Why You Should Visit
The Nature Conservancy's Niobrara Valley Preserve is one of the largest Conservancy preserves in the U.S., and a model for grassland management using bison, cattle and fire. It encompasses majestic pine-clad canyons, extensive grasslands, and a 25-mile stretch of the Niobrara River. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of the preserve year-round, and of special interest is the bison herd grazing in the vast open prairie.
Public Use Areas
Visitors are welcome to walk the new hiking trail west of the Preserve mailbox (foot traffic only, please). The trailhead includes a small parking area and information kiosk. You have your choice of the long loop or the short loop, both with grand views of the Niobrara River. You may enjoy the Norden chute at the Norden Bridge as well. Fishing is allowed with a Nebraska fishing permit. Please, no diving, camping or campfires.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The Nebraska Natural Heritage Program identified the Niobrara Valley Preserve as the biological crossroads of the Great Plains. To date, 581 plant, 213 bird, 86 lichen, 70 butterfly, 44 mammal, 25 fish, 17 reptile and 8 amphibian species have been recorded at the Preserve.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
The majority of the preserve was acquired by The Nature Conservancy in 1980. First and foremost, the Conservancy’s mission in establishing the Niobrara Valley Preserve was to ensure that its conservation value would be protected for the long term. Secondly, it is operated as a working ranch. We lease grasslands for cattle grazing, two bison herds graze two large pastures, and we pay property taxes like any private landowner. The Niobrara Valley Preserve hosts a community of researchers, ranchers, students, and conservation professionals, working together on this world-class natural laboratory.