Buffalo River National Park is one of the most beautiful recreation-filled spots in Northwest Arkansas. Just north of the Ozark National Forest, this park follows the meanders of the 150-mile-long Buffalo National River, one of the few undammed rivers in the continental United States and the country’s first national river.
“Floating the river” is perhaps the most popular activity in the park. Visitors enjoy forest-covered limestone bluffs as they cruise downstream in canoe, kayak or tube. Those floating the river often come across sandbars and pools perfect for swimming. While most of the river is smooth, several areas feature rapids for those seeking a challenge.
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There are over 100 miles of hiking trails all around the Buffalo. Scenic views abound atop the bluffs that overlook the river. Caves, sinkholes and waterfalls are yet another draw. Wildlife in the park ranges from bears and bobcats to beavers and minks, all of which have been seen while hiking. Many hikers see herds of elk that stop to drink from the river. Some trails allow horseback riding. Others lead to peaceful riverside camping locations.
While fishing from a canoe remains popular, the depth of the river lends perfectly to those wishing to wade in and fly-fish. The river is filled with smallmouth bass while Kentuckies, largemouth bass and catfish also inhabit the shallow waters.
The Buffalo Outdoor Center offers another way to enjoy the forest canopy on its two-hour Buffalo River Zip Line Canopy Tour. Arkansas’s premier wilderness zip line tour allows participants to zip to and from platforms built right in the trees. The park also has a new attraction—the Big ol’ Swing. The swing offers the same degree of excitement as the zip line, but without the two-hour time commitment.
The Buffalo River area is littered with history, both prehistoric archeological history, and history dating back to the Native Americans and early settlers. Ghost towns and American Indian caves can be found up and down the river. Several stops show the history of logging and mining.
For more information on Buffalo River National Park, visit http://www.nps.gov/buff.
About the Author
Daniel Morrill is a senior Media Writing major at Taylor University in Upland, IN. He started working at Premier Travel Media in May of 2012 as an Editorial Intern and contributes religious group travel articles, destination features and sports content for the company’s Leisure Group Travel Magazine as well as the InSite on Religious Group Travel and InSite on Sports websites.