5 Excellent Places for Beginners to Kayak in Nebraska

5 Excellent Places for Beginners to Kayak in Nebraska


There are some strikingly beautiful rivers and lakes in Nebraska that are perfect for lovers of kayaking. However, if you’re new to the sport, not to worry. There are plenty of spots for beginner kayakers to get out and enhance their skills in a safe, family-friendly environment. Maybe kayak in the presence of a guide or take a safety course for your first time on the water. Here are five excellent spots for beginners to kayak in Nebraska.

1. Niobrara River, Valentine, NE

Flowing through the Niobrara Valley in Valentine, kayaking down the Niobrara offers serene views of waterfalls and sandstone bluffs. Many stretches of the river are remote as it stretches for hundreds of miles. There are also plenty of places for beginners to drop in their kayaks as the Niobrara is a relatively easy-going river. The water level remains high consistently year-round, so you can also visit any time of the year. Just be warned that, at times, it can get a bit crowded during the summer months.

2. Olive Creek Lake, Olive Branch, NE

In Southeastern Nebraska, another good spot to kayak is the small reservoir named Olive Creek Lake. The waters are calm and you’ll also spot a lot of wildlife while kayaking around. The fishing at Olive Creek Lake is also great, so even beginners can kayak out to the best fishing spots.

Stealing sunshine between the storms. #pungo120 #kayaklife

A post shared by Michael Tretheway (@left_turn_mikey) on

3. Carter Lake, Omaha, NE

Another great spot for beginners to test out their kayaking skills is Carter Lake, just outside of Omaha. This shallow, oxbow lake is home to a large array of fish, so you can go kayaking and enjoy some excellent fishing. Just be warned it can get very busy on the weekends so it’s best to head out early!

A post shared by Bluejays (@creighton_rowing) on

4. Lake McConaughy

Almost all of the rivers in Nebraska are slow-flowing, but there are also plenty of lakes in the state that are great for beginner kayakers to hone their skills. Lake McConaughy in Keith County is another good option. As Nebraska’s largest reservoir, it is very accessible and perfect for those just getting their paddles in the water. 

5. Standing Bear Lake, Omaha, NE

Named after the once great Ponca Indian leader, Chief Standing Bear, the Standing Bear Lake in Omaha is another good, less-crowded option for beginner kayakers. With lots of access points, anyone can head out and have an enjoyable time at Standing Bear Lake.