In the Wild with Greg Wagner


Canoe the Quiet Calamus by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
July 27, 2009, 8:31 am
Filed under: Canoeing, Rivers | Tags: , ,

Canoers on the Calamus River. © NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Canoers on the Calamus River. © NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

While thousands of you enjoy floating down the scenic Niobrara River east of Valentine, NE in canoes, kayaks and inner tubes this time of year, you need to know that there are other rivers – what I call the quiet rivers – that should be explored here in the Husker State as well! One particular river on that list is the Calamus River running from the Highway 7 Bridge south of Ainsworth to the Calamus Reservoir State Recreation Area near Burwell.      

The Calamus River is a gently flowing, extremely meandering, Class I river that carved its path through the beautiful dunes of the Nebraska Sandhills many, many years ago. It is rich in Native American history.   

 Ideal for families and novices to canoe, the Calamus River receives it water from the Ogallala Aquifer via groundwater, artesian wells and seep springs. The aquifer provides the river with cool water, a relatively constant level and an easy-to-read, not-too-deep channel. You just have to be vigilant for those cattle fences and low bridges that stretch across the river in places. A few sets of culverts also present some challenges.  

 With regard to flora, I don’t think I’ve seen more wildflowers in such abundance than along the banks of the Calamus River in late summer. Additionally, each time I’ve traversed it by canoe, I’ve always seen my share of muskrats, beaver, shorebirds, waterfowl and turtles, most notably by the marshy oxbows. I’ve also caught skillet-sized channel catfish using nightcrawlers and red worms in the somewhat deeper holes of the river.    

 Easily combined with a swimming/fishing/camping venture to the Calamus Reservoir State Recreation Area, a visit to Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park and the Calamus Fish Hatchery, and pit stops in the nice town of Burwell to buy forgotten supplies, grab a bite to eat or reserve a motel room, you will not regret planning a multi-day trip to the area.

 So, why not canoe the quiet Calamus? Outfitters are standing by!

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