Multi Day Trip

Ponca to Buffalo City

125.4 Miles
7-10 Days


The ultimate Buffalo National River trip is seeing it all, with a trip highlight being the final 24.2 miles of wilderness from Rush to the confluence of the White River with the Buffalo. You can have your vehicle shuttled once or opt to have it staged at certain accesses along the way so you can make supply runs for food and ice. This is a bucket list float trip for sure and one that most people never experience. If you’d like to be one of the fortunate few, talk to our Adventure Staff about planning a trip down the full length of America’s 1st National River—we’re ready to help at 870-861-5514. Highly recommended: Ken Smith’s excellent Buffalo National River book with mile-by-mile descriptions of the river, geologically and historically, or both Trails Illustrated maps of the West and East Half of the Buffalo National River.

Important Note:

LAUNCH SITE: Please note that the upper Buffalo is rainfall dependent and our season is typically March – June, so your launch site may vary based on water level. Check daily Buffalo River Levels, including our current launch site.

Trip Details

Floating Season

March through June is the typical time frame for floating the upper Buffalo National River, although we are sometimes blessed with rainfall that keeps the river floatable into July. You can keep tabs on the river conditions via our Current River Level Report, which is updated whenever the river is floatable, even if that occurs in the winter.

Off-Season Canoeing

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.

Launch Site

Depending upon the month, launch times may vary somewhat. For example, in March when days are shorter, the latest launch time may be Noon or earlier. In April, May and June, when there’s more daylight to be had, we may launch boats as late as 1:00 PM.

Launch Times

Most of the time, your launch site will be determined by water level, with the final decision being made by our General Manager. We make this determination first thing in the morning. When making your boat(s) reservation, please remember that a specific launch site is not guaranteed. Plus, the National Park Service limits where outfitters from launching at the Ponca low water bridge on Saturdays in May, so during that month you’ll typically find us launching at the Steel Creek access, located about 10 minutes from Ponca.

Boat Rentals & Shuttle Rate Times

Contact us to book your canoe(s) and/or kayaks. For weekend rentals, you’ll want to book in advance as we are always 100% booked on Saturdays, oftentimes a month ahead of time.

Additional Info

The NPS has adopted a “zero-tolerance” position on music played on radios, boomboxes and other devices that interfere with the natural, quiet ambience of the designated wilderness area between Steel Creek and Kyle’s Landing accesses. You may, however, enjoy music within the campgrounds. Just remember, please, that many people come to the river for peace and quiet, so play music within earshot of your campfire, rather than your neighbor’s. 😉

two men and a dog building a fire while camping

Buffalo River Camping

Experience Arkansas's finest river camping, whether in a primitive NPS campground or choosing your own spot along America's first national river.

Learn More