The Buffalo National River
The Buffalo National River begins as a trickle in the Boston Mountains, where it flows north and then
Eastward through the Ozark Mountains until it merges 150 miles later with the White River at
The upper Buffalo National River offers the river’s finest scenic beauty. With its massive, towering bluffs, countless
waterfalls, watchable wildlife, ties to both historic and prehistoric cultures, and remote, unspoiled location, the upper
Buffalo River wilderness is surely mid-America’s finest outdoor destination.
In fact, the entire river is such a special place that in 1972, Congress designated it as America’s first national river.
This unique status protects the Buffalo from commercial or residential development, along with other destructive
operations such as damming and gravel mining, thus preserving its scenic beauty and natural wild state forever.
The floating season on the upper Buffalo (Ponca to Pruitt) is March through June, with early July floating a possibility
on occasion. The Buffalo is primarily dependent upon rainfall for its water level, so once the rains of spring and early
summer have passed, so has the chance to float the upper section. (Hiking
, however, is great year-round, as is trail
SPECIAL NOTE: As a river preservation measure, the National Park Service limits the number of rental boats that
can be launched on any given day.
Therefore, if you are planning a weekend float, it is wise to reserve your
boat(s) in advance.
For example, it is never too early to book a boat for a May weekend, which is the upper Buffalo’s
most popular floating month.
skill level (see Young Children note below). Floating is generally done in canoes, with rafting and kayaking possible