Discover the best rental cabins and springtime adventures in Arkansas!
First time to BOC, Ponca and the upper Buffalo National River? Need help putting a springtime trip together?
Jumpstart your trip planning with Buffalo Outdoor Center’s quick guide to all things floating, hiking, tent camping, zipline and mountain biking! Get info on beautiful cabin rentals, group lodges and RV park sites, too. From romantic hot tub cabins with secluded locations and sweeping mountain views…to pet-friendly cabins…to roomy family cabins and beautiful group lodges, we have the perfect place to call home after a full day of Buffalo River adventure!
Ready to Learn More? Let’s Get Started!
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Canoe, Kayak, & Raft Trips
Typically, March – June is float trip season on the upper Buffalo National River (Ponca to Woolum area), although we sometimes enjoy late-season rainfall that keeps us floating into July. See the current Buffalo River paddling conditions on our Buffalo River Water Levels page.
What to Expect
For a day trip, you’ll discover the best float trip scenery in Arkansas between the Ponca and Kyle’s Landing river accesses. That’s 10+ scenic miles of towering bluffs and waterfalls, pristine water, pretty places to picnic or swim and opportunities for wildlife watching. This is the premier section for river scenery in Arkansas, as well as on the Buffalo National River. Wanting multiple days on the Buffalo? Check out our Multi-Day Buffalo River Trips as a great place to get started with your trip planning. Love to float and fish? Click here for more info on Buffalo River fishing, including where to get an out-of-state license.
Weekends are quite popular for floating, so you’ll want to reserve your canoe, kayak or raft well in advance of your arrival date. Weekday canoe and kayak rentals do not require advance reservations. However, due to a limited number of kayaks and rafts, even during the week you will want to reserve those types of boats ahead of time. Book online or contact us.
Hiking & Waterfall Trails
Spring rainfall turns on countless waterfalls in the Ponca Wilderness of the Buffalo National River, including some of The Natural State’s most beautiful such as the majestic Hemmed-In Hollow waterfall. In April and May, you’ll find waterfall areas in bloom with native wildflowers, so your spring hiking adventures are made all the more beautiful by their presence. From Ponca, you’re near two of the most popular hiking destinations in Arkansas: the Lost Valley and Whitaker Point (aka Hawksbill Crag) trails. Need a trail map? Visit our Top Buffalo River Hiking Trails page to explore hiking options and get a free PDF map download of the most popular upper Buffalo River trails!
What to Expect
Hiking trails are busy on weekends, but the scenery remains grand and the hiking worth doing. To have trails more to yourself, hike midweek. Have a pet you love to hike with? While pets are not permitted on national park trails, they are most welcome on trails within the adjacent national forest such as the Glory Hole Trail and Pedestal Rocks Trail.
Hiking Quick Links
Experience the only wilderness zipline tour in Arkansas! Far more than a zipline run, our Buffalo River Canopy Tour is 2.5 hours of high-flying adventure through the treetops of the Ponca Wilderness. Thrilling fun for ages 7 and older, with some health and weight restrictions applying. Learn more about our zipline adventure here.
What to Expect
Vivid greens of spring in the treetops, deer with their fawns, even the occasional black bear or elk can be seen as you zip along. Some of our most avid zipline guests are age 65+, so be sure to invite Grandma and Grandpa!
Advance reservations are always recommended, especially for weekends. Book online or contact us. Open March 4 – Nov 22, 2020.
Learn about special holiday dates and days closed:
New! Ponca Downhill Mountain Bike Trail System
Ponca now boasts some of the longest downhill mountain bike trails in Arkansas! Weaving below BOC’s mountain-top cabins, you’ll find a network of gravity lines that can be strung together into six-mile-long runs with as much as 1,300 feet of descending. The downhill-specific trails cater to intermediate and expert riders, but a multi-directional trail, which can be ridden up or down, is suitable for intermediate riders.
What to Expect
In March, weather can range from warm and wonderful to chilly, so wear clothing that lets you dress in layers. In April and May, daytime temps tend to hover in the 70’s-80’s; be sure to carry plenty of water on your ride and using some bug repellent pre-ride is also recommended. Things warm up in June, so hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Reservations are not required for the Ponca Downhill MBT system, although larger groups might want to contact us and make us aware of shuttle service needs. See below for Ponca Downhill shuttle hours and rates.
Biking Quick Links
NEW FOR 2021 – all BOC cabins now have free wifi!
We offer beautiful rental cabins that fit most any budget. Our mountain-top cabins are guest favorites for their big wilderness views, hot tub decks, fireplaces, romantic amenities, and secluded locations. In Ponca, you’ll find cabins that offer a quality stay at budget-friendly rates. And whatever BOC cabin you choose, you can count on it to be super clean with comfortable and quality furnishings. You’ll also enjoy the most flexible cancellation policies around when staying with us. Scroll on for links to the various cabin categories, including wifi cabins and pet-friendly lodging!
What to Expect
In March, the weather can range from warm and wonderful to chilly, so pack clothing that lets you dress in layers. In April and May, daytime temps tend to hover in the 70’s-80’s with the nights still on the cool side, making for ideal cabin porch swing weather!
For spring weekends and Memorial Day weekend, you’ll want to reserve a cabin as soon as you know your trip dates. Last-minute cabins can be hard to come by, although the occasional cancellation does occur. In June, even weekday cabins are in high demand, so be sure to book ahead for this popular month. Book online or contact us.
Group Lodge Rentals
Need a beautiful place for an event, such as a family reunion, wedding or corporate retreat? Or, just a gathering of great friends? We have two extra special lodge rentals, each one the kind of place to which you would feel proud to invite family, friends, or co-workers. And, happily, both lodges are value-priced for group events that are budget friendly, not budget breaking!
Our RiverWind Lodge, with its stunning 30-mile view across the upper Buffalo National River wilderness, is an extraordinary setting for whatever event you’re planning. Its 5,000 sq ft of gathering and accommodations space, plus, the lodge’s sweeping 30-mile view of upper Buffalo River country makes it the most unique lodge rental of its kind in Arkansas. Learn more about the fabulous amenities of this premier Arkansas lodge, with lodging for up to 36 (dbl occ) and indoor gathering space for up to 100.
Ponca Creek Lodge
Ponca Creek Lodge is an architectural showcase both inside and out. Unique features are what this lodge is all about, from its stunning living room fireplace and gorgeous, spacious kitchen to its fabulous outdoor decks overlooking Ponca Creek. This lodge is the perfect place for a wedding, but also an extra special rental for gatherings of friends or family. The lodge accommodates up to 16 guests (dbl occ) overnight or up to 80 guests for a special event.
Our lodges are a quite popular, so plan ahead as much as possible in order to secure the dates you prefer. Book online or contact us. Need catering or other special event services? We’d love to provide you with local suggestions for florists, wedding ministers and more!
Lodge Quick Links
Got an RV? We have RV campground sites! And not just any sites—the kind that discriminating RVers prefer. We’re RVers, too, so we understand that you want spacious campground sites, clean and up-to-date bathhouse facilities, and a beautiful view! Click here for more info about BOC’s RV camping, convenient to Ponca and the Buffalo National River.
What to Expect
We offer 14 RV campsites, all with level concrete pads, outdoor grills and full hookups, including 30/50/100 amp electric. Most pads are 60 feet long, with additional gravel drive space for your tow vehicle. Ask about our buddy sites! With the campground’s Ozark Mountain-top location, you’ll enjoy beautiful sunrises and sunsets, plus, fresh mountain breezes.
For spring weekends and Memorial Day weekend, you’ll want to reserve as soon as you know your trip dates. Book online or contact us.
Looking for Elk?
Once warmer spring weather arrives, the Ponca elk herd tends to stay tucked away in the cool shade of the tree line along the Buffalo National River. Besides, tender spring tree leaves are an elk’s favorite snack! Even so, you’ll always run the chance of seeing elk grazing in fields near Ponca in the spring. Late May and June are particularly good times to see elk moms with their newborn calves.
Buffalo Outdoor Center is authorized within Buffalo National River to provide canoe, kayak, and raft rentals and transportation services.