A Weekend Guide to the Upper Buffalo River Area in Arkansas

Arkansas, United States


Jon King

The Upper Buffalo River area in northwest Arkansas is truly and adventurer's playground. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy its diversity and and beauty in any season. For the weekend warriors out there, here's a kick-start to your next Arkansas adventure.

Pitch a Tent

While there are several camping options in the Upper Buffalo River area, Steel Creek Campground arguably gives you the biggest bang for your buck. Steel Creek hugs the Buffalo National River and boasts massive views of Roark Bluff. It’s the most central campground to the Buffalo’s most popular hikes, has a designated boat launch and is just a short drive from the town of Ponca. If you only have a limited time in the area, this is the place to camp. Note: camping is first-come-first-served and is known to fill up fast in the summer and fall.

Take a Hike

The Upper Buffalo River area offers some of the most diverse hiking in the region. Looking for waterfalls? Caves? Sweeping views of the Ozark Mountains? It’s all here. Hawksbill Crag, Lost Valley, Hemmed-In-Hollow Falls, The Buffalo River Trail and Big Bluff are a just a few of the countless incredible hikes in the area. Pick a couple and hit the trail!

Paddle the Buffalo

If you’re staying near the Buffalo, you have to take advantage of America’s first designated national river. The Buffalo River cuts through some of the Ozark’s finest scenery. For a perfect day trip, drop in at Steel Creek and float 8 miles to Kyle’s Landing. Make sure to plan ahead and arrange a shuttle to get back to base. If you don’t bring your own, kayaks/canoes are available for rent in Ponca.

Chase a Waterfall

The Upper Buffalo area encompasses some of the most unique waterfalls in the country. Whether you’d like to see the tallest waterfall between the Appalachians and the Rockies or experience crawling on your hands and knees in complete darkness until emerging into Eden Falls Cave, the area has a little bit of everything. As most of its waterfalls flow from creeks and runoffs, check them out in the early spring or after a good rain.

Needing More?

Opportunities for horseback riding, rock climbing, wildlife viewing, mountain biking and fly fishing are around every corner. Give it a chance! You won't be disappointed.

Published: June 29, 2017

Jon KingExplorer

Based in Kansas City. Instagram: @joneking

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.

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