Buffalo River question

What is an optimun river level for the Buffalo River in Arkansas for a beginner canoist

(been on 4 canoe trips). Dying to go again but cannot for the life of me remember what the river level was first time I went canoeing on it.

Looking for recomendations (put-in, take-out, and recommended river levels) for a 3 day float

hopefully this spring.

Any info would be helpfull and appreciated !

Recommended float levels
Here’s a link that should help you:


You will also find river gauge levels on another part of this same site.

I suggest…

– Last Updated: Dec-10-07 5:45 PM EST –

I suggest that you check out the website that puffingin suggested.

Here is some information that might assist you:

Recommended floating levels for the Buffalo National River (Water levels noted equal "ample" water for floating)

Ponca to Steel Creek: 2.5' to 4.9'

Highway 7 Bridge to Pruitt: 2.0' to 4.0'

Highway 65 Bridge to Tyler Bend: 4.6' to 8.5'

Highway 14 Bridge to Buffalo Point: 3.5' to 5.9'

If you are truly a "beginner" I suggest that you stay "below the minimum" suggested level for ample water. As an example; if you are truly a beginner, and put in at Ponca at 2.0' you will probably be ok. BUT, if you are truly a beginner, and you put in at Ponca at 4.9', you may "not" live to be an intermediate.

Beautiful river; go for it!


P.S. Make a great $17.00 investment; buy Canoeing & Kayaking Guide to the Ozarks, by Tom Kennon.

P.S.#2 If you plan on river camping, as opposed to day floating & camping in campgrounds; you would be wise to check the weather forecast, particularly if you plan on paddling the Buffalo in the Spring. It can rise quite rapidly after heavy rain, particularly if you're on the upper sections. You would not be the first, nor will you be the last, to have to be rescued out of a tree.

P.S.#3 Familiarize yourself with regulations for canoeing on the Buffalo river, and save yourself from getting an expensive fine. Ignorance of the regulations will probably "not" be a sufficient excuse for those writing the tickets.

New to Arkansas
I am new to AR. Planning to paddle the Buffalo spring 08. Good info, I’ll try to find the book. I work on the rivers, so I’m learning about the river stages, just haven’t adapted them to paddling yet. Anyone looking for a paddle partner, give me a yell. Most of the time I’m the Lone Ranger out there. Anyone paddle the Cossatot?


– Last Updated: Dec-10-07 11:40 PM EST –

You do "not" want to play "Lone Ranger" on the Cossatot. In other words; if you paddle there, you had better have your game together, and you would be well advised to be paddling with people who have swiftwater rescue skills.

I suggest you seek more information about the Cossatot on the Arkansas Canoe Club website.
There are people there who run the Cossatot on a fairly regular basis, and more than a few of them have swiftwater rescue training.


spring on the Buffalo
While you might hit a low water level, I never have in April. I have had to wait for floods to ease and one night four inches of rain fell on another trip and we had to wait that one out too on a shore camp site (not a campground).

Someday I will be able to run it without dodging willows.

A safer bet is to put in at Pruitt and get out at Maumee. That might be more than three days at lower water.

We have done the trip from Ponca to Maumee South twice and both times it was a four day trip. The river water was not turquoise! WWe wpent a total of sixteen hours paddling.

It was a moving.

Camp high and tie everything down. Its no good to get hit by a flying canoe in a windstorem.

Buffalo Trip
thebob is right on the money. Go to www.arkansascanoeclub.com. Richard has been trying to get a trip going but there is no water to paddle right now. Keep an eye on the board. You will be more than welcome to join in the fun and you will find no shortage of people who will be glad to help you in anyway that they can.

Another book
Another excellent book that is specific to the Buffalo River is the “Buffalo River Handbook” by Kenneth L. Smith. You can find it on Amazon.com if you can’t find it locally. It has mile by mile descriptions of the river, but also has a lot of natural history and descriptive history information that made my floats on the Buffalo more interesting (although I would have been happy enough with the beautiful scenery alone!). Since you live in the area, it might be a good investment. Hiking trails are also covered.

Natiional Geographic
also puts out two maps…Buffalo River East and Buffalo River West. They are waterproof

That way you will be sure to hit the right spot for some hikes. There are sure some nice hikes in the area. The maps have the hiking trails too.