Last week was the beginning of the Buffalo River's floating season. It's hard to believe because it's still so cold outside, but when we first started looking into the Buffalo River we were told the earlier you go the better because the water levels are higher. Tons of my beauties from the hair salon have been going for years and they would go on and on about how much fun they had. I'm some what of an indoorsy kind of girl, so I was a little nervous, but I had the BEST time. As always, I tried to make the very most of our trip which means a few detours and planned eating stops. So if you are a newbie and have been wanting to go here's what we did for our first trip!
Planning Your Trip
The further west or northwest you go the lower the water levels get the further into the season you get. You can check the water levels online. We had several people suggest Gilbert, Arkansas because they say that you can float that part of the river year round. The water levels are normally always high enough. We chose to go the first week of June. We rented an airbnb in the area and Gilbert ended up being the perfect place because it's a dot on a map with three roads and no stop lights. Its easy to get around and the airbnb was only about 3 minutes from the Gilbert store where we rented our kayaks. We were driving from Memphis, so I planned out our route and made a detour for Mirror Lake which has a gorgeous waterfall. We took a ton of pictures before continuing to our cabin. A big chunk of the trip we didn't have cell service so that is something to consider.
We continued through Mountain View and stopped at the cutest country store that sold jams and local goods.
We chose to head down on a Thursday giving us Friday and Saturday to float and then everyone could head back on Sunday. We ended up getting into Gilbert Thursday afternoon.
Then, we stopped at the store to confirm our kayak rentals. We called ahead to reserve them. You MUST call ahead. Friday they had extras, but Saturday they were completely booked already. We called about two weeks ahead of time. Adam and I had a tandem kayak, but my brother and Cameron had their own. It didn't matter which one you were on, we all took small personal coolers for the day filled with drinks and sandwiches. You want to be the first ones there in the morning so you dont have to wait on the bus or there isn't a huge line in front of you. Saturday after a day on the river we showed up late and ended up waiting 30-45 minutes before even getting on the bus. It wasn't bad, just something to be aware of.
This is the store where we rented our kayaks. It was extremely easy. You just show up, get on a bus, 30 minutes later you are at a launch site and the kayaks are already there and waiting. It had rained the week before we went, so the water levels were very high and the water moved fast. We started at 7 or 8 and were done around 2 or 3. The next day the water levels had lowered a bit and we started around 9 and finished around 4 or 5. We had the best time. It was as simple as showing up having a good time, then going home to the airbnb to cook out. Something to note is that there are no grocery stores or stores in general anywhere close. There is a dollar tree 30 minutes away and a liquor store an hour away. We all brought Yetis full of food and had plenty for the weekend. I think the best part of this trip was that everyone enjoyed it. It was easy and could be done in a weekend. The cliffs were beautiful and it was extremely relaxing. Apparently if you go further north the cliffs are even bigger and they claim its even prettier. We haven't found out for ourselves yet, but I will let you know as soon as we do. :)