Dallas Downriver Club

Buffalo National River, Arkansas

Date: May 17 - 20, 2018 Sponsor: DDRC
River: Buffalo between Pruitt and Silver Hill, AR Trip Leader: Bryan Jackson
Reach: Ozark Public Access to Grinders Ferry Public Access Phone: 972-979-2519
Difficulty: Whitewater Class I to II depending on flow * (See scale below) E-mail: paddlinpals@yahoo.com
Rendezvous: May 17 Ozark Public Access 7:00am Required Skills: Moving water/Whitewater experience, proper protective gear, canoe camping
Campground: Canoe Camping "on the river' RSVP Required before April 15, 2018

Trip Description:

Notice!!!! Bring your plastic boats. Do not bring fragile boats on this trip. We have had boat breakage due to rocks in shallow spots two years in a row. Last year one paddler had to come off the river on Day 1 due to a cracked hull.  

The Buffalo is America’s first National River, located in the heart of the southern Ozarks in northern Arkansas. This undammed, free-flowing clearwater river flows through a 135-mile corridor administered by the National Park Service and offers a real sense of wildness and isolation. You will float past towering multi-colored cliffs of limestone and sandstone that reach hundreds of feet above you. Dense forests line the banks, and hidden away in the flanking hollows are springs, caves, waterfalls, natural bridges and box canyons. There are prehistoric and historic cultural sites such as Archaic Indian bluff shelters or early settler cabins, some of which you can get to with a short hike.

Most of the river consists of easy flatwater, but in some sections we may encounter Class I-II rapids. The river is not considered to be technically difficult, but it is recommended that paddlers have had some river running or canoe camping experience. We will run the reach from Ozark to US Highway 65, a distance of about 47 miles.

Be Prepared!

Bring everything you will need for 3 nights and 4 days on the river. 

We will have pot luck dinners, but make sure you bring enough breakfast, lunch , snacks and drinks. 

Weather in the Ozarks is changeable and we will be camping on gravel bars on the river away from the public access camping and launch areas. Be prepared for the possibility of freezing weather at night and bring proper gear.

This trip runs rain or shine, provided the river is not flooding.

We will be hiring a shuttle to drop the drivers back at the put in and to drop one or more of our vehicles at the takeout on Sunday. Shuttle cost will be divided among the group. 



 From Dallas

Take Interstate 30 to the west side of Little Rock, Ar.

Take EXIT 129 to I-430 North  

Take EXIT 13B I-40 towards Fort Smith.

Take EXIT 81 AR 7 Russellville 

Follow AR 7 for roughly 60 miles, passing the town of Jasper and turn left on the access road to Ozark Public access (County Road 129) about one mile before crossing the River. If you cross the river, you went too far.


Take Interstate 30 to the west side of Little Rock, AR.

Take EXIT 129 to I-430 North

Take EXIT 13B I-40 towards Fort Smith

Take EXIT 125 US 65 N at Conway, AR.

Follow US 65 N and turn left on AR 206 in Bellefonte, AR.

Follow AR 206 to AR 7 and turn left.

Follow AR 7 in to the town of Pruitt, AR and cross over the River. about a mile past the River turn right on the Ozark Public Access road (County Road 129)

Please click on map to get the full size NPS map page with proper orientation.



* International Scale of River Difficulty

Class I: Easy. Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Risk to swimmers is slight, self-rescue is easy.

Class II: Novice. Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed.

Class III: Intermediate. Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. Scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims.

Class IV: Advanced. Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. Depending on the character of the river, it may feature large, unavoidable waves and holes or constricted passages demanding fast maneuvers under pressure. A fast, reliable eddy turn may be needed to initiate maneuvers, scout rapids, or rest. Rapids may require "must" moves above dangerous hazards. Scouting is necessary the first time down. Risk of injury to swimmers is moderate to high, and water conditions may make self-rescue difficult. Group assistance for rescue is often essential but requires practiced skills. A strong eskimo roll is highly recommended.

Class V: Expert. Extremely long, obstructed, or very violent rapids which expose a paddler to above average endangerment. Drops may contain large, unavoidable waves and holes or steep, congested chutes with complex, demanding routes. Rapids may continue for long distances between pools, demanding a high level of fitness. What eddies exist may be small, turbulent, or difficult to reach. At the high end of the scale, several of these factors may be combined. Scouting is mandatory but often difficult. Swims are dangerous, and rescue is difficult even for experts. A very reliable eskimo roll, proper equipment, extensive experience, and practiced rescue skills are essential for survival.

Class VI: Extreme. One grade more difficult than Class V. These runs often exemplify the extremes of difficulty, unpredictability and danger. The consequences of errors are very severe and rescue may be impossible. For teams of experts only, at favorable water levels, after close personal inspection and taking all precautions. This class does not represent drops thought to be unrunnable, but may include rapids which are only occasionally run.


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last updated February 14, 2018 3:09 PM