Niobrara National Scenic River World’s Second “Quiet Trail”


   Not many people know it, but the Niobrara National Scenic River is the first place in the United States to be designated as a “Quiet Trail” by the non-profit QPI – Quiet Parks International.

      In fact, it was just the second in the world behind one in Taiwan when it received the designation last October after a 2-year testing process by QPI that included having a team paddle the full length of the area to collect qualitative acoustic data. 

     QPI co-founder Gordon Hempton says the testing process is very exact.and requires not only meeting acoustic standards, but also that each team member agree unanimously and unhesitatingly, that natural quiet prevailed the entire time.

        Hempton says “the Niobrara River’s splendid geologic landscape, unusual atmospheric conditions, and outstanding wildlife all contributed towards a positive outcome.”

      Niobrara National Scenic River Superintendent Susan Cook spearheaded the drive for the designation of an area renowned for its beauty, ecological importance, and recreational appeal as six major ecosystems converge, resulting in a special mix of about 160 plant and animal species. 

     Cook says studies show 97% of the U-S population faces noise pollution from sources such as aviation and highways, so she’s thrilled to have the Niobrara National Scenic River recognized as a place to experience the pure sounds of nature.

     Cherry County Tourism Director Regina Osburn says the designation will be used as a marketing tool to draw in more visitors to north-central Nebraska.

      Nebraska Tourism Commission executive director John Ricks says it’s another example of the state’s unique one-of-a-kind opportunities for the curious and adventurous visitor.”

     Superintendent Cook hopes the designation does bring in more people because “Nature will heal us mind, body and soul. If you’re struggling with something, just go sit by a river, and watch it flow by you. All of a sudden your troubles don’t seem so big.”