Thing to Do

Paddle Boxley to Ponca

Boxley Run
A whitewater kayaker in an orange dry suit, helmet, and PFD launches in murky water at Boxley.

Linda Eddings

As the most technical section of Buffalo National River, Boxley to Ponca is recommended only for highly-experienced whitewater paddlers. Water levels on this section tend to rise and fall rapidly, so paddlers must have a solid understanding of reading river gauges to properly time their float. Beneath the Boxley Bridge, the river rushes straight into a thick grove of willows. Paddlers must maneuver quickly to find their way safely through this narrow passage and the rapid left bend afterwards. From here, the river's course is generally bordered by the privately-owned agricultural fields of Boxley Valley Historic District on river left and an alternating viewshed of bluffs and pastures on river right. When possible along this stretch, paddlers should use gravel bars and eddies to scout out upcoming obstacles when they hear the looming roar of whitewater. Approaching the takeout, the river will bend left, and a long, straight stretch of tame water will guide paddlers to their destination at the Ponca low-water bridge. Shuttle time between Boxley and Ponca is approximately 10 minutes.
Details
At a moderate river level, this 6.1-mile paddling trip takes an average of 2 to 3 hours.
The most technical section of Buffalo National River, Boxley to Ponca is recommended only for highly-experienced whitewater paddlers. Water levels on this section tend to rise and fall rapidly, so paddlers must have a solid understanding of reading river gauges to properly time their float. Beneath the Boxley Bridge, the river rushes straight into a thick grove of willows. Paddlers must maneuver quickly to find their way safely through this narrow passage and the rapid left bend afterwards. From here, the river's course is generally bordered by the privately-owned agricultural fields of Boxley Valley Historic District on river left and an alternating viewshed of bluffs and pastures on river right. When possible along this stretch, paddlers should use gravel bars and eddies to scout out upcoming obstacles when they hear the looming roar of whitewater. Approaching the takeout, the river will bend left, and a long, straight stretch of tame water will guide paddlers to their destination at the Ponca low-water bridge. Shuttle time between Boxley and Ponca is approximately 10 minutes.
  • Leashed pets are permitted on gravel bars up to 100' from the water's edge.
  • Pets may not be left unattended. Unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells can disturb even the calmest, friendliest, and best-trained dog, causing them to behave unpredictably or bark excessively.
  • Pet excrement must be collected by pet owners, and disposed of in trash receptacles.
There is no fee to paddle the Buffalo River in your own boat. However, if you need a vehicle shuttle, authorized concessionaires offer this service for a fee. See https://www.nps.gov/buff/canoe-rentals.htm for more information.
The Boxley Bridge is located on Hwy. 21, approximately 5 miles south of Ponca, AR.
Reservations are not required to paddle the Buffalo River in your own boat. 
Private boaters can paddle this section year-round as conditions allow. 
Time of Day
Any Time
Accessibility Information
This activity is accessible to those who can get in and out of a kayak or canoe and maneuver the kayak or canoe in swift water with sharp bends and frequent obstacles. This section of the Buffalo River is for whitewater experts.

Buffalo National River

Last updated: November 19, 2020