Canoeing the Niobrara and exploring its diverse flora, fauna, and waterfalls are the leading recreational activities on the Scenic River. Boaters can paddle through the Fort Niobrara Wilderness where rugged hills of ponderosa pine and interspersed prairie lie on its north banks, and forests of white-barked paper birch and linden grow on southern slopes. Bison and elk can be viewed on a self-guided driving tour in the central portion of the refuge. The hike to Fort Falls is refreshing.
The canoeable reach also passes through the Niobrara Valley Preserve, owned and operated by The Nature Conservancy and showcasing prairieland and bison management. Camping, hiking, and sightseeing are popular at Smith Falls State Park.