On September 4, 1804, Lewis and Clark stood on a peninsula of land between two distinctly different rivers. On the east side ran the familiar Missouri with its crumbling banks and muddy water. On the west side ran a river of roughly the same size, but spewing sand, not mud. This was the "Qui coursse," as Clark spelled the French name, or "Niobrara" as the natives called it, and it was a major landmark for the travelers. The expedition set up camp, hunted, and fished while Clark explored this new river.
Today's adventurer can follow suit, camping and fishing in Niobrara State Park at the junction of these two rivers. One of the nicest parks on the Missouri, it offers trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding along the rivers and into the hills. The park also has three Missouri River boat accesses and several campgrounds.
For the traveler looking for a taste of river-bottom unchanged since Lewis and Clark's time, the Niobrara provides just that. In 1804, Clark described a beautiful plain with abundant wildlife and a river defined by sandbars, islands and eroding banks. This same landscape greets visitors today, from the churning current to the groves of cedar near the river's mouth. These trees' ancestors supplied new masts for the expedition.
The catfish, white bass, and northern pike common to the Corps' diet still thrive here, as do the sauger, walleye, and crappie.