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Buffalo National River in Arkansas - Extended Trip Report

Trip Overview

Monday morning Chuck R. picked me up and we headed for Arkansas. Monday evening we stayed at a motel in Jasper, AL. Tuesday we met up with John E. from Atlanta at Buffalo City on the White River. As it was early afternoon we decided to do the shuttle up to Steel Creek and get an early start on our paddling. We camped at the Forest Service campground at Steel Creek. Wednesday morning we were on the river. For the next eight days we paddled, floated and camped on the river and adjacent gravel bars.

This is the third year I have paddle on the Buffalo and the first paddling the complete river. The weekend prior to our trip they had heavy rainfall and the river was up to 27 feet. Flood stage starts around 6.5 feet. As I monitored the rise and fall of the water level it turned out to be ideal for experienced paddlers when we started. As we paddled down the river it was amazing to see the force of nature. As the water level moved down river it had such force that trees bigger around then a basketball were snapped off 15-20 feet above ground level. The force of the water bent all the trees down. I checked the elevation at the putin and takeout and there is about a 600-foot drop over the 123 miles. Sometimes the river would have a steep decline for 1/4 mile and sometimes we would be paddling on flat water. There were only four areas where we encountered standing waves and only one were we got some water in our boats. The largest rapid is 1/2 mile after the Rush putin. We got out of our boats and scouted it. As soon as I saw it I looked for a way to line our boats through, as it was not runable in a flat-water canoe. We were able to walk our boats through on the far-left side of the river. It rained several days while we were paddling but it was warm enough that this did not cause a problem. The evenings were in the 50s and days in 70s. The scenery is the most magnificent of any river I have paddled, much of the river has bluffs on one side of the river that often exceed 400 feet. There are little wild life sightings. We did see one deer, usual water birds and much evidence of beaver. Another treat for me was that this was the first time I did not drive and was able to view the landscape, as we were shuttling boats and ourselves, I was amazed at the beauty of the Ozarks. We ate at my two must stops restaurants; one is at the historic town of Gilbert, the second is at the Front Porch in Yellville. We finished our trip prior to noon on the Tuesday and drove back to Steel Creek to drop off John then Chuck and I started for home.

  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip