Go With The Flow on Arkansas’ Buffalo National River

August 22nd, 2016 by Corey A. Edwards

Arkansas' Buffalo National River

Big Bluff on Arkansas’ Buffalo National River

Arkansas’ Buffalo River is so beautiful and special that Congress designated it as America’s first national river: Buffalo National River!

The Buffalo River is around 150 miles long with nearly 95,000 acres of public land to its name. The river issues from the Boston Mountains, atop the Ozark Plateau. From here, it flows east through the heart of the Ozarks until joining the White River. The Buffalo River was scheduled to be dammed prior to receiving national park status. This would have permanently destroyed much of its beauty.

Buffalo National River is known for the multi-colored, towering bluffs. The river’s flow varies from swift-running to placid with stretches of sand/gravel bars, woodlands, bluffs, and protected wilderness areas.

The park’s contains three designated wilderness areas: the Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area, the Ponca Wilderness Area, and the Lower Buffalo Wilderness Area. The Ponca Wilderness Area contains some of Arkansas’ most scenic beauty. Here you will find the towering bluffs, countless waterfalls, and wildlife.

Over 100 miles of trails exist along the river, including  horseback riding trails. Because so few roads parallel the river, boat and trail are some of the best ways to see the park.

Hunting and fishing are allowed along the public stretches of the river. Elk, white-tailed deer, smallmouth bass, trout, and other game abound. There are also ample opportunities for swimming, rafting, canoeing, and kayaking. Many local outfitters along the river offer rental gear and guided tours.

The Buffalo National River also contains a diverse range of cultural and historic sites. These include prehistoric village and shelter sites, historic farmsteads, mining sites, and Civilian Conservation Corps structures. There are few roads that parallel the river, so boating and hiking are the best ways to experience the park.

Buffalo National River sees more than 800,000 visitors a year and many consider it mid-America’s finest outdoor destination. If you go, the Tyler Bend Visitor Center, off U.S. 65 north of Marshall, is definitely worth a visit and the Ponca Elk Education Center is a must-see.

Buffalo National River

For more information on what to see and do during a visit to the Buffalo River, be sure to visit: www.nps.gov/buff/index.htm

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