Paddleboarding with Nature: Discovering Nebraska's Wilderness Wonders!

Nestled amidst the vast plains of the Midwest, Nebraska might not be the first destination that comes to mind when seeking wildlife encounters. However, this hidden gem offers a plethora of opportunities for paddleboarders to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature and witness an array of fascinating creatures. From tranquil lakes to meandering rivers, each location offers a unique ecosystem with diverse wildlife. In this guide, we present 18 breathtaking paddle boarding spots in Nebraska where you can witness remarkable animals on shore, in the water, and soaring through the skies.

paddle boards in nebraska
  1. Platte River - Kearney:

    The Platte River, flowing through Kearney, Nebraska, is a true wildlife spectacle, drawing paddleboarders seeking a memorable experience. During spring, it serves as a vital stopover for migratory birds, such as Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese. As you glide along the river, the haunting calls of the cranes fill the air, and the sight of thousands of birds taking flight is a sight to behold. The serene beauty of the Platte River, combined with the vibrant colors of the migrating birds, creates a picturesque landscape that etches itself into your memory forever.

  2. Niobrara River - Valentine:

    The Niobrara River in Valentine is a picturesque paradise, surrounded by towering bluffs and lush forests. As you navigate the clear waters, keep an eye out for river otters playfully darting around. Additionally, white-tailed deer often visit the riverbanks to quench their thirst, providing an excellent opportunity for wildlife photography. Paddleboarding along the tranquil Niobrara River offers an intimate connection with nature, where the gentle flow of the water and the playful antics of the otters transport you to a realm of pure serenity.

  3. Calamus Reservoir State Recreation Area - Burwell:

    Located in Burwell, the Calamus Reservoir offers a serene paddleboarding experience with stunning wildlife encounters. Watch the sky for graceful Bald Eagles soaring above, while painted turtles sunbathe on logs near the shore. In the evening, bats emerge, creating a captivating display of aerobatics. The Calamus Reservoir is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, offering an opportunity to witness the majestic Bald Eagles, symbolizing strength and freedom, as they gracefully glide overhead.

  4. Lake McConaughy - Ogallala:

    Lake McConaughy is Nebraska's largest reservoir, offering ample opportunities for paddleboarding and wildlife viewing. In the summer, the lake becomes a hub for water birds like pelicans and cormorants, while on the shore, you might spot mule deer grazing. Keep your eyes peeled for the elusive bobcats prowling the area. As you paddle on the vast expanse of Lake McConaughy, you'll witness a dynamic tapestry of life, with the sights and sounds of diverse bird species, the gentle ripples of the water, and the occasional glimpse of deer exploring the shoreline.

  5. Lewis and Clark Lake - Crofton:

    Lewis and Clark Lake, near Crofton, provide a tranquil setting for paddleboarding amid lush woodlands. The lake is abundant with catfish and largemouth bass, making it a delight for anglers. You might also glimpse red foxes darting through the trees as they hunt for small mammals. Paddleboarding on Lewis and Clark Lake offers a serene escape, where you can become one with nature as you spot the red foxes, exemplifying the cunning and adaptability of the wild.

  6. Victoria Springs State Recreation Area - Anselmo:

    At Victoria Springs State Recreation Area, you can paddle along the Dismal River, surrounded by vibrant wildflowers and diverse wildlife. Beavers are common here, and their lodges can be seen along the riverbanks. In addition, the elusive bobcat and white-tailed deer are frequent visitors to this secluded oasis. Embark on a paddleboarding journey at Victoria Springs, where the enchanting presence of beavers constructing their lodges and the elusive bobcat's occasional glimpse reminds you of nature's harmony and balance.

  7. Lake Minatare - Scottsbluff:

    Lake Minatare, located near Scottsbluff, boasts a captivating landscape, with unique rock formations rising from the water. While paddleboarding, be on the lookout for migratory birds like American Avocets and Marbled Godwits during their spring and fall journeys. As you glide along Lake Minatare's shimmering waters, the striking sight of migratory birds gracing the lake's surface is a mesmerizing display of nature's rhythms.

  8. Rock Creek Lake State Recreation Area - Parks:

    Rock Creek Lake is a hidden gem nestled within the Sandhills, offering a pristine paddleboarding experience. The lake is teeming with bluegill and largemouth bass, attracting magnificent Great Blue Herons that gracefully wade through the shallows. Paddleboarding on Rock Creek Lake takes you into the heart of nature, where the serene water allows you to witness the elegant dance of the Great Blue Herons as they delicately navigate the shoreline.

  9. Merritt Reservoir - Valentine:

    Merritt Reservoir, near Valentine, is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and diverse fish population. Paddleboarders have a chance to spot the majestic Western Grebe and colorful Wood Ducks gliding across the surface. Merritt Reservoir's sparkling waters and diverse bird species offer a tranquil ambiance that uplifts your spirits and inspires a deeper connection with the natural world.

  10. Wehrspann Lake - Omaha:

    Wehrspann Lake in Omaha provides a serene urban escape with abundant wildlife. Keep an eye on the shore for playful raccoons, while ospreys soar overhead, searching for fish to snatch from the water. Paddleboarding at Wehrspann Lake allows you to witness the seamless coexistence of urban life and nature, as the raccoons play amidst the city's backdrop while the ospreys epitomize the resilience of wildlife amidst human settlements.

  11. Swanson Reservoir State Recreation Area - Trenton:

    Paddleboarding at Swanson Reservoir in Trenton offers a blend of adventure and wildlife exploration. The reservoir attracts a variety of birds, including American White Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants. Swanson Reservoir's expanse invites you to embark on a journey of discovery, where the elegant flight of pelicans and cormorants highlights the harmony between land, water, and sky.

  12. Red Willow Reservoir State Recreation Area - McCook:

    Red Willow Reservoir in McCook offers a picturesque setting surrounded by cottonwood trees. As you paddle through its peaceful waters, you might spot white-tailed deer cautiously approaching the shoreline to drink. Paddleboarding on Red Willow Reservoir envelops you in a serene atmosphere, where the gentle rustling of cottonwood leaves harmonizes with the graceful movements of the white-tailed deer.

  1. Lake Ogallala - Ogallala:

    Lake Ogallala, formed by the Kingsley Dam, provides a tranquil environment for paddleboarders. Watch for burrowing owls and their intricate underground homes near the shore, and don't forget to look up to catch sight of soaring Turkey Vultures. Lake Ogallala offers a unique paddleboarding experience where you become an observer of nature's engineering wonders. As you glide along the calm waters, the industrious burrowing owls' homes and the majestic flight of Turkey Vultures create a beautiful juxtaposition of life in the sky and on the ground.

  2. Lake Wanahoo State Recreation Area - Wahoo:

    Lake Wanahoo is a serene retreat in Wahoo, Nebraska, surrounded by grasslands and woodlands. While paddling, be on the lookout for coyotes trotting along the shore and an array of waterfowl, including Gadwalls and Northern Pintails. Lake Wanahoo beckons paddleboarders with its tranquility and diverse wildlife. The distant call of waterfowl and the occasional sighting of the cunning coyotes add to the lake's allure, making each paddleboarding trip a memorable adventure.

  3. Sherman Reservoir State Recreation Area - Loup City:

    Sherman Reservoir, located near Loup City, offers a peaceful paddleboarding experience with the chance to encounter white-tailed deer and the elusive coyote roaming the surrounding grasslands. Sherman Reservoir is a picturesque escape where you can observe the elegant movements of white-tailed deer and admire the coyote's adaptability in the vast grassy plains, revealing the untamed spirit of the region.

  4. Enders Reservoir State Recreation Area - Enders:

    Enders Reservoir is a picturesque location in Enders, Nebraska, ideal for wildlife enthusiasts. During the spring and fall, the lake becomes a popular rest stop for migratory birds such as Wilson's Phalaropes and American Avocets. Paddleboarding on Enders Reservoir immerses you in the grand spectacle of bird migration, where you witness the vibrant colors of migratory birds gracing the waters, as they continue their timeless journey across the continent.

  5. Johnson Lake State Recreation Area - Lexington:

    Paddleboarding at Johnson Lake in Lexington offers a unique experience, with the chance to witness black-tailed prairie dogs bustling around their burrows on the shore. Keep an eye out for soaring Red-tailed Hawks scanning for prey. Johnson Lake presents an immersive experience where you become a part of the prairie ecosystem, observing the lively prairie dogs' activities and the Red-tailed Hawks' keen hunting skills.

  6. Lake North - McCook:

    Lake North is a hidden gem in McCook, attracting paddleboarders with its tranquil setting and diverse wildlife. Along the shores, you may come across the agile American mink, searching for food among the rocks. Paddleboarding on Lake North offers a chance to encounter the elusive American mink, adding an air of mystery and excitement to your serene aquatic journey.

  7. Branched Oak State Recreation Area - Raymond:

    Branched Oak Lake, located near Raymond, is the perfect place for a serene paddleboarding excursion. Look out for playful raccoons near the water's edge and soaring Red-winged Blackbirds perched on the cattails. Paddleboarding at Branched Oak Lake is a nature lover's dream, where the adorable raccoons and the striking sight of Red-winged Blackbirds amidst the cattails remind you of the abundance of life nature offers.


Nebraska may not be on every wildlife enthusiast's radar, but this captivating state offers an abundance of wildlife viewing opportunities from a paddleboard. As you embark on these paddleboarding adventures, you'll encounter a myriad of creatures on shore, in the water, and soaring through the air. From migratory birds to elusive mammals, each location has its unique charm and beauty. So, grab your paddleboard, immerse yourself in nature, and let Nebraska's wild side unfold before your eyes, creating memories to last a lifetime.

Tips, Tricks, and Fun Articles await.

Here are a few quick links to help you keep going, don't forget to check our blog out for more tips and expert advice. For wildlife tips check out our blog and this article on Beginners Guide To Bird Watching. And don't forget to read our article on Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Wildlife Encounters. For a complete guide of where to paddle board in every state, this one is for you! The best places to paddle board in the United States a state by state tour of where to paddle board with Glide Paddle Boards.

Or perhaps something international is what you are looking for, then these two articles will help out. Check out the ultimate guide on finding places to paddle board near you for tips and tricks on finding new and exciting places near you! And for international spots Epic Spots Globally To Paddle Board is for you! And check out the Glide O2 Angler and why it makes an incredible platform for birding and wildlife viewing.