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-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.
DOWNLOAD A FLOAT TRIP MAP
Please note that on Saturdays in May, outfitters are required to launch 2 miles downriver at Steel Creek. Private boaters, however, may launch in Ponca on Saturdays during those months, water level permitting.
Steel Creek to Kyle’s Landing (8 miles)
When river conditions are too low to launch in Ponca, we move 2 miles downriver to the Steel Creek launch (10 minutes from Ponca on Hwy. 74) where you’ll canoe 8 miles to Kyle’s Landing.
Pruitt to Hasty (7 miles)
When upper Buffalo National River conditions are too low to canoe from Steel Creek, we then move 24 miles downriver to the Pruitt launch (on Hwy. 7, about 5 miles north of Jasper), where you’ll canoe about 8 miles to Hasty. The day-trip float on this section of river takes about 4 or 5 hours to complete. From a scenery standpoint, this is the second prettiest section of Buffalo National River with many nice bluffs featured along the way.
Launch Times for Either Section
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.
Boat Rental Contract & Risk Agreement
BE AWARE: 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 wilderness surroundings.
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.
Your Opinion Matters
After visiting the Buffalo National River and being served by Buffalo Outdoor Center, we encourage you to share your experience with the National Park Service / Buffalo National River Headquarters via a special comment form. It's a great way to:
- Make suggestions for park improvements
- Share things in particular you enjoyed about the park
- Share your thoughts about the canoe rental / shuttle services you received from BOC
Simply click on this link to open a PDF of the form: . Then, fax, email or mail it back to the National Park Service / Buffalo National River Headquarters (contact information is provided on the form). Each form is personally reviewed by the park superintendent, so it's a great way to directly share your thoughts with park leadership!