holiday season.

From 1pm-5pm, merchants will open their stores full with holiday specials. Contests will be held throughout the day, including a punch card contest where holiday shoppers will receive a punch card filled with local stores, receive stamps by entering each store, and enter a completed card for a chance to win $500.

This punch-card contest will take place through the remainder of the week, and will conclude at the Parade of Lights on November 30.

In addition to the shopping buzz on the 24th, Santa Claus will make his first appearance in the town of Valentine.

Stop by to get ahead on your holiday shopping, enjoy some fellowship, and say “Hello” to the man in the red suit!

Parade of Lights

November 30

The annual Parade of Lights on Main Street will take place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

To see a host of lighted floats, along with an appearance from Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, head to Main Street on the evening of November 30th.

For those participating in the Holiday Preview’s punch-card contest, the $500 winner will also be selected at the parade. Plus — if the winner is in attendance — the grand prize will increase to $600!

Winterfest Craft Show

December 7

This annual craft and gift show is the perfect occassion to shop special, handmade gifts for those on your Christmas list.

The event takes place on Saturday, December 7, and will be held at the Cherry County Fairgrounds.

Customarily, attendees will enjoy a homemade bake sale, book fair, delicious concessions, and pleasant fellowship while shopping from a sizable selection of vendors.

Visit Winterfest’s Facebook page for updates and details on the event.

Visit Santa & His Reindeer

At various times throughout the holiday season, Mr. Claus and his reindeer will stop by the Valentine community for greetings and photos.

During the Holiday Preview on November 24, Santa will make his first appearance. Then, Santa will float down the Parade of Lights again on November 30.

On Saturday, December 14, Santa’s reindeer will be downtown for a special visit.

Saint Nick’s final appearance will be on Saturday, December 21.

Make sure to give your greetings on one of these dates before his return to the North Pole!

More holiday events are sure to fill up in the town of Valentine, but these are a few important ones to mark in your end-of-the-year calendar.

The significance of the season — however you choose to celebrate — is expressed in bringing friends and family together.

From all of us at The Niobrara Lodge, we wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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4 Community Stores to Shop in Valentine, NE

The Heart City is full of commerce, yet certain stores have a special knack for providing the community with products unique to the area.

For tourists, these storefronts are the ideal centers for gifts and souvenirs. And unlike the stereotypical souvenir shop, these goodies are fundamentally practical, valuable, and made with the quality you’d expect from craftsmen in the Sandhills region.

Whether a fresh pair of cowboy boots or jewelry handmade from local materials, this town has the type of coveted selection you won’t be able to find online.

  1. Young’s Western Wear

    Young’s Western Wear is a third generation family-owned clothing and merchandise store situated in the heart of downtown Valentine.

    At their core, Young’s Western Wear aims to provide the kind of quality gear built for
    the true cowboy. The store sells only the most trusted brands, and offers a broad selection of clothing and accessories for men, women, and children.

    Not only will you receive the type of service given to a prized customer, but you’ll walk out knowing your gear will last for the long haul. If you’re interested in learning more, check out their website:

  2. Auntie D’s Gift & Coffee Shop

    Auntie D’s is a true staple in Valentine. 

    Upon your first steps through the door, you’ll notice a plethora of cool gifts, home decor pieces, unique goodies, and the like. 

    But that’s only one facet of the store. Venture towards the back of the building, and you’ll find some of the best coffee and baked goods in town. 

    So whether you’re looking for a spot to go through your inbox while sipping some espresso, or a shop to supply fresh ideas for the next birthday present, you’ll likely end up at the same place. 

  3. Broken Spoke Boutique

    Although only a few years old, Broken Spoke feels like it’s been a town treasure for decades. 

    Started by South Carolina-native Whitney Mayhew, Broken Spoke occupies a century-old building right on Main Street. With an eye for all things design and architecture, Mayhew remodeled the historic building to fit the original twentieth-century layout. 

    Now, Broken Spoke supplies community members and tourists with a trendy selection of stylish, affordable, and quality clothing and accessories for women and children. 

    If you have yet to step inside Broken Spoke Boutique, make sure to pop in, hear the rest of their story, and peruse the fresh inventory. 

    Find more info — and shop online — here:

  4. Bolo Beer Co.

    After you’ve made your rounds at these local merchandise stores, go for another round at the Bolo Taproom.

    Native to Valentine, this brewery serves a wide array of craft beer in a no-frills fashion. Open Wednesday – Saturday from 4:00 pm -10:00-ish pm (as described on their website), the taproom is a great spot to taste Bolo’s delicious beer right from the source. 

    Find their full list of beers here:


While these Valentine businesses are diverse in product offering, one thing remains consistent: They’re run by honest, hard-working owners who seek to provide great value to their customers. 

When you shop local, you’ll experience much more than a great purchase. 

It’s how we do business in Valentine. 

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7 Summer Adventures in Valentine, NE

The area around Valentine, Nebraska comes alive during summertime. The rivers are flowing, the
landscape is thriving, and the people are smiling. With the warmer weather comes a seemingly
endless array of possibilities for outdoor adventures. So we compiled seven of our favorites to help
narrow it down.

Here are seven adventurous activities to do during summertime in Valentine, Nebraska.

  1. Float the Niobrara River

    Surrounded by sandstone cliffs, pine-tree-covered hills, riverside campsites, and hundreds of unique
    waterfalls, it’s no surprise the Niobrara River attracts thousands of tourists each summer.
    Whether you enjoy canoeing, kayaking, or tubing, the river is perfect for adventurers and chillaxers
    alike. The river itself is wide and holds hundreds of pools deep enough for a cooling swim —
    necessary from time to time to escape the bright sun. And with multiple local rental companies
    available to accommodate, your trip can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
    In short, the Niobrara is an absolute must.

  2. Smith Falls State Park

    At a height of nearly 70 feet, Smith Falls stands as the tallest waterfall in Nebraska. The famous waterfall is reached only via a beautiful, moderate hiking trail, which can be accessed from a campsite sitting beside the Niobrara River. Whether you’re floating, camping, or driving, you’ll have no problem finding this scenic State Park. And find it, you better.

  3. Cowboy Trail

    Once an old rail line built in the 1870s, the Cowboy Trail now exists as the longest “rails-to-trails” trail in the world. While it’s still being developed from abandoned railway to limestone trail, the route currently stretches approximately 195 miles from Norfolk to Valentine. Apart from the cool history of Wild West train travel, the trail provides expansive views of the Sandhills and a wide range of wildlife to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. Near the end of the Cowboy Trail in Valentine, be sure to check out the view of the Niobrara River Valley from 150 feet above at the famous trestle bridge.

  4. The Prairie Club

    Just 17 miles south of Valentine sits one of the top golf resorts in the world — without the usual sophistication associated with such places. As a semi-private destination, The Prairie Club offers world-class golf and lodging to its members and the public. With two of the Top 100 Public Golf Courses in America and a 10-hole short course modeled after the basketball game, “HORSE,” the links are perfectly situated on top of the Nebraska Sandhills and the Snake River Canyon. Find yourself there some evening enjoying a Nebraska ribeye while watching the sun set over the canyon, and you may be able to witness a Scottish bagpiper playing his pipes on the 18th green — reminiscent of the Old World golf design that exists here. The remoteness of this destination is one that can’t be beat. Definitely a place worthy of a pilgrimage.

  5. Stargazing

    Speaking of remote locations, this central land of America is famous for its incredible visibility of the Milky Way. Whether you’re an astronomer, photographer, or simply a wonderer of the universe, you’re sure to lose yourself gazing upon these bright night skies. While the stargazing is amazing all around Valentine, the Merritt Reservoir’s Snake Campground (30 miles south of Valentine) offers one of the best locations. Every year, this campground holds the annual Nebraska Star Party toward the end of July.

  6. Merritt Reservoir

    The Merritt Reservoir expands over 3,000 acres and holds some of the biggest trophy fish in Nebraska. While best-known for its walleye fishing, the lake also holds largemouth and smallmouth bass, perch, crappie, bluegill, and northern pike. The Reservoir offers more than just fishing, though. With sandy beaches and pure, clear water, the lake is great for boaters, swimmers, and beach-goers. A trip to the reservoir is often a necessity during the peak of the hot Nebraska summers.

  7. Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge

    Just a few miles south of Valentine, the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge protects a variety of plant and wildlife. Once an active military fort from 1879—1906, the land is now home to herds of bison and elk, as well as a host of other wildlife. The Refuge’s extensive trail system is perfect for those who desire to get outside and connect with nature. You’re sure to observe plenty of it along your route.

These seven iconic Nebraska summer activities will be sure to satisfy your craving for outdoor adventure. It’s
what we’re all about here in Valentine.

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The Bull Bash 2019: A Community Effort

February 23, 2019 —

Valentine, Nebraska’s largest event takes place every February, right here on Main Street.

It’s called The Bull Bash.

This community staple is for all ages— young and old— whether one is interested in bulls or not. This annual event has been a great way to learn updates of the industry, as well as the great local people who keep our community active here in Valentine.

At the Niobrara Lodge, we witness the event from just a few hundred yards down C. Street (Highway 20).

Either you’ve heard of the Bull Bash and know exactly what it entails, or perhaps you’re interest has been spurred.

The Bull Bash is a time when Valentine’s vibrancy is at a peak (aside from maybe Valentine’s Day itself, a few days later).

Let’s dive into the event!

The 2019 Bull Bash — Saturday, February 9th, 2019

The Bull Bash kicked off in the early 2000s, with this year’s rendition serving as the 18th Annual. It continues to grow in popularity with locals and new faces alike.

No matter if you live close, or are visiting Valentine for the first time—being a tourist in each and every community gives an experience unlike any other.

Valentine’s population is a little over 2700 people, however, it expands much further due to the strong rural ties in our area.

We’re the largest town within a 100-mile radius, so the town serves as a hub, especially in early February every year.

In 2019, there were 16 bull producers from South Dakota, Minnesota and Nebraska who proudly displayed livestock as well as commercial displays. Over 80 participants attended the local Livestock Judging Contest at the Valentine Livestock Auction yards.

The cold months of winter allow the ranchers and farmers more flexibility as they prepare for the upcoming warm season. Local businesses (especially in smaller communities) tend to see slower sales after the holiday months and as winter drags on.

The Bull Bash has become a valuable event for local fundraising efforts and economic impact, as this year it helped The Local Cancer Fund and Cherry County 4-H Programs.

There are a number of great activities to enjoy. The day is jam-packed and offers:

  • 5K Run/ Walk with the Bulls on Main Street
  • Indoor Craft Show at the new Connot Brothers Auction Building
  • People’s Choice Quilt Show
  • Sand Painters Art Show at the Sandhills State Bank
  • 4-H Luck of the Draw
  • Bull & Commercial Displays
  • A “Meet the Author” event with Bryan Jones, author of the book “North of the Platte, South of the Niobrara”
  • Wine Tasting
  • Drawing for Gun Raffle (and custom made hat)
  • Downtown business offered specials at their locations too.

Sadly, the 2019 event has come and gone.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t look forward to the 19th Annual Bull Bash!

To learn more about the event, visit their website at or check them out on their Facebook page.

We’d love to have you stay with us for the big event and to show you how Valentine is going to put together another great event.

We know winter months are always cold around here in February, but it is worth the visit.

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Welcome to Valentine

When someone says the word “diversity,” what comes to mind? People, culture, you name it – there are numerous aspects of our lives where we are thinking about what makes something special. Here in Valentine, however, diversity takes on a new meaning. We are talking about outdoor adventures. We are talking about exploration. We are talking about the Middle of Nowhere. Valentine is home to countless outdoor excursions – hunting, fishing, golfing, camping, you name it. And how could we forget to mention the illustrious Niobrara River?

Our little slice of paradise provides you with the opportunity to escape, unwind and explore some breath taking outdoor activities. Affectionately known as the Heart City, we at The Niobrara Lodge would like to be the first to welcome you to a place that is close to adventure, yet miles from ordinary.

Come explore with us.

The Niobrara River