Visitors to public lands are urged to practice Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics in order to protect our shared outdoor spaces for future generations to enjoy. Even if you're unfamiliar with the concept of Leave No Trace, you've probably practiced it before without realizing. In short, always strive to "leave it better than you found it."
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles provide guidance to enjoy our natural world in a responsible way that minimizes human-created impacts. The principles have been adapted so they can be applied in your backyard or the backcountry. Click a principle below to learn how to apply it to your visit to Buffalo National River!
Keep scrolling for more information about each principle and how it applies specifically to your experience at Buffalo National River. Thank you for taking the time to research your adventure and recreate responsibly!
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.
Principle #1 is Plan Ahead and Prepare. Lauren and Nathan explain the basics of planning and preparing for a day hike and a float trip.
4 minutes, 53 seconds
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.
Nathan and Lauren hit the Buffalo River Trail to discuss the importance of Leave No Trace Principle #2: Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces.
3 minutes, 57 seconds
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
If you pack it in, pack it out!
Always pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
In non-developed areas, solid human waste must be: deposited in fixtures provided for that purpose; buried in a cathole 6”to 8” deep and at least 200’ from water, camp, and trails; packed out in a disposable biodegradable bag toilet system approved for landfill disposal (WAG bag or similar system); or packed out in a self-contained washable, leak-proof, reusable toilet system.
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.
From Cob Cave on the Lost Valley Trail to the historic Boxley Grist Mill and beyond, it's imperative to preserve our natural and cultural resources by practicing Leave No Trace Principle #4: Leave What You Find.
2 minutes, 22 seconds
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.
In this video, Nathan and Lauren discuss the importance of minimizing campfire impacts to protect ourselves and our public lands.
2 minutes, 50 seconds
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.