The best time to float the Niobrara National Scenic River is a weekday, preferably before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. Summer weekends can be insane with mobs of tubers whose prime objective seems to be to get drunk and naked.
We started our float at Berry Bridge, stopped for a snack at Smith Falls State Park and took the short walk to the falls. Past Brewer Bridge, we encountered a couple of class I+ rapids. There was not enough water in the right channel above Fritz's Island for our canoe, but it looked like a maybe for kayaks.
All too soon, we arrived at our camp at Rocky Ford. The 15-mile trip, with occasional stops, took about 5 hours; way too short!
Lots of outfitters and campgrounds along the river and several motels in Valentine.
Outfitters may charge launch and landing fees. Some areas upstream and downstream require permission or permits from various organizations or agencies.
There are several access roads heading south from Nebraska Hwy 12.
Excellent river guides and access map are available at www.nps.gov/niob