Camping on the Buffalo River is a beautiful outdoor experience, whether you’re in a designated National Park Service campground or camping on a vacant gravel bar along the river. Here is some essential introductory information about Buffalo River camping, plus, you will want to visit the National Park Service's Buffalo National River page for additional camping information.
Upper Buffalo National River Campgrounds
The upper Buffalo River features several National Park Service campgrounds with pretty scenery...arguably the prettiest in the park! The campgrounds of the upper Buffalo River are: Steel Creek, Kyle’s Landing, Erbie, Ozark, Carver, and Mount Hersey. The Steel Creek and Kyle’s Landing campgrounds are the most popular because of their proximity to the Ponca-to-Kyle’s Landing section of river. These are primitive campgrounds with basic tent site accommodations, including space for up to 3 tents (max of 6 peole per site), a picnic table, fire grate and lantern pole. Sites are $20 per night / per site. Drinking water faucets are available, as well as pit and flush toilets. (Please note that flush toilets are closed from November through early
March.) There are no shower facilities. Pets are welcome, but must be on a leash at all times in campgrounds.
First-Come, First-Serve Camping
National Park Service campgrounds on the upper Buffalo River (besides Steel Creek Campground) do not accept reservations. So, if your plans include a spring weekend outing, you’ll want to arrive early in order to secure a site, as it is not uncommon for the campgrounds to be filled by Friday evening. To reserve a campsite at Steel Creek visit Recreation.gov.
No Electricity, Phone or RV Facilities
Please note that none of the upper river campgrounds have electricity or shower facilities (from Ponca to Carver). The campgrounds do, however, have running water, pit and/or flush toilets, and tent camping sites with a grill grate, lantern pole, and picnic table. Please note that cell phones cannot receive reception at campgrounds due to the geography and lack of towers in this area. If you have an RV, you should call the NPS at (870) 741-5443 for campsite recommendations.
You may camp along the river or hiking trail in a site of your own choosing as long as you stay ½ mile ABOVE or BELOW a designated National Park Service campground. This type of camping is FREE, but certain park service guidelines and regulations do apply such as those relating to trash and fire rings. Check with the NPS headquarters in Harrison at 870-741-5443 for specific details. Always camp with rising water in mind. Check qualified weather forecast sources before choosing to launch. Choose a camp site that offers an escape out by land.
Backpacking the Buffalo River?
For backpackers, we offer vehicle shuttle services that you can depend on. Please call us at 870-861-5514 or simply walk in our store to arrange your shuttle. We can also help with planning your backpacking itinerary or provide you with information about the grocery and camping supplies we carry in our store.
Online Buffalo National River Map
Visit our Buffalo River Map page to view a full-length map of the river. You can also download printable PDF maps of the three upper river sections located between Ponca and Pruitt: Ponca to Kyle's Landing / Kyle's Landing to Pruitt / Pruitt to Carver.
Buffalo National River Maps for Sale
We carry excellent Trails Illustrated maps of the Buffalo National River in our store, which was can also mail to you in advance of your trip. Just give us a call at 870-861-5514 and indicate which map you prefer. For the map that covers the Ponca-to-Pruitt section, request the WEST HALF - BUFFALO RIVER MAP. This map includes river and trail topo detail from the headwaters area downstream to Woolum. For the middle and lower river districts, request the EAST HALF - BUFFALO RIVER MAP, which covers from Woolum downstream to Buffalo City where the river confluences with the White River. Need your map(s) before traveling? Call us at 1-800-221-5514 with your Visa, MasterCard or Discover Card and we can ship your map(s) pronto! Buffalo National River maps are $13.95+tax. Shipping for one map is $5.00.
WANT A COZY, BUDGET-FRIENDLY CABIN INSTEAD OF A TENT?
We have beautiful, budget-minded cabin options in Ponca that host up to six or eight guests, even cabins that are romantic retreats for two! Love the idea of a hot tub cabin? We have that, too!
- Cabins for up to 6 guests, dbl occ: CREEKSIDE CABIN / CABIN 1 / CABIN 2 / CABIN 4 / CROSSBOW / SONGBIRD
- Romantic Cabins for 2 guests: VALLEY MIST / VALLEY SECRET
- Ponca Hot Tub Cabin for up to 8 guests, dbl occ: MILLS CABIN
Prefer to step up to a luxury cabin with a big view, perhaps even a hot tub? Click here to explore our mountain cabins!
GOT AN RV?
We have the perfect spot for it! Click here to visit our RV CAMPGROUND page.