My heart is so full because this lovely place is in my home state. I was under this weird impression that waterfalls couldn't exist in Nebraska. Too much flat land and cows I guess.
Google, you are a beautiful thing. Thank you for giving me local adventures and being so much smarter than me.
Not gonna lie, I thought about skipping this place. I had just spent two uncomfortable days in a cabin with more fear than I wanna admit. I was not up for exploring. I wanted to be in my hometown sitting by a fire, drinking hot chocolate, and editing photos. Instead, I was fearfully trying to find a gas station in the middle of nowhere South Dakota at 5 freakin' thirty am.
Eventually I found one and after a hot cup of Casey's coffee, I was ready to let God run my day and the events that would fill it. Before, I contemplated skipping the falls and heading straight to my next hotel. After, I realized that a trip to Smith Falls would help me arrive at my hotel around check-in time and not hours before. Man, if I would have left straight for the Badlands that day, I would have killed some serious joy God was tryin' give me. Here's seven tips for visiting the falls...
1. Smith Falls is located on the outskirts of Valentine, Nebraska. Here's the address: 90615 Smith Falls Rd, Valentine, NE 69201. I read online reviews about the falls being difficult to find, but I found it pretty easily with this address and watching people closely who were returning from the falls.
2. You can buy your park pass in the park office, which is the first building you'll see entering the park. The entrance to the building is the opposite side of the parking lot. Click here for office hours.
3. Entry Permit:
4. To reach the falls, you need to head down the staircase right outside of the park office.
5. At the bottom of the staircase, you'll hang a sharp right onto a white rock path and cross THIS bridge over the Niobrara.
6. I was a bit intimidated by the walk and the fact that I had no idea where I was going. Thankfully, this experience will help you find the falls smoothly! After you're off the bridge, you should notice a winding wood deck. This walk is a little creepy alone but hey, so so worth it.
7. Bring an actual camera if you have one. These falls are freakin' magical. I was surprised to be the only one there, but dang I was so blessed to be. It was probably one of the coolest moments of my life.
Next time someone says Nebraska is boring, imma whip my phone out so fast and show them this waterfall. I can't believe I went 20 years without knowing about this place. How well do you know your home state?
*What is your absolute favorite waterfall experience?
*Do you have a bucket list for your home state? What's on it?
Travel bucket list:
Countries visited: 5
states left: 11