Today I’ve got a guest writer. Megan Rolland is a co-worker of mine, and like me, she loves spending time outside and enjoying it with friends. On a recent outing, she did some canoeing and camping in Arkansas. Check out her trip report and pics. And remember, if you go somewhere and would like to tell people about your adventures, e-mail me a write-up and some photographs.
Buffalo River canoeing and camping trip
A weekend camping trip on the Buffalo National River in Arkansas offers dramatic views of the Ozark Mountains, clear green water, cliff jumping, waterfalls and hordes of people.
The weekend after Memorial Day proved to be a busy time of year for the river as our group of eight people in four canoes shoved off Saturday morning at the same time as what felt like every church group within a 200-mile radius.
Although we battled a traffic jam of canoes for the first five miles of the river and I saw more beer-bongs than I did wildlife, the beauty of the river was still inspiring.
The seasoned Buffalo River campers who hosted the trip said the upper part of the river is a more technical float with some actual rapids and narrow channels; however, the water was low this June so we started lower on the river at the Pruitt Landing drop.
Still, we had to pull the canoes over a few low-water points.
Canoeing into a campsite runs the risk of being wet and miserable for two days if the canoe tips, but fortunately our group only suffered one tip on the first day and most everything was in dry bags.
Dry bags are essential for those planning overnight camping trips on a river. I’ve been with campers using them twice now, once for an overnight in the Georgia Okefenokee Swamp and again for this trip. The bags can be fully submerged and not leak a drop.
We ate lunch on a sandbar and spent part of the afternoon jumping off a cliff into the cool water. We finished up the day about 7 miles from our starting point.
Camping is permitted anywhere along the river for free or in any of the federally run campsites for a fee. We chose a rocky bank on the river as a campsite. The fireflies provided a night display worthy of mention.
On Day 2, we paddled about 8 miles and enjoyed an almost empty river.
The day started with a river otter sighting on the opposite shore and we spotted several blue herrings and a couple hawks throughout the afternoon.
We survived a harrowing drive out of the canyon and back to the town of Jasper where we had rented our canoes for the trip. It took us five hours to drive home, putting us back in Oklahoma City at midnight, but the trip was well worth it.
– Megan Rolland