10 Best Kayaking Destinations in Nebraska


Nebraska does not have a good reputation as a tourist destination. It is not a place that comes on top of the mind of most people when thinking about outdoor activities to enjoy. In fact, many would say that it is barren and boring.

Nonetheless, Nebraska is gifted with pristine lakes and rivers, providing excellent opportunities to bring your kayak and paddle!

No idea about where to go kayaking in Nebraska? We got you covered! Read on and learn from some of our recommendations.

1. Niobrara River

The Niobrara National Scenic River is one of the most popular spots in Nebraska where you can bring your whitewater kayak. The river is slow and easy-going, making it an ideal place for those who are just starting to learn the fundamentals of kayaking.

To enjoy your visit to the Niobrara River, proper timing is essential. As much as possible, avoid the summer season. During such time, it is filled with party-goers. People float and drink, which isn’t really an ideal environment for kayaking, especially if you are looking for tranquility or an area where you can practice proper kayak paddling techniques.

The good thing is that the water level remains consistent throughout the year. It does not matter when you visit, you can always expect a good condition for you to go kayaking.

2. Dismal River

For those who are looking for a more thrilling adventure on a kayak, this is one of the best choices. With a total length of 80 miles, the rapids have an average speed of 6 to 8 mph, which makes it quite challenging to navigate. This isn’t a place where you can bring your folding kayak since the rapids might be too fast. Instead, bring a hard shell or any kayak that is tough enough.

The best time to go here for a kayaking trip is mid-summer. By this time, it is clear of many of the obstructions. Still, the rapids will be challenging but it will be easier compared to how it was at any other time of the year. Regardless of the season, it should be noted that this isn’t a river for those who are new to kayaking.

3. Platte River

With a length of almost 310 miles, this is one of the major rivers in the state, making it another great pick for kayaking in Nebraska. It is the junction of the North Platte and South Platte rivers. One thing that makes this an interesting destination is how it is braided, which allows it to break off and rejoin different flows.

It is a calm river that is perfect for beginners. You can use inflatable kayaks for whitewater without worries. There are no strong rapids that will be too difficult for your kayak to deal with.

There are also opportunities for wildlife spotting, especially bald eagles and pelicans.

4. Lake McConaughy

This is another popular recreational area that joins our list of the best places to kayak in Nebraska. Locally known as Big Mac, it is 30,500 acres and is known as the largest reservoir in the state. The popularity of this lake can be attributed to the fact that it is easily accessible.

It is a good place to bring your tandem fishing kayak, especially during spring. It offers plenty of opportunities to take home a fresh catch, including walleye, trout, and catfish, among others.

5. Carter Lake


This is a shallow lake that is a part of both Iowa and Nebraska. Do not forget to bring your kayak fishing rods, tackle boxes, and other kayak fishing accessories. It has a reputation as one of the best lakes to go fishing. It is a great place to find some fresh bluegill, bullheads, and carp.

Before you go, be warned – the lake is quite small. This means that it can easily get crowded, especially during the summer season. This may also make it hard to navigate the water, especially as a beginner.

6. Lake Wanahoo

Located in Sanders County, this has been built in the 1990s to control flooding in the area. More than being instrumental in flood control, it is also popular today as a venue for different recreational activities, including kayaking.

While there is no doubt that it is a great venue for kayaking in Nebraska, it is not the only thing that you can do in Lake Wanahoo. You can also go boating, biking, hiking, and hunting. For those who would like to spend a couple of days, there are campsites and shower facilities.

7. Glenn Cunningham Lake

Located in Douglas County, in the city of Omaha, the lake is 160 hectares. Since it opened in 1977, it became one of the most popular sports in the area for kayaking and sailing, among other recreational activities.

There is a park that surrounds the lake, providing visitors with more ways to have fun during their visit. Once you had too much kayaking, you can also go cycling and horseback riding.

8. Merritt Reservoir

If you are looking for picturesque places to kayak in Nebraska, this is one that should be on your radar.  It has five boat ramps, which will provide easy access when you would like to launch your kayak. Even motorized kayaks are permitted here!

Around the lake, 38 campsites are present, providing excellent accommodation opportunities for those who would like to go beyond a day trip. There is also a lakeside resort for a tranquil place to stay over the night.

9. Olive Creek Lake

Even if this is a small reservoir, it is worth your time because there is plenty of fish you can catch. Catfish and walleye are bountiful, so you will never be frustrated when you go here for kayak fishing. Make sure that you learn kayak fishing safety and first aid before you go!

The area has more than 612 acres of land and water, so this is not just a place where you can go kayaking. Weekend warriors will like its accessibility. It is also great for hunting. For those who would like to go boating, meanwhile, it is important to note that the speed limit that is imposed is 5 mph.

10. Morning Star Lake

Located in Central Nebraska, it is just at the east of Platte River. The lake is spring-fed, which is why the water here is crystal-clear.

Along the shoreline, there are more than 40 homes. If you would like to spend more than a day here, you can rent some of these homes.

While it is good almost any time of the year, if you want the experience to be fun and if you don’t mind sharing the place with a crowd, it is best to visit on the 4th of July when there is a huge community celebration.

Globo Surfer Overview

It is easy to write off Nebraska for anyone who is planning an outdoor adventure. If you are already in the area or nearby, why not give it the chance? It is not the most beautiful, but there are still several options for places to kayak in Nebraska. You might just end up being surprised by what will confront you!

More Kayak Reviews:


  1. 15 Best Lakes in Nebraska, TheCrazyTourist.com
Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!