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Kayaking on the Buffalo River

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Kayaking on the Buffalo River

Hello!

My husband and I are thinking of kayaking and camping on the Buffalo River for 2 to 3 days. We plan on going in October 2012. Any recommendations of where we should launch? We have our own kayaks and we plan to camp along the river. Since we have our own kayaks, we would need a shuttle service to pick us up after the trip. Any recommendations greatly appreciated! I reviewed nps.gov/buff and it appears that there are a few low areas on the river. Is it to low to kayak? Any suggestions on the most scenic float along the river during this time of year?

Thank you for your help!

little rock arkansas
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for Little Rock, Arkansas
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1. Re: Kayaking on the Buffalo River

This is a GREAT time of year - gorgeous leaf colors - particularly if you stick to week days there will probably be very little traffic on the river and without the summer visitors, it will feel like a pristine wilderness experience. Being experienced kayakers, you will likely cover much more of the river than we do with packed canoes, kids and swimming hole stops at every bend! Travel on the Buffalo is TOTALLY dependent on rainfall. Tonight it has been raining across Arkansas and the entire river will no doubt be accessible for the next days. In fact, it will likely rise to flood stage tonight which represents other obvious issues. Since you have plenty of time, I'd go to the library and obtain by interlibrary loan my favorite old book "Buffalo River Country" by Kenneth Smith and its companion "Buffalo River Canoeing Guide" by Margaret and Harold Hedges. A few access points have ben added but the Smith book is still a great book about one of America's most beautiful rivers. Despite your and my interest in planning trips in advance, I would not plan this trip very carefully until closer to the date so you can gauge rainfall and water level. If there are rains in September, it is conceivable that you can get a peak at almost everyone's favorite river stretch, the upper Buffalo, which is rarely navigable for most months per year. The 24 mile stretch from Ponca to Pruitt is my and most people's dream stretch and represents maybe 10 to 11 hours of canoe paddling not counting stops, hikes, swims - or the perfect two day trip. There are great hikes off this stretch as well. My other all time favorite stretch is the short afternoon paddle between Buffalo Point and Rush. and as much above Buffalo Point as time will permit. I love that stretch and it is navigable all year round. The stretch below Rush becomes pretty flat and is void of the bluffs which make the river so cool. Rush is my favorite take-out point as there are remnants of the old ghost town there - some old cabins and even zinc mine entrances if you know where to look. So my best advice is to work with both upper and lower Buffalo outfitters after mid September to try to gauge rainfall and if the upper Buffalo looks like a possibility I'd work with the upper Buffalo outfitters to plan a Ponca to Pruitt run. If not, I'd plan a take out at Rush and work with the lower Buff outfitters to plan a put-in based on your interest and skills, somewhere in the Gilbert to Maumee area. Gilbert to Rush is about 30 miles. Maumee to Rush is 19. As to which outfitters are the best, I honestly have never hit a bad one. They are all licensed by the National Park Service and hire local kids who are savvy and safe and well informed. The prices are fairly standard. I'd call around, chat with them, get a feel for one you feel good about if you want. I have used most of them through the years and never been disappointed. buffaloriverchamber.com/…axzz256jlsVoa Some may try to persuade you to paddle in the areas closest to them. The Buffalo River Outdoor Center at Ponca has given me good advice and the Dirst and Wild Bill's people have been there for years on the lower. Silver Hill has been fun to work with on the middle. If you don't listen to anything I say, please listen to this: CAMP HIGH!! the gravel bars are gorgeous and the river is innocent 99% of the time. However, it can rise as much as 30 feet overnight even if there is no visible rain and the downpour is upstream! So find the highest point on your gravel bar to camp and bring your boats and gear up to your campsite. Some people drive a stake in to gauge water level. Don't let me scare you - but always plan for a change in weather! Have a wonderful time on the Buffalo.

Edited: 31 August 2012, 09:01
United States
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2. Re: Kayaking on the Buffalo River

Thank you so much for all of your wonderful feedback ;) I will look into all of these areas! The Buffalo River sounds wonderful and I cant wait to see it. I will definitely take your advice and camp as far up as possible on the gravel bars! It makes perfect sense. ;) Thanks again for all of the tips.

Arkansas Ozarks
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3. Re: Kayaking on the Buffalo River

Do keep checking the weather. Went by the Buffalo last Friday (Dillard's Ferry area) -- Buffalo was extremely low -- not even ankle high. This area of Arkansas did not get much rain out of the remnants of Isaac yesterday or today -- just a little over an inch. Hopefully, the area will get more rainfall before your trip in October.

Edited: 31 August 2012, 23:26
little rock arkansas
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for Little Rock, Arkansas
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4. Re: Kayaking on the Buffalo River

In checking past history I guess it may be wishful thinking for an October run from Ponca but it HAS happened so keep checking. Buffalo point to Rush is a great run and always open and as much above that as you will need. Don't b discouraged!

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5. Re: Kayaking on the Buffalo River

Lol no worries we are not discouraged and up to the challenge :). What time of year is best for Ponca? Would May be a nice month? Maybe we could do one section in October and the other in May. I will definitely not plan anything yet and just keep checking water levels in October. Thanks everyone for the feedback :)

little rock arkansas
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for Little Rock, Arkansas
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6. Re: Kayaking on the Buffalo River

Mid March through Memorial Day has been my unofficial timeline for Ponca to Pruitt runs, but again, it's all about rainfall.

United States
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7. Re: Kayaking on the Buffalo River

Thank you :)

8. Re: Kayaking on the Buffalo River

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