Visitors to Smith Falls State Park will enjoy many improvements to the grounds this summer, and they will soon be able to reserve a campsite to do so.

This marks the first year that Smith Falls campers are able to ensure a spot via the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s reservation system.

Amy Kucera, park superintendent, said half of the park’s 70 campsites will go live on the system at 9 a.m. CDT on May 10. She said a variety of sites will be available for reservation, including locations at the riverfront in both the east and west campgrounds. The other half are available on a first-come, first-served basis. All of the sites are categorized “basic.”

Campsites may be reserved between three and 180 days in advance by visiting, at any time. Detailed campsite information is among the features of the online system that helps visitors plan their stay.

Reservations also may be made by calling 402-471-1414 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. CDT, Monday through Friday except state holidays.

Among the park’s improvements is a new $140,000 showerhouse that was funded by the Nebraska Outdoor Recreational Development Act. In addition, the park has received three new concrete latrines and a new deck around its headquarters.

The deck, which includes a boardwalk between the park’s campground and its office, is constructed of composite material. The $60,000 project was funded by the Game and Parks Capital Maintenance Fund.

The multitudes of visitors who access the park while floating the Niobrara River will enjoy improvements for increased convenience and safety at the highly popular Smith Falls Landing and the Nickols Landing at the east side of the park. Those projects were completed under a collaboration with the National Park Service and the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa. The latter organization also has volunteered to improve the park’s Jim MacAllister Nature Trail in recent years.

Smith Falls State Park, which provides access to the park’s 63-foot waterfall via a footbridge over the Niobrara River, is located just off Highway 12 about 12 miles north-northeast of Valentine. A Nebraska Park Entry Permit is required for motorized vehicles entering the park.