Understanding the Buffalo National River

New visitors to the Buffalo National River must learn some basic terminology to figure out what locals are talking about. This is your quick guide to the Buffalo National River:

First, the river is usually described as either having two or three sections. These divisions are made using the river access points as boundaries. These breakdowns are needed to describe a park that is about 150 miles long.

Three Section Breakdown (used on this web site)
The three section breakdown is termed Upper River, Middle River, and Lower River. The Upper River Area again goes to the Carver Access. The Middle River Area is from the Carver Access to Gilbert (Grinder's Ferry & Tyler Bend). The Lower River is from Gilbert et al to the Buffalo City where the Buffalo River joins the White River.

On this web site, we use the three section breakdown because it best describes the natural geographic divisions, and the roads and towns, and the way that the park service organizes it programs.

NPS Ranger Facilities
The National Park Service has three facilities on the Buffalo National River, on at Pruitt Landing (off Highway 7 near Jasper), a second at Tyler Bend (off Highway 65 near Marshall), and a third at Buffalo Point (off Highway 14 near Yelleville).

Two Section Breakdown (also commonly used)
The two section breakdown refers to the Upper Buffalo River (west end) and the Lower Buffalo River (east end). The Upper Buffalo River is considered to be from the source in Newton County to the Carver Access.  The Lower Buffalo River is from the Carver Access to Buffalo City where the Buffalo River joins the White River.

More Differences
The Buffalo National River flows from its source in the Boston Mountains (on the west end) and heads through two plateau formations on its way to join the White River at Buffalo City (on the east end).

The Upper River is very wild, and the uppermost portion of it, from the source of the Buffalo National River to the Boxley Bridge is called the "Hailstone".  The "Hailstone" flows through the Upper Buffalo Wilderness under the shared jurisdiction of the Forest Service and the National Park Service. Extreme floaters and kyackers run the Hailstone during high water.
The upper river area is not floatable year round.

The middle and lower river areas are generally floatable year round. They are also deeper and more placid, but no less scenic. The best fishing on the river begins in the middle river area and extends to the confluence with the White River. Trout run in the Buffalo River all the way to Rush Landing.

Four Wilderness Areas & One Wildlife Management Area
There are four federal wilderness areas along the Buffalo National River and one very large wildlife management area (AGFC)..

In the upper river area there is the Upper Buffalo Wilderness (NPS & NFS), and the Ponca Wilderness (NPS). In the middle river area the Gene Rush Wildlife Management Area (AGFC) borders the river. In the lower river, the Lower Buffalo Wilderness (NPS) adjoins the Leatherwood Wilderness (NFS). These last two combined form the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states.
Kyakers on the Buffalo National River
Kids Love to Explore Buffalo National River
Floating the Buffalo Near Pruitt Landing
Kids Exploring the Buffalo River