The 10 Longest Rivers in Nebraska

Bridge connecting Decatur, Nebraska to Onawa, Iowa over the Missouri River.
Bridge connecting Decatur, Nebraska to Onawa, Iowa over the Missouri River.

Nebraska lies in both the Midwestern United States and the Great Plains. Nebraska is bordered by Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Colorado. There are three rivers which cross Nebraska from the east to the west: the Republican River flows through southern Nebraska, River Niobrara passes through the northern region, while Platte River flows through the central part of the state.

Longest Rivers In Nebraska

1) Missouri River

Missouri River is the longest North American river, and when merged with Lower Missouri River it becomes the fourth longest river in the world. The river originates from the Rocky Mountains in Montana and empties into River Mississippi in St Louis. Missouri River drains from semi-arid, sparsely populated watershed of about 501,933 sq miles. Its drainage includes two Canadian provinces and ten American States. The locals depended on the 2,340 miles long river and its branches over 12,000 years ago for transportation and sustenance. It was one of the principal routes for the western expansion of the country during the nineteenth century. In Nebraska, the Missouri River acts as the border between the state and the neighboring states of South Dakota, Iowa, and Missouri.

2) North Platte River

The 716 miles long river is the northern branch of Platte River. The North Platte river flows for over 550 miles in a straight line through Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado. The river originates from Jackson County and then flows to Casper, Wyoming before flowing for over 350 miles into North Platte city. It then merges with South Plate River in Nebraska creating the Platte River which empties into Missouri River.

3) White River

The 580 miles long White River is one of Missouri River’s tributaries which flow through South Dakota and Nebraska. Its name stems from the fact that its water is white-grey. The white-grey color is due to the presence of volcanic ash, clay, and eroded sand in the river. The river drains a total area of about 10,200 sq miles. It rises in the Pine Ridges escarpment in northwestern Nebraska and flows past the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation before merging with the Wounded Knee Creek. It merges with the Little White River on the southern parts of Murdo before joining Lake Francis in Missouri.

4) Niobrara River

The 568 miles long Niobrara River is one of Missouri river’s branches which flow through Nebraska and Wyoming. Niobrara River has a low-flow for such a long river which drains the driest part of the Great Plains. Its watershed includes a small region of Wyoming, South Dakota, and the northern parts of Nebraska. It originates from the High Plains of Wyoming in the county of Niobrara. The river drains an area of about 11,580 sq miles.

5) Republican River

The 453 miles long Republican River is in the Great Plains in the Northern parts of the United States. It originates from the High Plains, Colorado and stretches through Kansas and Nebraska. Republican River has three tributaries which rise from the High Plains. The Republican River merges with River Smoky Hill in Junction City to create Kansas River.

Other Rivers In Nebraska

The top ten longest rivers in Nebraska are all over 278 miles long with Lodgepole Lake ranking tenth. The 290 miles long Elkhorn River is the most extended branch of Platte River. Platte River is a critical river in Nebraska which empties into Missouri River. The Big Blue River is the seventh longest river in Nebraska, and it originates from central Nebraska and merges with Kansas River in Manhattan. The 439 miles long South Platte River is one of the main branches of Platte River.

The 10 Longest Rivers in Nebraska

RankRiverLength (miles)Length (km)
1Missouri River 2,3403,770
2North Platte River7161,152
3White River580930
4Niobrara River568914
5Republican River453729
6South Platte River439707
7Big Blue River359578
8Platte River310500
9Elkhorn River 290470
10Lodgepole Lake278447

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