Ponca to Kyle’s Landing
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 10.7-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.
On Saturdays in May, outfitters are required to launch 2 miles downriver at the Steel Creek access. Private boaters, however, may launch in Ponca on Saturdays during those months, water level permitting.
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.
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.
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.
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 lauching 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
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. 😉