Wild River Trips: Buffalo River

An undammed, bluff-lined trip through Arkansas' Ozarks

March through June is the perfect time to visit Arkansas’ Buffalo River, which winds its way undammed through the rocky bluffs of the Ozarks. Class III and IV rapids mark the 15 miles of the Upper Buffalo, nicknamed Hailstone River, and will take advanced kayakers through a cave-pocked landscape that’s truly wild. Keep an eye out for elk.

The lower 135 miles are administered by the National Park Service as Buffalo National River. With plenty of camping and hiking along the way—and cabins, too—there are plenty of single- and multi-day trips you can take, depending on water levels.

For a day-trip, Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca can outfit you with canoe, paddle, PFD and trash bag for $55 a person (shuttle is $30 extra). The ten-mile paddle will take you past 550-foot Big Bluff and the trailhead for Hemmed-In Hollow, a 210-foot waterfall that whips in the wind like a ribbon. Call for multi-day pricing.

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