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Old 08-08-2007, 03:05 PM
 
Location: Omaha, Ne
884 posts, read 67,223 times
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Default Niobrara Tubing?

Anyone know of a good camp site off the Niobrara which isnt state owned(I like to drink beer when I camp) and offers some sort of a shuttle service so we can tube down the river all day and have a ride back to the camp site. I have been talking w/rock barn outfitters and they seem very strict as far as alcohol is concerned. Any info would be awsome...thanks.
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Old 07-07-2008, 06:19 PM
 
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we are going to stay at Sharps Outfitters in Sparks, NE. ( www.sharpsoutfitters.com ) they have transportations to and from landing points. alcohol is allowed for the entire tube ride. if you leave early enough, you can tube all the way down to Fritz's Island, that is a full 7 to 8 hours. hope this helps.
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Old 07-07-2008, 08:49 PM
 
Location: Portland, OR
39 posts, read 178,262 times
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Hey I actually just returned yesterday from tubing down the Niobrara! It was awesome, except for the last 20 mins of the ride when it started pouring! We still had lots of fun though

Anyways, we stayed at Stan's Landing/Fritz Island Campground (campniobrara.com) and we thought it was perfect. We had two sites at the end, it was very very quiet, and right on the river. There were no alcohol rules - we drank all weekend. Also, with the campsite we paid for tubing, and the bus picked us up right there at the campsites lodge/bathroom/shower/mini store...

Let me know if you have more questions.
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Old 07-07-2008, 09:36 PM
 
Location: west Omaha
475 posts, read 1,565,273 times
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You city folk better be careful up there now, you here? :P

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Old 07-08-2008, 06:02 AM
 
Location: Sandhills
2,177 posts, read 2,145,325 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by youwholisa View Post
we are going to stay at Sharps Outfitters in Sparks, NE. ( www.sharpsoutfitters.com ) they have transportations to and from landing points. alcohol is allowed for the entire tube ride. if you leave early enough, you can tube all the way down to Fritz's Island, that is a full 7 to 8 hours. hope this helps.

I would be checking the alcohol allowed for whole canoe trip part. You may find yourself paying a hefty fine. Alcohol is not allowed on the river in any sections of it. Private campgrounds yes, but not on the river.
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Old 07-08-2008, 07:51 AM
 
Location: Portland, OR
39 posts, read 178,262 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandhills Guru View Post
I would be checking the alcohol allowed for whole canoe trip part. You may find yourself paying a hefty fine. Alcohol is not allowed on the river in any sections of it. Private campgrounds yes, but not on the river.
Actually, this is not true... We floated on Saturday, and were allowed to drink the whole time - with one exception. When we parked our tubes at the entrance to Smith Falls park.... if we had stepped foot on land with alcohol there, we could have faced a large fine. However, while ON THE RIVER, alcohol is allowed. We actually had a state parks and wildlife ranger pull up on his canoe and give us trash bags and inform us that as long as we did not have any alcohol on shore, we were fine to drink the whole way down! We were pleasantly surprised to have him be very friendly and informative! Again, besides the rain at the end, it was a great experience!

Here is a couple pictures of the awesome Smith Falls....






And, right before putting us into the water (they tie all the tubes together and help you shove your cooler into a "cooler tube"....

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Old 07-08-2008, 10:39 AM
 
369 posts, read 775,770 times
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Well, you have just touched on a subject that has a whole lot of "grey area."

The upper part of the river is in a National Wildlife Refuge. There is an federal prohibition on the possession and consumption of alcohol in a NWR, and that is strictly enforced by the USFW Agents there. Not much grey area there, pretty B&W.

Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge: Nebraska

When the river flows through Smith Falls State Park, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has a regulation prohibiting the possession of open containers of alcohol. They only seem to enforce it when you step onto the land there, however. You can find that reg using this link (Select Game and Parks and enter "alcohol"):
Nebraska Secretary of State - John A. Gale It is also well-posted. Again, not much grey there.

The Middle Niobrara NRD does not allow alcohol at their landings. As a political subdivision of the state, the NRD must specifically authorize the consumption of alcohol on their property for it to be legal, something MNNRD apparently doesn't do (more on 53-186 later).

Most of the rest of the river there is a "National Scenic River" managed by the National Parks Service. While NPS prohibits alcohol in most National Parks, they seem to be mum on whether or not you can have it at "NIOB." This is all they have to say:

Alcohol -
Alcoholic beverages may be neither possessed nor consumed in the Fort Niobrara National Wildllife Refuge. Alcohol may be possessed, but not consumed in the Mid Niobrara Natural Resource District boat landing and in Smith Falls State Park. Private campgrounds may have thier own regulations. Remember that alcohol affects your coordination, balance and judgement, skills that are necessary to safely float the river.

http://www.nps.gov/niob/planyourvisit/rules-and-regulations.htm

Just to cloud the issue more, there is a state law, 53-186, that prohibits the consumption of alcohol on any property owned or controlled by the "state" or any political subdivision thereof. So, how much of that river is owner or controlled by "the state," besides what we have already discussed?

The private campgrounds, as private businesses, can choose to allow or prohibit alcohol in their campgrounds. If they sell it, they obviously have to be licensed by the state to do so.

As most people can attest to, enforcement is spotty at best all along the river. When there is enforcement they worry more about life jackets, MIP's, and obnoxious behavior than then average recreator with a cold beer. However, the Refuge is an exception. They can and do ticket for alcohol there quite often.

So just be willing to accept the consequences of your actions should you be caught and cited while drinking where you shouldn't be on the river!

The bottom line is also summed up nicely by the last sentence in the NPS paragraph: Remember that alcohol affects your coordination, balance and judgement, skills that are necessary to safely float the river. Beyond the legal consequences, remember that "the water is the true judge and jury."

Be safe!
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Old 07-08-2008, 02:43 PM
 
Location: Portland, OR
39 posts, read 178,262 times
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I believe you, I read that all too, I just was sharing what we were told on our trip! Maybe we just got lucky and stayed in the sections where its not really an issue. Anyways, good luck
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Old 07-08-2008, 03:02 PM
 
Location: west Omaha
475 posts, read 1,565,273 times
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Quote:
the water is the true judge and jury
I'll have to say though... the Niobrara is about as forgiving a judge/jury as you'll find.

If something happens to you on a Niobrara tubing trip... it's a compelling case of natural selection.
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Old 07-08-2008, 07:10 PM
 
369 posts, read 775,770 times
Reputation: 163
Quote:
Originally Posted by star_gazer View Post
I'll have to say though... the Niobrara is about as forgiving a judge/jury as you'll find.

If something happens to you on a Niobrara tubing trip... it's a compelling case of natural selection.
True. In 90% of the places, if you get in to trouble there is a pretty simple life-saving maneuver: stand up! Not too many strainers and other hazards compared to some of the other rivers in Nebraska.
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