Flowing through the Ozarks of northwest Arkansas, with lands of Ozark National Forest at either end, the 148-mile Buffalo was designated America’s first National
River in 1972. Substantial lands are protected in addition to the river itself.
There are sandstone and limestone bluffs up to 500 feet high along the river, other rock formations and caves, many creeks and waterfalls, and oak-hickory forests with willow and cottonwood. Bear, deer, mountain lion, and armadillo are among the wildlife.
Along the National River are three designated wilderness areas: the 22,500-acre Lower Buffalo Wilderness, the 11,300-acre Ponca Wilderness, and the 2,200-acre Upper Buffalo Wilderness.
Activities: Canoeing is very popular on 120 miles of the river, and rafting is also available. Upper sections include whitewater, while lower stretches of the river are mostly calm. Canoes may be rented nearby.
I A system of trails for hiking and backpacking is in the process of being developed. Most notable of the trails is the partially completed Buffalo River Hiking Trail, which will eventually extend the length of the river.
There are also some horse trails. Other possible activities include caving and climbing, although the latter is hazardous here on bluffs along the river because of unstable rock. Fishing is also available, and hunting is permitted in season.
Camping Regulations: Camping is allowed almost anywhere along the river, except near developed areas or where otherwise prohibited. No permits are necessary. Those camping by the river are advised to be well above the waterline in case the river rises. No bottles, jars or other glass containers are not allowed. Campfires are permitted, but stoves are recommended for cooking. Pets are prohibited.
For Further Information: Buffalo National River, P.O. Box 1173, Harrison, AR 72602; (501)741-5443.