Category Archives: Buffalo River Outfitters

Cold Weather Paddling

Chilly CanoeMarch is very special to us here at Buffalo River Outfitters as it marks the beginning of our 2019 floating season! The water levels are marvelous for day or overnight floats already, making us so optimistic for amazing conditions to come all year! If you are looking for a great Spring Break excursion, look no further. You’ve found an amazing adventure just waiting to be experienced here at the Buffalo National River. And the best time of year is now if you are looking for faster water and wanting to avoid too many fellow floaters.

Sometimes the weather stays chilly well into April, so it’s best to come prepared. If you are coming early in the year to experience what the Buffalo has to offer, be advised that the river will stay icy cold (below 50 degrees) until late April or early May. Be ready with towels, a change of clothes, and make sure your phone is in a waterproof container and fully charged in case any emergency calls need to be made.

What to wear?

So what should you wear on your early-season excursion? You will want to select light, comfortable, moisture-wicking clothes. Not cotton. Cotton collects and holds moisture against your skin, and is a bulky, useless layer otherwise. Don’t over-layer and make sure none of your clothing is tight or restricting circulation, specifically socks. Neoprene, wool, and synthetic fabrics are best when layering for a chilly day on the Buffalo.

What to bring?

Bringing along snacks and a thermos of something warm is always a good idea. Granola bars, bananas, cheese, peanut butter, or anything filling and nutrient-rich is a great way to stay warm and energized on your journey. While coffee is a common and easy choice for thermos fillings, consider maybe bringing something a little more hydrating, such as tea, warm water, or even bone broth.

When packing for your cold weather trip, even if you are going for just a few hours, think about bringing an emergency fire kit. Spring in the Ozarks comes with plenty of soggy weather, so bringing along dry kindling that will catch fire quickly could be a life-saver. Weather-proof matches, fire starting devices, or flares are always handy if you are needing to create warmth quickly.

What to know?

Stay informed. Even if the weather seems mild, the water may still be dangerously cold, so check the conditions and dress/pack accordingly. Preparedness could be the difference between the best adventure ever and a rescue mission. Know the river level and it’s meaning, and check the weather forecast before you go. Additionally, it may be difficult for Buffalo River Outfitters or the National Park Service to get down to remote parts of the river. Knowing where you are and what landmarks are nearby can make all the difference if someone needs help.

Click here to check the Buffalo River levels at the Highway 65 Bridge in St. Joe, Arkansas.

Spring is a beautiful time of the year to experience the Buffalo River, but Mother Nature demands respect. We can help you plan your trip, inform you on upcoming weather, and update you on river conditions – just give us a call at 870-439-2200 any day between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm CT.

We are here to help you find your next adventure!!

Top Ten Things To Do in Buffalo River Country This Spring Break

Warmer weather is so close, we can almost taste it. Seeing Buffalo River Country dressed in spring is something you’ll want to put on your bucket list for Spring Break 2019. From the gorgeous river itself, to the surrounding nature and community, there is something for everyone nestled right here in Searcy County. Here are just a few ideas:

1. Go hiking.

spring at the buffalo

Cooler weather is great for hiking, and spring brings flowers and stunning scenery to the Buffalo National River! Tyler Bend is tangled with so many hikes, whether you are looking for a quick, easy outing or an all-day trek. Featuring thought-provoking historical sites and adrenaline-pumping river overlooks, adventure is waiting for you right here in the gorgeous Middle District.

Hike to your instagram dreams here.

2. Take in a show.

Did you know that Searcy County is home to Arkansas’ only year-round Drive-in movie theater? The Kenda Drive-In is a community cornerstone and to this day is run by the same family that opened it 45 years ago. Nothing ends a perfect day of exploring or relaxing quite like a movie under the beautiful night sky. A full concession stand with very reasonably-priced snacks and food options makes this a must-do in Buffalo River Country.

Click here to find out more about the Kenda Drive-In.

3. Go riding.

Horseback riding is a long-standing tradition all along the Buffalo River. And no better opportunity can be found other than right here in our district. With over 75 miles of equestrian designated trails, and drive-in horse campsites at Woolum, Steel Creek, Erbie and Hathaway, the Buffalo River is the perfect getaway for you and your saddled friend.

Find your next trail ride here.

4. Go camping.

Once the weather becomes agreeable, camping opportunities are endless on and around the Buffalo River. Ready to rough it? Plenty of rocky riverbank is ready for you to call home. Want to go a little austere but still have a bathroom within reach? Tyler Bend Campground provides showers, flush toilets, water and picnic tables on and around their designated pay campsites.

Click here to find camping on the Buffalo National River.

5. Go floating.

Did you know that spring is the only time to catch the water of the Buffalo dancing in sparkling blue-green? With the springs running out of the rocks cold and fresh, the lime contained deep within the stone stirs a jeweled tone into the Buffalo National River, making it a breathtaking sight absolutely not to be missed.

Find out more about floating the Buffalo here.

6. Get coffee and go picking.

Want to take it slow and shop a while? With so, so many shops located in Marshall and Leslie (just 10-20 minutes from the river), drop in and grab an iced coffee at Rock ‘n’ Java on the hill in Marshall and make it a day out with your best picker buddies.

Click here to learn more about Rock n Java.

7. Indulge at Furgeson’s.

Start your day the decadent way with a massive, delicious cinnamon roll from Ferguson’s, located right on Highway 65, just a hop, skip and jump from the river. Nothing says “today is gonna be a good day” than a cup of hot coffee and a sticky, soft cinnamon roll. Don’t take our word for it.

Find out more about Ferguson’s Restaurant here.

8. Cozy up to a fire.

However much we wish the warmer days would hurry up already, sometimes the chill just hangs on. Beat the biting weather by grabbing the people you love and cozying up around a beautiful stone fireplace in one of our Buffalo River Cabins. Spring is so spectacular here in Buffalo River Country, you can’t see it all in one day. A cabin nestled in the woods is the best home base for all of your Spring Break outings.

Find out more about Buffalo River Cabins here.

9. Find a waterfall.

Now, now, now is the time to see all of the waterfalls you’ve been dreaming about! With spring rains in full swing and more on the way, don’t wait any longer! Did you know that the tallest waterfall between the Rocky Mountains and the Adirondacks can be found on the Buffalo River at Hemmed-in Hollow? And Spring is the only time to experience it at it’s best, so don’t wait.

Find your waterfall here.

10. Get your fill.

End the day with southern charm and comfort food – both are served up in heaping helpings at Big Springs Trading Co. Here you will find a smoked meat deli, a full bbq menu, provisions, gifts, and Arkansas-style hospitality. This charming, tastefully styled building is home to some of the best food found anywhere on the Buffalo National River, so whether you are packing a picnic basket or meeting up to discuss the day’s adventures, be right at home and filled to the brim at Big Springs.

Find out more about Big Springs Trading Co. here.

Spring Break is one of the very best times to experience life bursting back into the Buffalo River. And here in river country, it’s the beautiful prelude to summer that not a lot of people know about. Make your spring getaway memorable by spending here in gorgeous Buffalo River Country.

What are you waiting for? Plan your spring break escape now!

Overnight Floating on the Buffalo National River

Spring 2019 is fast approaching, and here at Buffalo River Outfitters, we are so excited to get a jump on the fresh, new season! Now is the time to plan your overnight trip on the Buffalo National River.

With the spring rains come great water levels and renewed opportunities to see all that the Buffalo River has to offer. Overnight floating is a great choice for groups big or small and Buffalo River Outfitters offers some of the best overnight rates found anywhere on the river. We can service the entire Buffalo for overnight floats, and as your Buffalo River headquarters we are centrally located to offer the best service possible to all of the spring thrill-seekers.

For overnight floating, all of our canoes and kayaks are currently $50.00 per day, per boat. Rafts are not available for overnight floats. Call for shuttle pricing and recommended trips, as the best trip can be chosen according to updated river conditions. Click here to see our overnight trip page!

Designated Campground Camping

Along the banks of the beautiful Buffalo National River there are numerous campgrounds maintained by the National Park Service. These campgrounds have varying levels of amenities, such as bathrooms, showers, drinking water, trash services, RV spots, etc. Some of the campgrounds charge per-night fees, which are subject to change according to the group size and type of camping spot needed. If you have any questions regarding designated campgrounds, call us at (870) 439-2200 or the Tyler Bend Visitor Center at (870) 439-2502. Or click here to read the Park Service page on Camping.

Here are a few more things to know:

  • When in a NPS-maintained campground, please observe the Leave No Trace principles. Keep trash confined to trash receptacles if available, or in the Park-required mesh trash bags if not. Do not dig fire pits or make fire rings. Keep fires in designated areas if available, or make small campfires and scatter the remains if not.
  • Remember when you are in a designated campground that there will be people around you and using the facilities. Please be respectful and courteous and if there are any questions or concerns that arise call the park dispatch at (888) 692-1162. If there is an emergency, call 911. All campgrounds observe quiet hours from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am. Fireworks are not permitted anywhere in the Park.
  • Some campgrounds that require fees will have self-pay stations and some will have manned fee stations. In either case, it is safest to bring exact amounts of cash to pay for your campsite. The maximum capacity per campsite is six people. Checkout time for paid campsites is 12:00 noon.
  • Use lantern hangers if available. Do not drive nails or stakes into trees or stumps.
  • Keep your pets on a leash at all times, and please clean up after them.

Primitive Camping

Primitive camping means, essentially, that you are on your own. No bathroom facilities, no running water, no trash services, no electricity. If you are planning to primitive camp along the banks of the Buffalo National River you should expect to be completely alone or with very few neighbors and pack and plan accordingly.

Since the Buffalo River is a National River it is owned, protected and maintained by the Department of the Interior. This means that there is no privately owned property along the river. The Buffalo National River corridor protected and cherished property, and should be treated with the respect a national landmark deserves. Click here to read the Leave No Trace guidelines for camping along the Buffalo National River.

Generally, anywhere you can safely pull your boat up and away from the river is available for primitive camping, with the exception of any designated National Park paid campgrounds, or half a mile on either side of any designated National Park paid campgrounds.

Primitive camping is usually necessary for those paddlers who are overnight floating on the Buffalo National River, as the designated campgrounds are scattered. Should a situation arise that throws off a group’s pre-determined timeline, it may become a necessity. For this reason, if you are planning on floating the river for multiple days, always bring what you need to primitive camp, even if you intend to reach designated campgrounds each night. It is better safe than sorry, especially where nature is involved. When primitive camping, remember never to camp against a bluff and always store your boats above your tent or sleeping site, so that if the water rises it wakes you up before it takes your boats away. Do not make stone fire rings, or dig fire pits. Always scatter fire sites and be aware of burn bans before you go.

The park service works hard to make your trip to the Buffalo as enjoyable and clean as possible so that you can focus on making memories. If you have any questions regarding designated campgrounds or overnight float trips on the river, or would like a comprehensive camping list or Buffalo National River handbook sent to you, call Buffalo River Outfitters at (870) 439-2200. We are here to help you plan your best trip, and happy paddling!

The Still Peace of Winter in Buffalo River Cabins

Here in the heart of Buffalo River country, cold weather has settled in firmly. The vibrant colors of fall have long ago faded, and the Buffalo river is still running strong, but icy cold. We here at Buffalo River Outfitters are cozied in and making big plans for 2019. Our store front is still faithfully open, providing gear and apparel all year round.

Did you know that our Buffalo River Cabins are open all year? The still, beautiful peace to be found on a chilly winter day in the Ozarks holds a magic of it’s own. Why miss out? Our fully equipped cabins have fireplaces and heaters, cozy blankets and fire pits under the stars. And with the high speed wifi available in every single one of them, you can’t go wrong. Here at Buffalo River Outfitters, cozy and connected go hand and hand.

In these cooler months, reservations for Buffalo River Cabins still need to be made well in advance. Our winter schedules fill up fast. Arrangements will be made for key pickups on check-in and check-out if you will be arriving late or during reduced staff times.

We are also taking Summer 2019 reservations left and right! The summer months of May, June and July are booking up faster than ever before, so make your reservation soon to take part in the fun. The river levels have stayed so beautifully steady through the end of 2018 and now into 2019, so we are keeping our fingers crossed that the good conditions keep up. Wondering when the best time to float the Buffalo National River is? Call us! We are here to answer every question, and help you plan your trip perfectly so all you have to do is show up.

Summer may seem so far away, but there are still so many adventures to be found in Buffalo River Country. Hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, shopping and elk watching opportunities are always here in Buffalo River Country. What are you waiting for? Make your escape.

Autumn at the Buffalo National River

The magic of the River goes on and on, and even so in Autumn.

The green-blue waters of the Buffalo National River become slower, serene. It’s as if the spirit of the water itself knew to slow down and take in the breathtaking scenery along it’s own banks. The cool air calls out the creatures that make this part of the Ozarks home. Otters, beavers, deer, birds and of course the majestic Elk all become more active in the fall air. The creatures lend even more beauty and memorable moments to this, America’s First National River.

What makes the Buffalo River stand apart from the rest? Besides the beautiful Ozark Mountain setting of the river itself, the history of the Buffalo makes it even more extraordinary. Established as the First National River by an Act of Congress in March of 1972, our river is living, moving history. The Buffalo National River is 135 miles of undammed and free flowing waters managed by the National Park Service.

Fall Color Viewing Trips on the Buffalo National River

Tyler Bend to South Maumee. This trip is 17.5 miles, making it perfect for two days in the lower water fall conditions. This stretch of the river is a much-loved classic two day float on the Buffalo National River in St. Joe, Arkansas. Starting at the National Park headquarters for the Middle Buffalo River (Tyler Bend) and ending at South Maumee is one of the most perfect trips in September and October for a secluded, easy float with plenty of towering bluffs and opportunity for wildlife sighting.

Grinder’s Ferry to Dillard’s Ferry. This trip provides a bit more mileage (25.7 miles) and ends further down in the Lower District of the Buffalo National River. There are plenty of places to stop and explore and camp on this trip. Can you picture yourself relaxing by a campfire in the foggy morning air? There’s always something to see: tall bluffs and wildlife are ever present on the banks of the mighty Buffalo River.

Welcome to Buffalo River Outfitters

Buffalo River Outfitters was established in 1986 to serve river goers with quality equipment and lodging to provide the best Buffalo River experience possible. We provide canoes and kayaks for floating the river for one day or many days. Furthermore, our expertly trained staff are here to assist, suggest and give advice for making the best of your time on the Buffalo National River. BRO stands as a headquarters for current river levels and flow information. We will suggest the best trips for the season and conditions. In addition to this, we can also answer questions about what more there is to do right in the area – hiking, swimming, horseback riding, sightseeing and more! Our location is perfect for the avid antique shopper and explorer of tiny towns. We even have an amazing drive-in movie theater just ten minutes from our cabins.

The Best Cabins in the Ozarks

buffalo national river cabin

Our eleven log cabins are beautiful, fully equipped, tastefully decorated, and perfectly located. Buffalo River Outfitter’s clean and cozy lodging is unmatched in the area. We are able to easily accommodate large groups or provide hideouts for intimate getaways. Ten of our eleven cabins have high speed internet and smart tvs. Here you can escape the city bustle but still have the ease of Netflix or news at any time. What’s not to like? Flannel and fireplaces, bonfires and starry skies, the Ozark Mountains and the Buffalo National River. These are all combinations not to be missed.

Whatever is needed, the enthusiastic crew here at Buffalo River Outfitters is here to help. Our only question is – when is your next Buffalo River adventure?

Searcy County Elk Viewing

Did you know that the Buffalo National River is home to Arkansas’ only elk herd? And right here in the heart of Buffalo River Country is where you can find large groups of our beautiful Searcy County Elk.

Where can you see Elk in Searcy County?

One of the best places to view Elk is just a few minutes from our store. Right off the southwest side of Highway 65 between our store and Marshall, Arkansas there is an open field where you can often see a large herd grazing in the distance. In this field is where Searcy County Elk make the most appearances. Woolum access on the Buffalo National River is another popular site to see Elk. In this 2018 season we have even had some sightings of Elk at our Buffalo River Cabins!

How did elk come to be here?

A sub-species of elk called Eastern Elk was originally native to the state of Arkansas. The Eastern Elk population was fully extirpated from the state by the late 1840s. They became completely extinct by the beginning of the 20th century. Elk were re-introduced to the Buffalo National River Corridor in 1981 by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The Elk Restoration Project placed 112 Rocky Mountain Elk in the Buffalo River region that year. Over 500 descendants of those animals can be found near the Buffalo River today.  

When is the best time to observe Searcy County Elk?

Mating season is usually in late September and early October. This is when the elk are most active. They can sometimes be found crossing roads and rivers, so be cautious. The best practices for viewing Searcy County Elk is to come late in the evening or early in the morning. Right in those golden hours are the best time to see these beautiful animals. 

Want to learn more about Searcy County Elk? Come to the store if you have any questions or comments about our local elk, we would love to help and listen! You can also call us at 870-439-2200, 8-6 every day. Happy Elk watching!

Beautiful Cabins in the Ozarks

Have you planned your fall getaway yet? Why not come enjoy a cabin in the Ozarks? Porch swings and rocking chairs in the fantastic Buffalo River Country are calling to you.

School is back in session for most areas, but the magic of the Buffalo National River goes on and on. There is something truly spectacular about the late summer and early autumn in the Ozarks. The air becomes slowly cooler, the pace slower. The day begins in a blanket of fog and ends under a blanket of stars. The elk roam in the golden hours and bugle in the twilight.

Our cabins book up fast, so remember to reserve your cabin with Buffalo River Outfitters soon. There’s always something to do here. Go on an easy hike to the Collier Homestead, or challenge yourself to a more strenuous climb up to the iconic Hawksbill Crag. Experience some of the best cinnamon rolls in the state right here at Ferguson’s Country Store. Watch a movie on a beautiful, mild night at the historic Kenda Drive-in. Cook a rustic meal over a happy campfire on the rocky banks of the Buffalo. Come enjoy the hazy peace that comes with the season in a cabin in the Ozarks.

And from now until October 1, use this exclusive coupon code – AUTUMN18 – to take 15% off of any weekday cabin rental (minimum of 2 nights). You must call or reserve online soon to make your cabin reservations, as availability is limited. (Discount code applies only to reservations made for the remaining months of 2018.)

As always, much love from the staff here at the river, and we can’t wait to see you!


Buffalo River Outfitters

Late Summer Float on the Buffalo

The Buffalo National River is beautiful every day of the year, and late summer is no exception. Here are a few words of advice on how to enjoy a safe float on the Buffalo National River in the hazy, late days of summer.

Summer is a time for heat, which can mean trouble to an unprepared river goer. This can cut a late summer float short at the very least and possibly threaten the health and welfare of any unprotected person. That’s why it is so important to know the conditions and come prepared.

Temperatures in Northwest Arkansas can often reach the upper nineties. This, combined with humidity and the intense summer sun can cause your otherwise beautiful float to be cut short.

Sun Protection.

Always bring sunscreen to the Buffalo National River, especially when floating. The direct sunlight reflected off of the river’s shiny surface can double your exposure to harmful UV rays. If you enjoy a swim, consider purchasing waterproof sunscreen or reapply liberally. When applying sunscreen, do not forget the sensitive skin on the top of your foot, and attend areas like shoulders and the tops of your thighs with special consideration. Additional protection, such as a sunhat or a protective shirt with sleeves are all very good decisions.


If you are going on a longer float, remember to take frequent breaks and remind everyone in your group to drink water liberally. If you and your adult group decide to imbibe while on the Buffalo National River, we ask you to do so responsibly. Remember to drink water in between alcoholic drinks, as alcohol will dehydrate you quickly. Drinking water while enjoying alcoholic beverages protects against overindulgence, dehydration, heat stroke, and a nasty hangover.


In July and August, the river levels begin to get a little low, meaning that the water will be slow moving and there will possibly be areas where you have to get out and drag your boat for a short time. So keep this in mind when considering footwear for your late summer float – Chacos, strap sandals or any sturdy shoe that can be worn in the water will work quite well. Also, you will be working a little harder to move along in the water, so consider that when packing and maybe bring more snacks and water than you generally would. 

If you do end up with a sunburn, (it happens a lot) come in to our store after your float. We always have ice-cold air conditioning, cold water, and sunburn gel for sale. Please try to be careful this summer floating season. Keep your adventures safe and enjoyable by respecting mother nature’s power and protecting yourself against the heat!

As always, our phone lines are open to questions, and we will do our best to provide you with great advice and tips for your Buffalo River Adventure! Call us today! (870) 439-2200 Or drop us an email by filling out a contact form. Happy floating!

Food on the Buffalo National River

Summer is a fast-approaching reality for us here at Buffalo River Outfitters. A lot of people are planning their floating adventures on the Buffalo National River for 2018. Food on the Buffalo National River can be tricky to plan. We are here to help!

Are you wondering what food or foods are easy, quick and work well for a group or individual to bring on their trip to the river? And it’s a good question! There are rules and regulations for containers for food and beverages. Some kinds of foods just work better for grab and go and limited adventure interruption.

Buffalo River Outfitters does not currently provide catered or prepackaged meals for river goers. However, we do sell snack-like food and candy from our storefront. If you are looking forward to a picnic it’s best to plan ahead and pack along what you will need for your meal.

Here are some tips and ideas for what to bring:


Sandwiches made ahead of time and stored in plastic baggies are classic and perfect for river trips. Make sure you have your park-approved trash receptacle on board for the plastic and trash.The red mesh bag we provide for customers is what you are required to have with you.

Finger Food on the Buffalo National River

It’s best to prepare any finger food ahead of time to avoid any unnecessary steps or bulky knives and cutting boards. Obviously, having everything ready to go makes snacking fast and enjoyable. You can bring these and any other foods in zipper-style plastic bags or seal-able containers. Always remember that glass is prohibited on the Buffalo National River. Also, any trash from food on the Buffalo National River must immediately be placed in a trash receptacle.

As a general rule, anything that requires silverware or dishes is going to slow you down. Dishes will also raise the possibility of something being left behind to harm animals or pollute the river. Keeping things simple, quick and trash-free as possible not only protects our beautiful Buffalo River, but also makes sure you have the best uninterrupted adventure.

If you decide to drink alcohol while on the Buffalo National River, we ask you to do so responsibly. Alcohol can and will dehydrate you quickly. It is against river regulation to have any type of glass on the Buffalo National River. Additionally, aluminum cans must be in a float-able container such as a koozie. Remember, drink a lot of water while enjoying alcoholic beverages to protect against overindulgence, dehydration, heat stroke, and a nasty hangover.

If you would like to enjoy a meal at a local restaurant before or after your float, here are some nearby favorites:

St. Joe (5-7 min from our store)

Marshall (15-20 min from our store)

As always, our phone lines are open if you have questions concerning food on the Buffalo National River. We are happy to help you plan your next adventure!

Hiking on the Middle Buffalo River

Summer may be over for now, but the Middle Buffalo River still has plenty to offer! Our area of the Buffalo National River is always ready to host groups big or small for an outdoor experience to remember. The trails on the middle district are perfect for all hikers. From scenic river overlooks to historical landmarks, there is so much to explore here in the Middle District of the Buffalo River.

middle buffalo river

Where to start on the Middle Buffalo River?

The best place to start a hiking adventure in the middle district is at the Tyler Bend Visitor Center. The Tyler Bend Visitor Center is located just a few minutes from the Buffalo River Outfitters Store. The people and literature at the Visitor Center can give you a great starting point for your hiking plans. The most popular trail heads are all quite close to this central location.

Easy to Moderate Trails!

All of the hikes in our district of the river are rated easy to moderate – so it’s perfect for beginners or families. The trails interconnect as well, making it easy to pick a trip that is the perfect length for you or your group. The connected trails also allow for looping trails, so that there is no backtracking to get to your camp or vehicle.

The Tyler Bend area also provides campgrounds, a pavilion and picnic area, and toilet and shower facilities maintained by the National Park, making it a great place to visit year-round.

As always before coming to the Middle Buffalo River, you can call or email our office to get a feel of what is going on in the area.

We can provide weather, fall color updates, and any other area information you might like to know before making the drive. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have!

Click here for a printout of information and a helpful map of the Tyler Bend Hiking Trails.

Happy Hiking!