Buffalo National River

Paddling in Arkansas & Missouri
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Mount Hersey to Woolum

Gauge: The Little Rock District Army Corps of Engineers maintains a daily recorded message on the water levels on the Buffalo and other rivers in Arkansas. A water level may be obtained by calling (501) 324-5150 24 hours a day.
Minimum: 2.0 feet
Optimum: 2.5-4.0 feet

Difficulties and Points of Interest: One of the more interesting aspects of this section is the trip to the put-in at Mount Hersey. The access is reached by turning south from US 65 on the gravel road two miles west of Pindall, AR. From there you are on your own because there are no signs. The best advice is to bear right at every turn until you reach the river. Good luck!

The Nars (Narrows) is approximately eight miles from Mount Hersey. This is an unusual bluff formed by Richland Creek and the Buffalo River wearing away the rock over millions of years but never quite destroying the last saddle-backed, four-foot-wide dividing bluff. A long gravel bar provides an excellent place to camp and explore the Nars. If you hike the trail that extends up the backbone of the bluff, you will be treated to spectacular views of the Buffalo River and Richland Valley.

Skull Bluff is just downstream of the Nars. This bluff has several cavities at water level that make it look like a skull. At low to moderate water levels one can paddle into the skull.

Directions: Woolum Ford is located 1.5 miles downstream of Skull Bluff and is reached via Arkansas Highway 374 from St. Joe, AR. Richland Creek enters the Buffalo at Woolum Ford.

Woolum to US 65

Gauge: The Little Rock District Army Corps of Engineers maintains a daily recorded message on the water levels on the Buffalo and other rivers in Arkansas. A water level may be obtained by calling (501) 324-5150 24 hours a day.
Minimum: 2.5 feet
Optimum: 2.54.5 feet

Points of Interest: Jim Raymond of the Bluff City Canoe Club claimed that one of the best camping spots on the Buffalo exists just downstream of the Woolum access on river left under a group of trees where the river takes a sharp bend to the left and provides a great place to body surf the rapid. He was probably right!

A take-out used by outfitters exists at Baker Creek Ford approximately 11 miles from Woolum. The National Park Service maintains an information board at the access but does not list it in any of their literature. It is a good campsite with relatively easy access from St. Joe via Arkansas Highway 374. When the road turns from gravel to blacktop after you leave US 65, go one-fourth mile and turn left on a gravel road and proceed to the river. You will pass through two cattle gates. Always close gates behind you that you found open when you approached them.

Directions: The primary take-out is at the US 65 bridge.

US 65 to Gilbert

Gauge: The Little Rock District Army Corps of Engineers maintains a daily recorded message on the water levels on the Buffalo and other rivers in Arkansas. A water level may be obtained by calling (501) 324-5150 24 hours a day.
Minimum: .9 foot
Optimum: 1.5-4.0 feet

Points of Interest: The river makes a large bend to north with some beautiful scenery.

A must stop is at Baker General Store near the take-out at Gilbert. The general store has a little of everything including some very interesting antiques. Gilbert is also famous for the coldest temperatures in the state of Arkansas during the winter. If the folks at the store have time, ask to see their photographs of the 1982 flood. You may not believe what you are looking at!

Directions: The take-out at Gilbert is reached via Arkansas Highway 333 just north of the Buffalo River on US 65.

Gilbert to Buffalo Point

Gauge: The Little Rock District Army Corps of Engineers maintains a daily recorded message on the water levels on the Buffalo and other rivers in Arkansas. A water level may be obtained by calling (501) 324-5150 24 hours a day.
Minimum: .9 foot
Optimum: 1.5-4.0 feet

Gauge: The Little Rock District Army Corps of Engineers maintains a daily recorded message on the water levels on the Buffalo and other rivers in Arkansas. A water level may be obtained by calling (501) 324-5150 24 hours a day.
Minimum: .9 foot
Optimum: 1.5-4.0 feet

Points of Interest: South Maumee access, on river right, is located 12 miles downriver from Gilbert and may be reached by taking Highway 27 north from Marshall for 3.5 miles to Morning Star. Turn left and proceed six miles to the river.

Arkansas 14 crosses the Buffalo River just above Buffalo Point and can be used as an access. This is a nice place for someone who would like to try a canoe for a short 1.5-mile float to Buffalo Point.

Directions: The take-out is reached from Yellville by going south on Arkansas Highway 14 for approximately 14 miles. Turn east on Arkansas 268 for three miles to Buffalo Point.

Buffalo Point to Rush

Gauge: The Little Rock District Army Corps of Engineers maintains a daily recorded message on the water levels on the Buffalo and other rivers in Arkansas. A water level may be obtained by calling (501) 324-5150 24 hours a day.
Minimum: .9 foot
Optimum: 1.5~.5 feet

Points of Interest: This is a long flatwater section of the river with some of the most spectacular scenery to be found along the Buffalo River.

Directions: The ghost town of Rush is reached from the Highway 14 bridge by proceeding four miles north and then five miles to the river.

Rush to Buffalo City

Gauge: The Little Rock District Army Corps of Engineers maintains a daily recorded message on the water levels on the Buffalo and other rivers in Arkansas. A water level may be obtained by calling (501) 324-5150 24 hours a day.
Minimum: .9 foot
Optimum: 1.5-4.0 feet

Gauge: The Little Rock District Army Corps of Engineers maintains a daily recorded message on the water levels on the Buffalo and other rivers in Arkansas. A water level may be obtained by calling (501) 324-5150 24 hours a day.
Minimum: .9 foot
Optimum: 1.5-4.0 feet

Points of Interest: This should be considered a two day trip because of the distance involved.

The Buffalo River flows into the White River at Buffalo City and ends its long free-flowing course. Buffalo City is on the opposite bank of the White River and the paddler must paddle upstream for a short distance to the takeout. This can be an experience when the White River is running high due to frequent generation at Bull Shoals Dam.

Directions: The take-out is reached from Mountain Home by proceeding 4 miles west on Highway 62, then 12 miles south on Arkansas Highway 126.

Camping

Lost Valley: This campground is maintained by the National Park Service and is located just west of Ponca on Arkansas Highway 74. Follow the NPS signs to the campground. Facilities include drinking water and pit toilets. There are a limited number of campsites available.

Steele Creek: The National Park Service encourages the use of this campground and has developed a large number of campsites. It is reached from Ponca by going east on Arkansas Highway 74 for approximately three miles to a wellmarked turn-off. Follow the signs to Steel Creek. Facilities include campsites, toilets, and drinking water.

Buffalo Point Campground: 14 miles south of Yellville. Facilities include rental cabins, central restrooms, cold showers, drinking water and electricity. Groceries and gas are one mile away.

The National Park Service provides campsites at convenient locations along the entire length of the river. These sites are located at Kyle's Landing, Erbie, Ozark, Hasty, Carver, Mt. Hersey, Woolum, Maumee South, Dillards Ferry, and Rush Landing. All of these sites have toilets, and some have picnic tables and water.

© Article copyright Menasha Ridge Press. All rights reserved.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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