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Travel 0

Five favorite floating spots near Northwest Arkansas


All photos: Trent Sugg and Ben Matthews

Spring has sprung and in the Ozarks, that means its time to find your way to some water.

Lucky for us, Northwest Arkansas is surrounded by a number of not only world class, but exceptionally beautiful rivers that are accessible to floaters of all experience levels.

Below, we have outlined our five favorites to hit with friends and family as April showers generate ideal conditions for weekends full of whirls, waves, and white waters.

Buffalo River

The Buffalo River is without a doubt the natural treasure of the Ozarks. It holds the title at the United State’s first National River, and beautiful as it is, it’s easy to see why the US government wanted to designate it as such and protect its wonder.

This 150-mile stretch of riverway is awe-inspiring at every turn, leaving the water wanderer ample opportunity to take in nature’s beauty in a variety of forms. The bluff-scapes seen throughout are of iconic status, but it is fair to say that the soft beaches, active wildlife, and inviting caves and tributaries equally contribute the character of the river. There is a certain richness to this river, and it perhaps because of this that it was considered sacred to the Native American Indians who inhabited the lands along it years ago.

The Buffalo River is broken into three distinct sections: the Upper River, Middle River, and Lower Wilderness. Each section offers something different to travelers. The Upper River is the most wild, active and publically accessible section of the Buffalo, with multiple access points for put-in, river camping, and equipment. The river widens and deepens as it head East, create an increasingly relaxing experience.

Quality fishing begins in the Middle River and continues all the way through until the Buffalo confluences with the White River at the end of the Lower Buffalo Wilderness. Those looking for a great escape should venture into the less travelled but equally beautifully Lower Buffalo Wilderness section for a truly remote experience.

For more information on the Buffalo River, campgrounds, and river levels, visit nps.gov.

To show your support for the Buffalo, visit buffaloriverfoundation.org.

Mulberry River

The Mulberry River is another incredible river floating destination for Fayettevillians looking for a trip closer than the Buffalo.

The Mulberry offer 40 miles of quality, technical (read: action-filled) floating, with rope swings and scenic spots throughout. The river is not spring fed, so its float-ability is highly contingent on recent rainfall. Before floating, be sure to monitor its water levels here.

Before or after putting out, be sure to visit the fine folk at Turner Bend Outfitters, who are known for greeting their visitors with a friendly rest stop, detailed information, and quality eats.

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Devin O'Dea (@devinthe_____) is an outdoor adventurer, yogi, and the co-owner of Fayetteville-based outdoor culture company, Fayettechill.

Read more stories by Devin O'Dea

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