Would you like to know where you can find solitude on the Buffalo River? The answer may surprise you. It's the lower river.
Of course, there may be places and times of the year when you can have a spot on the river all to yourself anywhere along its length, but the popularity of spring floating season almost guarantees you'll share with many others when the water is good.
But, on the lower river, there are long stretches both above and below the popular visitor center at Buffalo Point that give you a chance to really get away from it all, even from everybody. In fact, below Buffalo Point there's a 30 mile stretch of river down to Buffalo City that has only a single take-out point.
The river is wider, deeper here. There's just more water on this lower end and there are a lot of big, long holes. But the scenery is a constant on the 150 miles of the Buffalo's length. If you think you've floated the upper river and seen all the big bluffs, think again. Some of the most massive and most photographed bluffs of the Buffalo are down here on the lower end.
Did you know that 70 percent of the visitation on the river is on 30 percent of its length? The most intensive canoe use is Memorial Day weekend on the stretch from Ponca to Pruitt. In July and August, heavy use can occur from Buffalo Point to Rush. Avoid crowds by choosing weekdays for high use areas or floating other stretches of the river. After all, most of the time, 70 percent of the river is standing out there undisturbed!
Obviously, with the kind of scenery and space available on the lower river, hiking is a natural. Figuring in rest stops, most hikers make 6-8 miles per day, so plan your walk with that measure in mind. Many of the Buffalo River trails are marked with blazes on trees, white for walkers only, yellow for sharing with horses.
Speaking of which, riders can use old roads, gravel bars and old traces, as well as marked trails, but off-trail riding and riding on trails posted for hiking only is a no-no.
The lower river has historic significance as well. The old mining town of Rush recalls 1800s zinc mining on the river and the Buffalo River State Park Historic District features Civilian Conservation Corps constructed buildings, roads, walls, and lodge from the 1930s.
Like the other two sections of the river, the lower river offers evening programs to entertain and inform. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, you can meet with other visitors and a park ranger in the Buffalo Point Amphitheater any evening for a program on river history, natural wonders, national parks and more.
Ask, too, about the Artist-In-Residence program wherever you are on the river. Professional performing or visual artists are invited to spend a three week residency on the river and may be demonstrating their work through a program or workshop.