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Buffalo National River in Arkansas

Trip Overview

Thurs. March 29:
Put in at Steel Creek near Ponca, AR. Temperatures were in the mid 70 degree range with sunny skies. Water level low. Paddled 3 miles from Steel Creek to Horshoe Bend. Paddled deep pools, drug canoes through riffles at every bend. It seemed that we drug more than we paddled. The water in the river was very clear and cold. The deep pools ranged from four feet deep to over ten feet deep. We saw many turtles basking on rocks and small fish in pools. The scenery was amazing - towering bluffs with trees leafing out. Redbud trees and Flowering Dogwoods both were in bloom. We pitched camp on sandbar across from a small bluff. A horse/hiking trail crossed river just below camp. After camp was set up we made a quick jump into the river. Water was too cold for swimming but soothing.

Fri. March 30:
Spent day fishing and hiking. Hiked to 200 foot waterfall at Hemmed in Hollow. Spectacular. Back at camp one of our party caught Sunfish, Small Mouth Bass, and Goggle Eye. In late afternoon hiked to 500 foot tall Big Bluff overlooking river. On way there visited homestead. Saw groups of hikers and equestrians but nobody else on water.

Sat. March 31:
Back on water mid-morning. River seemed to be deeper with much less dragging. Passed an old cabin site on 30 foot bluff directly above river. Foundation and chimney still in place. Bluff above large deep pool in river. Saw two parties of canoeist in afternoon. One had traveled upstream from Kyles Landing. Arrived at Kyles Landing in early afternoon. Nice campground. In total we traveled 8 miles in about seven hours. Exhausting trip due to low water levels and amount of dragging involved. An outfitter had told our party that the river was too low and recommended putting in down stream. The trip would have been more manegable using solo canoes or kayaks.


We camped on the river.
Put in and take out were at park campgrounds.
Kyles Landing had camping spots with running water and toilets.


1 aluminum canoe (17')
1 fiberglass canoe (16')


Arkansas fishing license


Ponca, AR is 20 miles west of Jasper and SR 7 on SR 74 in NW Arkansas.
  • Duration: 2-3 Day Trip
  • Skill Level: Advanced
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip