The Elkhorn River is a wide, smooth flowing Nebraska river with a deep, narrow channel that is perfect
for tubing on the river. It originates in the eastern Sandhills of Nebraska and is one of the
largest tributaries of the Platte River, joining the Platte just southwest of Omaha, approximately
1 mile south and 3 miles west of Gretna. The Elkhorn River basin encompasses
approximately 7,000 square miles. The Elkhorn also has several tributaries, including its own North and
South forks, Logan Creek, Rock Creek and Maple Creek. Because the Elkhorn is a meandering river
and the channel's position can change from year to year. The scenery on the Elkhorn River is
changeable and diverse. Along the river corridor you will tube through hilly landforms having
moderate to steep slopes and rounded ridge crests composed of glacial till mantled with loess.
Along the river there are open woodlands and dense forested areas interspersed with farmland
in the cleared lowlands. Cottonwood and willow trees dominate the woodlands and to a lesser
degree elms, box elder, green ash and hackberry are found. Shrubs include black currant,
false indigo, red osier, rough-leaved dogwoods and others. There are plenty of opportunities
for native Nebraska wildlife observation thanks to the abundant fauna found here,
which includes deer, squirrels, raccoon, opossum, fox, coyote, shorebirds, eagles and hawks.
Aquatic life includes turtles, carp and catfish in the river. Tubers can expect to see all
manner of materials utilized to shore up this Nebraska river's banks, including junked automobile
bodies. You will encounter mud bars, sand bars, and submerged logs.
Tubers should take note that the Elkhorn's water levels will be lower after mid-June through to
September because of high temperatures, low rainfall, and crop irrigation, among other factors.
Lower water levels could extend trip times by one-half or even more, so tubers are advised to budget
their time accordingly. Normally, the greatest flow occurs from March through early June. However,
there is often enough water for tubing in September and October. Tubing in July and August are
typically restricted to the deeper channel of the river. Spring rains can produce destructive
flooding. Flood damage is higher along the Elkhorn than any other river basin in Nebraska.