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Elkhorn River in Nebraska

Trip Overview

Elkhorn River was up (5.5 feet) and very navigable for a late Spring paddle. Three of us set out on a windy May day, temps in the 40s that morning, but they warmed up to the 70s, quite nice.

The stretch we chose was from Elkhorn Crossing to Q Street bridge. Most people take out at a nice canoe access area in Waterloo, but they miss the bluffs and sandstone formations downriver. This stretch of the Elkhorn is not particularly scenic until you get down below Dodge Street, where the bluffs and sandstone formations lie.

I call this a moderate paddle because we were paddling in cold and moving water due to the early Spring period, and the amount of water moving downstream. Later in the Summer, the Elkhorn becomes a lazy, sandbar-filled river where you have to constantly keep abreast of the current or you'll run aground.

The Elkhorn River has a nice canoe trail starting at Norfolk, NE. Check the Nebraska DNR web site for more information. Campsites at state and county parks located along the way.


Primitive camping facilities available at put-in at Elkhorn Crossing. Fresh water available (pump/well).


Directions to takeout:

Take Q Street West out of Omaha until you reach 240 Street. Q Street becomes West Q Road at a certain point. Turn left at the bridge...there is a big sign on the left side of the road that indicates a nearby Catholic day camp. Parking is about a quarter of a mile on down the road a bit. You should have no problem finding it.

Directions to put-in:
Go West on Dodge out of Omaha...West until you hit Hwy 275N toward Waterloo/Valley. Take for the 252nd/Meigs Road exit from 275, and follow that road for several miles until you see the sign for Elkhorn Crossing. Turn right at the sign for Elkhorn Crossing and follow the dirt road down to the river. There is ample parking at this put-in.

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip