Named by National Geographic as one of the Top 10 Underappreciated Parks, the Buffalo National River is one of the few remaining unpolluted, free-flowing rivers in the lower 48 states offering both swift-running and placid stretches. The Buffalo National River encompasses 135 miles of the 150-mile long river. It begins as a trickle in the Boston Mountains 15 miles above the park boundary. Following what is likely an ancient riverbed, the Buffalo National River cuts its way through massive limestone bluffs traveling eastward through the Ozarks and into the White River. The Buffalo National River has three designated wilderness areas within its boundaries.
Headquarters for the Buffalo National River are located in Harrison, Arkansas, providing administrative services to the national river. The Tyler Bend Visitor Center, the main visitor center for the park, is located 18 miles south of Harrison, Arkansas. The park has two other visitor contact stations; the Pruitt Ranger Station, located ten miles south of Harrison, Arkansas on Highway 7, and Buffalo Point Ranger Station, located 17 miles south of Yellville, Arkansas, on Highway 14.
Driving the roads of the Buffalo National River
You are invited to explore the Buffalo National River area by traveling the winding roads past beautiful scenery, historic locations, small shops, restaurants, and other hidden treasures of the Ozarks. Although the roads do not follow alongside the river itself, there is still much to appreciate.
As you enter, leave, and enter again the boundaries of the National River, you will see the connection between the river and the surrounding highlands; between the towering bluffs and deep "hollers;" and between the people who call this home and the special place set aside in their midst. Visit the Auto Tours page for more information.
Hiking the Trails of the Buffalo National River
Ever thought of backpacking? The Buffalo National River is the perfect location! Explore the Buffalo National River in the same way the first Americans traveled - by foot. With over 100 miles of trails in the Buffalo National River, day hikers and backpackers alike can "discover" hidden waterfalls, breath-taking overlooks, or historical home sites.
Leave no trace of your stay - pack out whatever you pack in. Visit our Ozark Mountain hiking trails to find out more information. There are over 100 miles of maintained trails within the park. Depending upon location, construction, and designation, these trails are open to hikers and/or horseback riders.
Bicycles and pets are not permitted on any park trails. Some trails require river crossings, which may be impassable during high water. Stay on designated trails. Do not shortcut trails or switchbacks. This not only adds unnecessary impact, but it increases erosion.
For your safety, if you are hiking on a trail and meet up with horseback riders stand to the side of the trail and allow the horseback riders to pass. It is best to make your presence known with a friendly "hello" well before the horse is nearby. This lets the horse know of your presence and prevents it from becoming startled.
The very best way to see the Buffalo National River is by canoeing and/or kayaking. You may bring your own canoe, kayak, raft, or john boat; or you can rent one from local authorized Concessionaires - no permit is required.
Motors must be less than 10 horsepower and properly registered in the state of Arkansas. Life jackets are required in all boats, and must be worn by children 12 and younger. No glass containers are permitted within 50 feet of the river or its tributaries.
Floating the Buffalo National River can be a wonderful experience, and you can keep it that way by following a few precautions. Always check river conditions before you float. River levels are posted at the access areas and can also be found on the internet or by calling any ranger station or visitor center.
The river in any area is rated in the following manner:
- Very Low - The river is dry in places
- Low But Floatable - The river moves slowly and many rocks are exposed
- Ample Water For Floating - The river moves at an average of two miles per hour, allowing canoes to float over most rocks
- Experienced Floaters Only - The river flows swiftly. Compromising situations may occur. Canoeing experience on swift moving rivers is necessary. All canoeists must possess good river canoeing skills and must be familiar with rescue procedures
- Flood Stage, River Closed - The river flows outside its normal banks. Flood waters move quickly and carry debris. River conditions are hazardous even for highly skilled canoeists.
Thirteen designated campgrounds are accessible by car and are open on a first-come, first-served basis except that Buffalo Point Campground offers some campsites by reservation through http://www.recreation.gov or calling 1-877-444-6777.
Tyler Bend and Buffalo Point offer restrooms, showers, and trailer dump stations; camping fees are charged at both locations from April through October. Buffalo Point has water and electrical hookups. Buffalo Point Campground fills most weekend evenings from Memorial Day to mid-August.
The steep roads to Steel Creek and Kyles Landing and winding roads to Mt. Hersey are not recommended for large trailers, buses, or motorhomes.
For details about each camping area visit:
The Buffalo National River is a favorite with anglers. Long pools and shallow riffles provide excellent opportunities for fishing. The Buffalo National River and its tributaries comprise one of the Nation's richest areas in total number of fish species.
Game fish of choice are the smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass, catfish, Ozark bass, and a variety of panfish. Favored traditional methods of fishing are bank fishing and float fishing in flat-bottomed johnboats. Float fishing is most common on the lower (eastern) half of the river. The upper areas are fished by canoe or bank fishing.
State and National Park Service regulations govern fishing. An Arkansas fishing license is required. Catch and release of smallmouth bass is encouraged (with artificial lures, barbless hooks, and careful handling). Smallmouth bass kept must be at least 14 inches in length with a limit of two per day.