March 31, 2015 7:00 AM - The water level at Ponca is presently at 18" of airspace. The river is rated as "Moderate" according to the National Park Service and is open to rental boats. We recommend you have paddling skills as the water and air temps are cold, greatly increasing the risk of cold-water immersion and hypothermia if you go overboard.
AVOID THE RISK OF COLD-WATER IMMERSION OR HYPOTHERMIA: Dress in quick-dry layers (not cotton) or, even better, a wet suit, which we have available for rent in our store for $10+tax for the suit; $5+tax for booties. Also, a spare change of clothes, a large towel and matches are great buddies to have along in a dry bag. A great defense against these cold-weather risks is a good offense: only float if you have solid paddling skills that will keep you upright, not upside down in your boat.
New to canoeing? Then you'll want to watch our popular canoeing video of tips on "How to Avoid Turning Over," hosted by BOC's Canoe Operator, Mike Mills. This short canoeing video has been viewed by more than 40,000 paddlers---now it's your turn!
Learn in this quick, insightful video how we use airspace at the Ponca low water bridge to help us gauge river floating conditions: Ponca Airspace & Buffalo River Canoeing
Reservations are always recommended, although you can typically just walk in our office and rent a canoe early in the spring, it's not always guaranteed. Kayaks and rafts, however, are available in limited numbers; therefore, an advance reservation is always recommended. If you are planning to float on a weekend in April, May or June, we encourage you to reserve your boats now as last-minute rentals are usually hard to come by. Please note that on weekends in May and June, we will be launching from Steel Creek and floating to Kyles, unless the water levels do not permit us to, in which case, we would float from Pruitt to Hasty.
Check out our helpful "FLOATING SAFETY TIPS" page for some important things to consider before paddling the Buffalo National River with children.
BE AWARE: ARKANSAS LAW REQUIRES that children 12 years old and younger must wear a USCG–approved PFD securely fastened to their persons at all times while on any vessel.