Buffalo National River Wilderness
Opportunities exist for canoeing, hiking, and horseback riding in the three wilderness units. There are no maintained trails in the Upper Buffalo unit. The Ponca unit has an extensive network of maintained trails and primitive routes. The Lower Buffalo unit has an extensive network of primitive routes, and one maintained loop trail. Some of the caves within Wilderness are closed for part or all of the year to protect endangered bats or sensitive cave features. The Ponca and Lower Buffalo units have extensive abandoned underground mine workings. Because of their instability, all of the abandoned mines within the park are closed to visitation.
Climate and Special Equipment Needs
The climate in north Arkansas is quite variable. In winter temperatures typically reach lows in the teens, with below zero weather being uncommon. Summer temperatures are typically in the 90's with temperatures over 100F being fairly common. Humidity can always be expected to be high in the spring and summer. Ticks, chiggers, and mosquitos are also fairly common in the warmer months, but ticks can be found during any month.
Safety and Current Conditions
All caves and mines in the wilderness areas are closed to entry. This is to prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome to the bats that inhabit these features, and to protect visitors from the hazards associated with abandoned mines. The January 2009 ice storm caused a great deal of damage to the forest in the park. Extra care should be taken in travelling and especially when setting up camp as many large hanging limbs still exist in the canopy and may come down at any time. The park is open to hunting, be aware of current hunting seasons (http://www.agfc.com/) Weather is highly variable. Current and forecast weather can be accessed from numerous internet weather sites. Zip code 72636 is centrally located. River levels can be accessed from the park website (http://www.nps.gov/buff) For current information, contact the park headquarters at 870-365-2700.