- North Arkansas' Buffalo River was the country's first national river. Totaling approximately 95,700 acres, the designated area of Buffalo National River encompasses 135 miles of the 150 mile river. The river begins as a trickle in the Boston Mountains 15 miles above the park boundary. Following what is likely an ancient riverbed, the Buffalo cuts its way through massive limestone bluffs traveling east through the Ozarks and into the White River. The Buffalo National River has three designated wilderness areas within its boundaries. These include the Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area, Lower Buffalo Wilderness Area and Ponca Wilderness Area.
Copyright: National Park Service
Buffalo National River
The Buffalo National River has three visitor centers that provide information. Tyler Bend Visitor Center, the main visitor center for the park,
is located eleven miles north of Marshall, Arkansas. The other two ranger stations are as follows: Pruitt Ranger Station, located five miles north of Jasper, Arkansas, on Highway 7, and Buffalo Point Ranger Station, located 17 miles south of Yellville, Arkansas, on Highway 14.
About two dozen concessionaires rent canoes along the Buffalo and offer other related services. In addition, several rent johnboats and can provide complete fishing packages. Lodging choices will depend upon individual preferences but can range from genuine log cabins to bed and breakfast facilities to modern motel rooms. And, of course, designated campgrounds are located at frequent intervals on the river. Most all supplies can be obtained at Harrison, Marshall, Jasper, Yellville or other nearby communities.
Recreation - Excellent floating is found on seven distinct sections of the Buffalo River. Canoeing is a year-round possibility except in the upper reaches where its limited to the winter and spring months. Class I and II rapids can be expected. Camping is a year long pursuit, though visitors should remember the states lowest winter temperatures traditionally occur along this stream. The Buffalos corridor is also a great locale for hiking and backpacking, but expeditions should be scheduled outside the tick/chigger season.
To many anglers, the hordes of visitors attracted to the Buffalo destroy the peaceful, aesthetic values that are the reason for going fishing in the first place. But this spirited colt of a stream has a remarkable capacity for swallowing up people in a maze of bluffs and canyons. The Buffalo is a gem among Arkansas float fishing streams. Considered a model small mouth bass stream, the Buffalo has fast, clear, oxygen rich water with the kind of gravel bottom and boulder beds smallmouths love. Floating in a johnboat or canoe is the accepted method of fishing, but during spring, try beaching your craft at the head of a deep, swift chute and drifting a lure near a boulder in the fast water.
Climate - Arkansas has a temperate climate with the coldest temperatures near freezing during December, January and February. Daytime highs for these months usually reach 55 degrees F. Spring and fall temperatures are very mild with lows dipping to 44 degrees F and highs reaching 70 degrees F. July and August are the hottest months of the year with average temperatures reaching 90 degrees F. June and September average temperatures usually reach into the mid-eighties. Spring and winter months are the wettest of the year.
The Buffalo National River lies in northwest Arkansas. The river flows between two sections of the Ozark National Forest. The Buffalo originates in the rugged Boston Mountains division of the Ozarks near Fallsville in southwestern Newton County. The Buffalo flows in an easterly direction until it joins the White River. Along the way it descends nearly 2,000 feet through layers of sandstone, limestone, and chert.
Visitors can get to the Buffalo River via U.S. Highway 65 and a whole host of Arkansas highways 21, 74, 7, 123, 333, 14, and 268. In addition, a good many county roads provide access to points between the highway crossings.