Uniquely Arkansas: Where the Buffalo flows


Eden Falls is a waterfall on the Lost Valley Trail at Buffalo National River near Ponca. (Courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism)

Over the years, the beautiful Buffalo River has inspired many a song and even some entire albums.

Which is fortunate because a proper party playlist is certainly needed for a major Buffalo achievement.

This year — March 1, to be exact — marks the 50th anniversary of the Buffalo becoming a “national river,” America’s first in 1972, after a contentious fight for control.

Public Law 92-237 established 135 undammed miles as the Buffalo National River “for the purposes of conserving and interpreting an area containing unique scenic and scientific features and preserving as a free-flowing stream an important segment of the Buffalo River in Arkansas for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.”

Enjoy they do, as the river remains one of the state’s most cherished camping, hiking, canoeing, fishing and even horseback riding spots. A National Park Service report released last year estimated that 1.5 million people visited the river in 2020.

A particularly great time to visit will be the upcoming History Weekend, Feb. 26-27, which according to the National Park Service, will be dedicated to “celebrating the cultural history of the area and the creation of the park.” Scheduled activities include a Saturday geological history talk (Buffalo Point), a Saturday oral history event (place to be announced) and a Sunday presentation on current and historical tribal connections (St. Joe High School Auditorium).

On March 1, there will be a science symposium, an anniversary kickoff and celebration with birthday cake (North Arkansas College in Harrison).

Future festivities scheduled include an Art in the Park Weekend (June 9-12) and Park Rx Weekend (Oct. 8-9).

The National Park Service advises that events are subject to change due to COVID-19 requirements and weather. Visit the park’s website nps.gov/buff to stay in the flow.

Uniquely Arkansas is an occasional spotlight on something special in our state. Have a fun suggestion for a feature? Email jennifer.cia@aeci.com.