Weekend Getaway: Lower District

We paddle downriver with a steep gravel bar on our left and a streaked bluff on our right.
Paddling toward Painted Bluff at Buffalo Point.

Shannon Welch

Day 1: Paddling and Camping

Paddle Dillard's Ferry to Rush (9 miles)

This all day float trip offers some great fishing holes between Buffalo Point and Rush, where the pools get long and the current typically slows in the summer time. You have the option at stopping at Buffalo Point, which is 1.5 miles from Dillard's Ferry to admire Painted Bluff and Ludlow Bluff further downstream, which is actually the tallest bluff on the river (sorry, Big Bluff).

You will want to be sure that you don't miss the Rush Landing because the next access point isn't for another 25 miles at Buffalo City. Shuttle time between Dillard's Ferry and Rush is 15 minutes (9 miles).

Camp Out
If you'd like to camp in the park during a peak season weekend, you should either plan to arrive on Friday afternoon/evening or reserve a campsite online. In the Lower District, Buffalo Point Campground offers advance reservations through www.recreation.gov. All other camping areas in the district are first come, first served. Click here for more information about camping in the Lower District.

A ranger speaks to a large group of hikers beneath a bluff shelter.
A ranger speaks to a large group of hikers sitting inside the Indian Rockhouse.

Terra Fondriest

Day 2: Hiking and Sightseeing

Visit the Buffalo Point Ranger Station
To start your day, stop by the Buffalo Point Ranger Station, which is open Thursday through Monday from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM. The ranger station features a small theater displaying the park documentary, interpretive exhibits, a small bookstore/gift shop, and an information desk staffed by National Park Service rangers. Drop in for information about the area or for assistance in planning your next visit!

Hike the Indian Rockhouse Trail (3.5 miles)

One of the most popular hikes in the state of Arkansas, the Indian Rockhouse Trail meanders past a sinkhole, waterfall, mine prospect, Panther Creek, sculpted bedrock and a quarry. Many of these geologic features are typical of a karst landscape.

People have been visiting this bluff shelter as far back as 7,000 BC. Coming to the attention of the Carnegie Institute, excavations were carried out in the 1930s, revealing an array of stone tools, basketry, and food remains. The site has been protected from all excavation and collection since becoming part of Buffalo National River in 1972 so that the remains of this unique site can be preserved for future generations.

The Indian Rockhouse is a moderate to strenuous trail with steep inclines/declines. Pets are not permitted on this trail. Click here for more information about the hike.

Cool off at Buffalo Point
Whether you take a swim, sunbathe, have a picnic, or go fishing, the scenery at Buffalo Point Swimming Beach will take your breath away. Drive down to Buffalo Point Campground and park at the day use access between the A and B loops. A deep pool is overshadowed by elegant Painted Bluff, one of the most iconic blufflines on the Buffalo River. A small picnic area overlooks the river. This is an outstanding spot to enjoy the hottest part of a summer day.

Tour Rush Historic District
Coined as "The Town that Zinc Built," Rush is now a ghost town of abandoned buildings and mining relics that tell tales of industry in the Ozarks dating back to World War I. Take a drive through, hike the short Morning Star Interpretive Trail, or stick around awhile to explore the Rush Mine Level Trail. Click here for more information about trails at Rush Historic District.

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Last updated: August 21, 2021

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