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Activities for families near Buffalo National River

by Kristen

Buffalo National River, in Northwest Arkansas, is known for its beautiful scenery, outdoor recreation, charming cabins, hiking, caves, and dark sky viewing.   Buffalo National River is America’s first national river.  

Outdoor recreation near Buffalo National River.

  1. Lost Valley Trail: Lost Valley Trail is the most popular hike in Arkansas and a relatively easy trail suitable for families with children. It features a stunning cave, waterfalls, and lush vegetation. Kids will love exploring the cave and the picturesque landscape.
  2. Ponca to Steel Creek: This scenic and easy hike along the Buffalo River is great for families. The trail offers beautiful river views and opportunities for picnicking and skipping stones along the riverbank.

       3. . Tyler Bend Visitor Center: Start your visit at the Tyler Bend Visitor Center, where you can get maps and plan your day. And learn about the park’s history. There are often kid-friendly programs and hikes to explore here.

      4. Roark Bluff Trail: This is another family-friendly hike, with a relatively short and easy trail that leads to a beautiful bluff overlooking the Buffalo River. It’s a great spot for a family picnic.

      5. Canoeing, Floaring, Paddling, or Kayaking: The Buffalo National River is famous for its canoeing and floating opportunities. While these activities might be more suitable for older kids, families can enjoy gentle float trips on calmer sections of the river.

     6. Pruitt Landing: This area has easy access to the river and is a popular spot for picnicking, swimming, and playing in the water. The shallow sections of the river are safe for kids to wade in.

       7. Cotter Trout Dock: If your family enjoys fishing, consider visiting the Cotter Trout Dock, where you can rent fishing gear and try catching some trout in the nearby White River.

  1. Harrison, Arkansas:

    • Mystic Caverns: Explore underground formations and take guided tours of the Mystic Caverns and Crystal Dome Caverns.
    • Boone County Heritage Museum: Learn about the area’s history through exhibits and artifacts.
  2. Marshall, Arkansas:

    • Searcy County Historical Society Museum: Discover the local history and culture through exhibits showcasing artifacts, photographs, and documents.
    • The Y Store: A charming general store known for its homemade ice cream.
  3. Jasper, Arkansas:

    • Arkansas Grand Canyon: Take in breathtaking views of the scenic Boxley Valley and the Buffalo River from various vantage points.
    • Ozark Cafe: A popular local eatery serving American comfort food.
  4. Ponca, Arkansas:

    • Ponca Elk Education Center: Learn about the elk population in the area through educational displays and videos.
    • Ponca Elk Grill: Grab a bite to eat in this small but friendly restaurant.
  5. Gilbert, Arkansas:

    • Buffalo River Outfitters: Rent canoe kayaks or take guided river tours for an adventure on the Buffalo River.
    • Ozark Cafe and Smokehouse: Enjoy barbecue and comfort food in this quaint town.
  6. Yellville, Arkansas:

    • Yellville’s Turkey Trot Festival (seasonal): If you’re visiting in October, don’t miss this famous annual festival celebrating the wild turkey.
    • Yellville Historical and Scenic District: Stroll through the town’s historic district and enjoy its scenic beauty.
  7. Mountain Home, Arkansas:

    • Bull Shoals-White River State Park: Explore this nearby state park for fishing, boating, and hiking opportunities.
    • Norfork Lake: Enjoy water sports, swimming, and fishing on this beautiful lake.
  8. Eureka Springs, Arkansas (a bit farther from Buffalo National River):

    • Thorncrown Chapel: Visit this iconic glass chapel set in the woods.
    • Historic Downtown: Explore the charming, historic downtown area with unique shops, galleries, and restaurants.
    • Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge: See rescued big cats and other exotic animals.

Here are a few things to know before your visit:

Permits and Fees:

  • Some activities at Buffalo National River, such as camping, require permits and may have associated fees.
  • Check the National Park Service’s official website for the most up-to-date information on permits and fees.

Wildlife and Safety:

  • Buffalo National River is home to diverse wildlife, including black bears, deer, and various bird species.
  • Practice proper wildlife etiquette, which includes observing animals from a safe distance and not feeding them.

River Conditions:

  • Be aware of current river conditions, especially if you plan to float or paddle the river. Water levels can vary depending on the season and recent rainfall.

Cell Service:

  • Cell phone reception can be limited in some areas of the park. It’s a good idea to have a backup communication plan if needed.

Did you visit Buffalo National River for your family vacation?  What did you visit?  I would love to hear from you if you visited any places I enjoyed with my family.  Please comment below this blog post or tag me on social media and let me know how your trip went!  You can find me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.




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Jadon Hardy April 3, 2021 - 4:07 pm

Wow what a beautiful place!

Dawn Keenan March 31, 2021 - 7:29 pm

Little bites are the perfect thing to pack for an outdoor adventure! I loved your pictures!

Neiddy Ruiz March 31, 2021 - 2:36 am

My family enjoys snacking on little bites. The blueberry muffins are our fave. Thanks for the chance to win

Michelle J. March 30, 2021 - 5:34 pm

I’m crossing my fingers!

Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids March 30, 2021 - 2:42 pm

My kids love their muffins but we’ve never tried their cookies! Snacks are a must for any family adventure!

Mendy Dinsmore March 30, 2021 - 2:39 am

I love the Buffalo River area. It is so scenic. Lots of great memories over the years.

Suebrina Sousa March 30, 2021 - 2:11 am

Love Little Bites! Especially on the go!

Rosie March 29, 2021 - 11:37 pm

I have to admit I’ve not heard of any of these nice places, but wow, I’d love to take a trip! And a tasty and convenient snack would be some of these Entenmann’s bites!

Katelyn Shaver March 25, 2021 - 10:44 pm

This sounds awesome. Maybe a good spot to go with the girls are a little older and Zach snd I love hiking. Also totslly checking out the cookies next time I go shopping 🤣


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