Nebraska Map

Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge

Contact Info
National Wildlife Refuge System
HC 14 Box 67
Valentine, NE 69201



Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is 19,131 acres in size and located 4 miles east of Valentine along the Niobrara River in north-central Nebraska. Fort Niobrara NWR was established by Executive Order in January 1912 as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds. Its purpose was expanded later that same year to include the preservation of bison and elk herds representative of those that once roamed the Great Plains.

Approximately 350 head of buffalo, 70 head of elk, a prairie dog town, and deer can be found on the Refuge. The rolling sandhills and breaks along the Niobrara River canyon are home to a great variety of wildlife. In the winter, bald and golden eagles can be seen along the river. Wild turkeys are spotted among the birch, burr oak, and Ponderosa pine. The unusual and unique assemblage of plant communities currently present on the Refuge, including sandhills prairie, mixed prairie, Rocky Mountain coniferous forest, eastern deciduous forest, and northern boreal forest, supports a rich diversity of wildlife largely unchanged from pre-settlement times.

The Refuge offers many activities for visitors. Bison, elk, deer, and prairie dogs can be seen along the wildlife drive at all times of the year. Interpretive displays at the visitor center explore the history and ecology of the area. Hiking trails lead to Fort Falls and, for the more adventurous, into the Niobrara River Wilderness Area. Canoeing or tubing through the Refuge down the Niobrara River is a popular activity.

Map + Directions

Basic Directions

Fort Niobrara NWR is located about 5 miles east of Valentine, Nebraska, on U.S. Highway 12. The visitor center is about 1* miles from the Refuge entrance. Various directional signs are located along the route.

Customizable Directions

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