This is our most popular Buffalo National River canoe trip and without a doubt the river’s most scenic. Ponca is home to the finest canoeing in Arkansas and arguably the best paddling in mid-America!
This section is 10-miles long and takes around 4 to 6 hours to complete, depending upon the individual, the river level and the amount of time you linger along the way. It features the scenic icons of the upper Buffalo River: majestic Big Bluff and Hemmed-In Hollow, both the tallest of their kind (bluff face and waterfall, respectively) between the Rockies and the Appalachians.
Download (and print!) a handy map of the Ponca-to-Kyle's float trip here!
Please note that on Saturdays in April and May, outfitters are required to launch 2 miles downriver at Steel Creek. Private boaters, however, may launch in Ponca on Saturdays during those months, water level permitting.
When river conditions are too low to launch in Ponca, we move 2 miles downriver to the Steel Creek launch (10 minutes from Ponca on Hwy. 74) where you’ll canoe 8 miles to Kyle’s Landing.
When upper Buffalo National River conditions are too low to canoe from Steel Creek, we then move 24 miles downriver to the Pruitt launch (on Hwy. 7, about 5 miles north of Jasper), where you’ll canoe about 8 miles to Hasty. The day-trip float on this section of river takes about 4 or 5 hours to complete. From a scenery standpoint, this is the second prettiest section of Buffalo National River with many nice bluffs featured along the way.
Download (and print!) a handy map of the Pruitt to Hasty float trip here!
Come to our office in Ponca between 8:00 AM and Noon to learn your launch site, complete your national park contract, and pay for your boat(s). (You can preview the boat rental and vehicle shuttle contract in advance here.) This is also when you will arrange and pay for your vehicle shuttle should you need one. Once this is done, you will drive to the launch site, where our staff will be waiting for you with canoes, paddles, PFDs, and trash bags. See below for information about vehicle shuttles.
Call us at 1-800-221-5514 to book your canoe(s) or book them online on this page. For Saturday and Memorial Day rentals especially, you’ll want to book in advance, as we are always 100% booked on Saturdays---oftentimes a month to six weeks ahead of time. Click here for canoe / kayak / raft rental rates. You can review BOC boat rental payment and cancellation information here.
For your convenience, we shuttle your vehicle to a pre-set take-out access while you enjoy your float trip. No crowded bus to ride or wait on while standing in unsavory weather---it's valet parking, only river style! We recommend booking your shuttle in advance of your arrival as this will help get you on the river even faster. You can book the shuttle now by calling us at 1-800-221-5514. Click here for current vehicle shuttle rates.
How a Shuttle Works
If you have not booked your shuttle in advance, please come to the BOC store to make arrangements. Bringing a spare key with you is very helpful, although not required. Once your paperwork and payment are complete, you will drive to the launch site and leave your car keys with our river staff. We then move cars in the order in which the keys have been handed to us (basically, a first-come/first-serve process). PLEASE NOTE THAT ON HIGH-DEMAND SATURDAYS & MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND, ALL OUTFITTERS CAN EXPERIENCE DELAYS IN MOVING VEHICLES, especially because we share the road and parking areas with lots of other folks. On these busy days, shuttles arranged for in advance stand the best chance of arriving by 4:00 PM or earlier to the take-out. While this is not an iron-clad guarantee, it is what we shoot for. So, please take your time on the river---to hurry isn't what you came for anyway! Please note that shuttles arranged for later on a weekend morning may not be completed until after 4:00 PM.
Motorcycles, Sports Car & RVs
As each vehicle and river trip is different, please call us at 1-880-221-5514 to discuss arrangements for shuttles involving special types of vehicles.
Happy river rats are informed river rats! So, that end, we've put together a handy Q&A based on some of the things our 35+ years of experience have taught us folks find helpful to know before they float the upper Buffalo National River. Visit our Before You Float page here! You will also find a visit to the National Park Service's Buffalo National River pages helpful in planning your float trip, including a page that offers information about float trip safety on the river.
While it's possible for us to have a water level conducive to floating any time of year, our season is typically March through June. Although if rainfall brings the river up, we immediately post the availability of water on our Current Buffalo River Level Report. However, for river trips July through Labor Day, you'll want to contact an outfitter on the middle or lower Buffalo National River. Visit this National Park Service page for a list of outfitters offering canoe rental on the middle and lower Buffalo National River.
After visiting the Buffalo National River and being served by Buffalo Outdoor Center, we encourage you to share your experience with the National Park Service via a special comment form. It's a great way to:
Simply click on this link to open a PDF of the form: Buffalo National River Comment Form. Then, fax, email or mail it back to the National Park Service / Buffalo National River Headquarters (contact information is provided on the form). Each form is personally reviewed by the park superintendent, so it's a great way to directly share your thoughts with park leadership!