In the Wild with Greg Wagner

BIG RAFTS, RAPIDS & THE PRETTY RIVER by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
October 5, 2009, 11:25 am
Filed under: Rafting, Rivers | Tags: , , , ,


The Wagner family can’t wait to try it! IT is the newest, coolest adventure on north-central Nebraska’s pristine Niobrara River with several of its Class I, II, III and possibly IV rapids –  a fun raft trip!

 My friends Doug and Twyla Graham of  Graham Canoe Outfitters (GCO) based out of Valentine, NE, now have available not one, but two, 16-foot Aire-brand whitewater-type rafts (similar to those used on rivers in Colorado) for year-round, guided, reasonably priced, float trips for folks of nearly all ages on the canoe stretches of the Niobrara River east of Valentine. Yes, I said YEAR-ROUND float trips, no faux pas there!


 Virtually impossible to tip or flip on the Niobrara, the rafts have the capacity to hold 8-10 people who are welcome to paddle if they so choose or to just ride along if they want. Graham Canoe Outfitters provides all of the required boating equipment including Coast-Guard approved life jackets, plus transportation. Lunches can be furnished by GCO if pre-arranged. The rafts have been okayed for use by the governing entities of the scenic river.

 Doug Graham says that there is no better way to experience the genuine beauty of the Niobrara River in fall or winter up close and personal, than by taking a trip with family or friends on one of these rafts that go quietly and have little, if any impact on the unique, diverse environment of the Niobrara River valley. “Whether it’s seeing leaf color and deer now in fall or the renowned ice cliffs and bald eagles in winter, the rafts bring an eco-friendly, added float trip excursion opportunity to the outdoor scene in Nebraska,” Graham emphasizes. “The exciting part of these trips though,” he says, “is that we take the rafts right through Rocky Ford, Eglehoffs Narrows and the other rapids on the river, it’s a quick rush, but everybody loves shooting the rapids!”


 To get more information about the raft trips on the Niobrara River, call Doug or Twyla Graham toll-free, at: 1-800-322-3708 or drop them an e-mail message, at:   Doug and Twyla hope to update their website ( with details on the raft trips soon. Special thanks to the Grahams for the outstanding photos you are looking at that were taken recently on the river. 

By the way, Backpacker Magazine rates the Niobrara River as one of the top ten canoeing rivers in the nation, now I’ve got to get the staff of that magazine back here to Nebraska for raft trip on the river with my family, IN JANUARY, WOO-HOO!



2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hi Greg,
For those people who cannot get themselves down the river because of their age, either too young or too old, or maybe they just dont wanna paddle, this is the way! You will stay dry and so will your personal belongings that you take along. If you don’t have a dry bag for your gear, we do! These rafts work great for photo shoots. We’ve taken people down using video cameras and regular cameras and with the stability of these rafts, focusing and holding the camera still is not a problem. For wildlife viewing you can’t beat it. Everyone is in the same vessel so you don’t have to talk loud and everyone has the same phot op as opposed to having multiple vessels where you might be the first in the group or the last and not getting any photo op’s.
Ya Greg, for most people, the tip and flip will not be a problem. But if you do get up in this neck of the woods when the ice has formed on the cliffs we may just have to strap you in….! They say it’s so easy a caveman can do it, I MEAN IT’S SO EASY EVEN GREG CAN DO IT! See you in January!
I almost forgot; Not including the western states, the Niobrara River is the only river in a 4 state region in the midwest where you can find class II and class III rapids.
I was also reading the comments on the leaf change in Nebraska. The one lady said that Nebraska cannot compare to Pennsylvania. I would have to agree with you and Daryl. Nebraska has a different sort of leaf change that you have to be in the middle of to understand and realize what type of plants (grasses, trees, etc.) are changing colors. They may have the canopy leaf change but we have the variety by a mile…!

Comment by Doug Graham

Hey Buddy,

Well put on all fronts, my friend! Looking forward to seeing you in January. Yes, I hope you have a safety strap and a BIG life jacket for me on that raft ride brother, ha! I’m gonna make Daryl Bauer join us, too! He can fish like a champion, but can he paddle like one?

Seriously, in my well-traveled opinion, the Niobrara River east of Valentine from the Cornell Bridge to the Norden Bridge is one of the most beautiful areas in the world! I want to strongly encourage folks to experience it, especially in one of your rafts!

Take care and happy rafting! See you when there is lots of snow on the pumpkin!

“Wags” — Greg Wagner

Comment by Daryl Bauer

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