Minimum Flow for Upper Buffalo R.

I am planning a 5-day trip on the Buffalo River in Arkansas starting next weekend. I would like to incorporate the Boxley to Pruitt section, but was surprised after all the recent flooding to see the Boxley gauge at only 9.9 cfs this evening.

Does anyone have a recommended minimum flow for this section? I’ve paddled the middle and lower river several times, but I sure would like to paddle the rapids on the upper reach.

Thanks for any advice.

The American Whitewater page shows
low flow for the upper sections. I don’t always agree with their judgement, but usually they will class a flow level as “medium” and runnable when I would skip it.

Boxley gauge is on the fritz…

– Last Updated: Apr-18-08 10:15 PM EST –

But having said that, without more rain it's currently too low to do the Boxley section. Until USGS can get back out to tinker with the Boxley gauge again, use the actual Ponca bridge level posted by the Buffalo Outdoor Center:

I believe it's at 21" or so airspace right now, and that would be absolute bare minimum to do the Boxley section.

Of course, there looks to be good chances of rain all through next week down here, so that certainly might change.

Have fun with your trip.

Edited to add: to be clear - the current level of 21" airspace is fine to put in at the Ponca bridge, just not at Boxley.

I have only done the Buffalo three times
but two were right after the floods abated…that is the only time I saw anyone going down from Boxley.

The other time was about 18 of space below the Ponca bridge and even then we chose to go down to Steel Creek.

Timing is everything; the Buffalo is a small watershed.

I appreciate all the helpful information, especially the Ponca bridge air space reference. I’ve bookmarked the link & will be watching it closely next week.

Thanks again.


I’ve paddled the Buffalo
several times. The first trip we got flooded the second day on the river. We were fortunate enough to make it to Kyles Landing and camp in the campgroud. We were able to get a ride out with folks to get our vehicles and run the Boxley to Ponca run the next day. It was a wild ride considering we didn’t have that much experince at the time. It was great and I’m glad I can say, “I’ve Done That”!

53 feet in March
The river has been up and down a lot this year. I’ve seen gauge readings (Harriet gauge) of 53 feet and more recently 40 feet. The river closes at 10. According to my shuttle operator, it was just a few feet below the Hwy 14 bridge south of Yellville at 53 feet. They have pictures of the river actually flowing over the bridge during one flood a long time ago. The first time I tried to paddle the Buffalo, it flooded just before I got there. Kind of a bummer since I had driven from Indianapolis, but we ended up paddling the Current & Jack’s Fork. That’s my backup plan for this trip too.