All Posts Watching the solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, will be an extra special experience for Buffalo River lovers. explore
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Eclipse Travel Planning Tips for Ponca Visitors

A solar eclipse is an extraordinary, rare, and mesmerizing thing of beauty.  And very soon, we’ll welcome guests to Ponca from across the nation—perhaps even from around the world!—to view an eclipse in the skies above Arkansas’s prettiest place, the upper Buffalo National River!

With the eclipse date (April 8th) now on the immediate horizon, we wanted to share some key things to consider as you make your travel plans.  Things that may or may not come to pass, but that having an appreciation for will well serve you as you make your eclipse plans for Ponca.

First and foremost, come expecting a great time.  You’re coming to God’s Country, so even without an eclipse to view, there is plenty to be amazed by on the river and trail in our neck of the Buffalo River woods.  Having said that, an influx of visitors to our small community and surrounding national park can effect things like travel time and the availability of services.  With that in mind, here are some trip-planning tips to keep in mind as you make plans for Ponca and the 2024 total eclipse!

Driving on HWY 43 toward Ponca


EXPECT TRAVEL DELAYS: With visitation to the state of Arkansas soaring during the week of the eclipse, expect travel time to Ponca to take longer, regardless of which direction you are traveling from. Need directions? Visit our Map & Directions page to determine which route to Ponca is best for you.  The National Park Service recommends checking this Arkansas Highway Department website for travel alerts or delays:  Current Arkansas Roads & Highways Traffic.

POST-ECLIPSE TRAVEL: Travel on Arkansas roads is expected to be inordinately heavy during the immediate hours following the eclipse, as well as Tuesday, April 9th.  If you’re staying with us for the eclipse, consider adding the night of Tuesday, April 9th, to your stay.  We currently have rental cabins available for that evening.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE ECLIPSE INFO:  Be sure to visit the NPS’s Buffalo National River eclipse page for their travel and services information.  This page also features a totality map of the eclipse’s path over the Buffalo National River, as well as the prime viewing times for the event.


FUEL & GROCERIES: Demand for fuel and groceries will be high in Ponca during the week of the eclipse. Plan to arrive Ponca with as much fuel in your tank as possible, as well as a good supply of groceries if you are staying overnight in the Ponca or Jasper area.

EMERGENCY SERVICES: Emergency services such as ambulance, fire, river / trail rescue teams and sheriff’s department support, even roadside service, may not be readily available during this extra busy time.  Your travel time to an area hospital, walk-in clinic or doctor’s office will most likely take longer than usual. Visitors need to be very aware of these potential delays and/or reductions in emergency response assistance, especially people with known health issues.  

Hiker on Whitaker Point / Hawksbill Crag, one of the most popular and visually stunning trails in upper Buffalo River country.


If you wish to view the eclipse from a popular upper Buffalo National River trail, you will want to arrive at your chosen trailhead WELL in advance of the actual eclipse. This could mean arriving hours before the solar event or even days before at popular trailheads like Whitaker Point or Big Bluff

Enjoy your own private eclipse perch from a Buffalo Outdoor Center hot tub cabin.


If you are staying overnight in the Ponca area, you may find eclipse watching far more enjoyable from the privacy of your rental cabin.  BOC guests enjoy extra special eclipse viewing at our mountain top cabins, some will even eclipse watch from their cabin’s outdoor hot tub deck!  If you haven’t yet booked your lodging, we still have a few cabins available as of the date of this posting.

Towering bluffs along the upper Buffalo National River between Ponca and Kyle's Landing.


BOAT RENTAL:  One of the most unique eclipse adventures one can have is floating a river during the event.  But not just any river—America’s First National RiverFor the eclipse, we are offering a 3-day canoe or kayak rental, launching guests on Sunday, April 7th, with a takeout date of Tuesday, April 9th.  You can certainly extend your trip by any number of days, launching prior to April 7th and/or taking off after April 9th.  Just note that if your float trip includes Monday, April 8th (eclipse day), then your rental must include at least the dates of April 7th, 8th and 9th.  Please call us at 870-861-5514 for rates and to book your eclipse float trip.  Be sure you also arrange for your vehicle shuttle at the time of your booking.

Your launch site and 3-day takeout option(s) will be determined by water level and what we feel is logistically feasible given traffic in the area.  Thank you for remaining flexible regarding launch and takeout; we will make those determinations by the morning of April 8th.

PRIVATE BOATER ALERT:  At this time, we are unable to accept vehicle shuttles for Monday, April 8th.  The National Park Service is expecting an inordinately large volume of park visitors for the eclipse, which will greatly impact parking at river accesses, as well as create congestion on area gravel roads and highways.  This influx of traffic will hinder outfitters’ ability to deliver vehicles in a timely manner or even at all.  We apologize deeply for the inconvenience as it is always our desire to go the extra mile for our customers.

Experience the eclipse from a unique vantage point on our special Eclipse Zipline Tour!


Looking for an extraordinary way to experience the upcoming total solar eclipse?  Then come soar through the treetops of upper Buffalo River country with us on our special Eclipse Zipline Tour!  This 2-hour guided zipline adventure begins in advance of prime eclipse watching (@ 1:50 PM / Ponca Time) and is limited to just 10 lucky guests—so, make your reservation ASAP!  Book your tour here online or call us at 870-861-5514.

Camping at Kyles Landing Campground on the Buffalo National River.


There are two official National Park Service campgrounds in the Ponca area:  Steel Creek Campground, which also offers horse camping sites, and Kyle’s Landing 3 miles off Hwy 74 between Ponca and Jasper.  offers some Buffalo National River campsites that can be reserved in advance, however most campsite are first-come, first-serve.  Campsites are limited in number and will go quickly.  In fact, campers may show up several days in advance of the eclipse in order to claim a campsite.



Mountain Bikers on the BOC Ponca Downhill MTB Trail.


Love to shred?  Then shred the MTB trails of the Buffalo River wilderness during the eclipse!  Our thrilling Ponca Downhill MTB Trail shuttle van will be serving MTB guests throughout the day on Monday, April 8th.  Running the Ponca Downhill MTB trail is free and for experienced riders only.  Our shuttle van, which transports you and your bike back to the trailhead once your ride is complete, is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Day passes for the shuttle van are $40+tax per rider and $20+tax per rider for half-day passes.  Shuttle van hours are 8:00 AM – 5:30 PM.  Please be aware that our shuttle service may take longer than usual to accommodate you due to an anticipated higher volume of traffic and people in the area.

Novice and intermediate MTB riders can run a section of the Upper Buffalo River MTB Trail System during the eclipse.  This MTB system is located about 30 minutes south of Ponca in the Buffalo River headwaters area.  The Upper Buffalo River MTB trail system is free with riders providing their own shuttle service.


We’ve wondered that, too!  The good news is, take heart—this insightful article at reveals how fascinatingly beautiful a solar eclipse with cloudy skies can be!


Kayaker on a river
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