Leave No Trace

A canoeist paddles the river near Maumee Access.
A canoeist paddles downriver near Maumee Access.

D. Sullivan/NPS

Outdoor Ethics for Buffalo National River

The Leave No Trace Seven Principles are the bedrock of the Leave No Trace program. They provide guidance to enjoy our natural world in a sustainable way that avoids human-created impacts. The principles have been adapted so they can be applied in your backyard or your backcountry. More information at www.lnt.org/

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Know before you go. Check the weather forecast and water levels before your trip. Stay updated on changing river conditions at ar.water.usgs.gov/buffaloriver. River levels greater than the indicated levels are unsafe:
    • Ponca gage: 2070 cfs
    • Pruitt/Hwy. 7 gage: 2000 cfs
    • Grinder’s Ferry/Hwy. 65 gage: 8000 cfs
    • Dillard’s Ferry/Hwy. 14 gage: 9370 cfs
  • Watch the weather closely during your trip. Upstream thunderstorms can cause the river to rise rapidly.
  • Use a detailed topographic map to plan your trip.
  • Be prepared with all necessary skills, gear, and equipment to have a safe and enjoyable time.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • When in the frontcountry, camp in designated campsites. When in the backcountry, find a site that is at least ½ mile away from a trailhead, road, or other high-use area. Whenever possible, choose existing sites where vegetation is absent.
  • If you camp on a gravel bar along the river, be mindful of flood potential and plan an escape route. Overnight storms can warrant an emergency evacuation to higher ground.
  • When hiking, walk single file down center of trail (even when muddy) to protect vegetation and prevent soil erosion.
  • Always leave your campsite cleaner than when you arrived.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

  • If you pack it in, pack it out!
  • When applicable, use a portable camping toilet to pack out human waste, toilet paper, and hygiene products.
  • In the backcountry, deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished, and pack out all toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • Most of the littering that takes place at Buffalo National River is done accidentally when a canoe tips over and its contents wash downstream. To prevent accidental littering, fasten cooler lids and secure all belongings to your boat while paddling.
  • Do not throw trash into river, on land, or leave at campsite. Carry it out with you.
Hikers at Lost Valley
Hikers enjoy a rainy day on the trail.

T. Fondriest/NPS

4. Leave What You Find

  • Appreciate historical structures like homesteads, cemeteries, and mines by leaving them undisturbed. Observe, but do not touch cultural or historic artifacts.
  • Do not build rock cairns, dig trenches, or carve into bluffs, tree trunks, or structures. Leave natural and historical areas exactly as they were when you arrived.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Know current fire conditions including local burn bans before you go.
  • Use a camp stove for cooking and use existing fire rings for campfires. When camping in the backcountry, disassemble fire rings and disperse ashes before vacating your campsite.
  • To prevent the spread of tree-killing insects and diseases, do not transport firewood into the park from other areas. Collect dead and down wood around your campsite or purchase firewood from a local outfitter.
  • Burn all wood to coals and ash. Extinguish fires completely with water. Never burn trash.

6. Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Never follow or approach them.
  • Never feed wildlife; store your food and trash securely in a locking container. When camping in the backcountry, store the locking food container away from your campsite.
  • Pets are permitted only in specific areas of the Buffalo. Please know and comply with park regulations by reviewing www.nps.gov/buff/planyourvisit/pets.htm. In permitted areas, keep pets on a leash and pack out their waste.
  • Be especially considerate of wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or hibernation.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Minimize your group size to prevent unnecessary noise and resource impact, particularly in designated wilderness areas.
  • Be aware that hunting is permitted at Buffalo National River. During hunting season, notify hunters of your presence by wearing bright orange clothing.
  • Let nature’s sights and sounds prevail.

Last updated: December 10, 2017

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Harrison, AR 72601


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