Weekend Getaway: Middle District

Two distant kayakers paddle around the left side of Arnold Island.
Two kayakers paddle around the left side of Arnold Island.


Day 1: Paddling and Camping

Float Baker Ford to Gilbert (9.7 miles)

Arnold Island, the largest island in the river, is about 1.5 miles downstream from Baker Ford. The channel changes with every flood, so take a look on both sides of the island before deciding how to get around it. Calf Creek enters the river .5 mile upstream of Tyler Bend and the river makes a left turn here. The Tyler Bend access is on river right. This is a great spot to stop for lunch at a shaded picnic table near the pavilion.

Notable features between Tyler Bend and Gilbert are Grinder's Ferry/Hwy. 65 Bridge, Shine Eye Bluff, and Long Bottom Bluff. Numerous deep pools provide options for swimming and fishing. The Gilbert Access is on river left.

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 Middle District, Tyler Bend 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 Middle District.

A horse and rider face the Buffalo River and a historic railroad bridge pier.
A horse and rider face the Buffalo River and a historic railroad bridge pier.

Terra Fondriest

Day 2: Hiking and Sightseeing

Visit the Collier Homestead

The Collier family homesteaded one of the last parcels of land available along the Buffalo River when they moved from Kentucky in 1928. Solomon “Sod” Collier, his wife Ida Mae, and two of their seven children built the cabin and a life here. Sod and Ida Mae stayed until 1962.

Visitors can explore the homestead by walking 1/10 mile down an easy trail from the Collier Homestead parking lot. A brochure is available at the Tyler Bend Visitor Center.

Hike the Riverview Trail

Continuing past the Collier Homestead, hikers may follow the Riverview Trail to a series of overlooks high above the Buffalo River. At 1.5 miles each way, this trail connects the Collier Homestead parking area to the Tyler Bend Visitor Center, campground, and river access. Click here for more information about the Riverview Trail.

Stop by the Tyler Bend Visitor Center

The Tyler Bend Visitor Center is open Thursday through Monday from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM. The center includes interpretive exhibits about the Buffalo River, a theater showing the park documentary, a small bookstore/gift shop, outdoor viewing platforms, and an information desk staffed by National Park Service rangers.

Picnic by the Buffalo River

Head down to the picnic area at Tyler Bend Campground for a shaded picnic overlooking the river. A short path leads you to the river's edge, offering a perfect place to swim, fish, or take in the sights and sounds of the Buffalo.

Tour the Riverside Community of Gilbert

Established in 1902 as a construction camp for the Missouri & North Arkansas Railroad, Gilbert is a charming riverside community with historic ties to transportation. Take a leisurely hike or trail ride on the Old Railroad Trail to follow the path of the M&NA for 2.4 miles to the point where the railroad crossed the Buffalo River at Red Bluff. The historic bridge piers still remain.

Last updated: August 21, 2021

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402 N. Walnut Street
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Harrison, AR 72601


870 439-2502

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