Kayaking the Buffalo River

June 7, 2024

 Last year we planned to kayak the Buffalo. My great aunt has told me for years how much they loved camping and being in this area, she wasn't kidding. It's absolutely beautiful. 

However, our cabin last year was about 20 minutes south of town and when I looked at everything on the map I couldn't get it straight in my mind. I figured everyone would complain. So we went to the White River, which was much closer, and a big mistake. Fishing is great on the White River, but just being on the water isn't. The entire stretch we paddled was private property and we couldn't even stop on the side for a break. Plus they said it wasn't currently deep enough for a canoe, we ended up with a 6 person raft with only two adults paddling. It was a 10 mile trip that felt like it would end on Gilligan's Island. 

So this year I had to fix the issue. Our cabin was north of town and much closer to any outdoor rec areas. We were an hour from the Buffalo, which is doable and the more reasonable distance considering that the towns between us and kayaking were all populated with less and 300 and barely had grocery shopping. Gas stations were scarce folks. 

All that to say, do take a kayaking shortcut when you are this close to a national river. 

The starting point!

Buffalo River Outfitters was great. We drove our car to the drop point, got in the kayaks, and they took our car to the pickup point. 

The mesh bags attached to the kayaks were great for holding the kids shoes, we both have Chacos so there was no need to take them off. I told Jeremy I really want two of these Jackson sit on kayaks, it had a space in back to tie down our fishing cooler and felt super stable. The kids were able to move around and it never felt like we would tip over. The only down side was needing a tandem for a 9.9 mile float and having to single man paddle that sucker through the river. 

The Buffalo has some movement, but not tubing level movement. We was-a-paddling-away friends. 

The rocky areas were fun to paddle through, granted I tried taking a photo or two on the way and got Elliot and I stuck. There was a rushing water area that I got us sandwiched into where we weren't budging and the water was just flowing! I had to get out and shove us out of the area and then hop back in before the kayak got away from me. 

In one of the deeper areas Harry saw some kids hop out and kick behind their parent's kayaks. He was all on board and jumped right out. Elliot on the other hand talked himself into getting out, freaked out, and made me drag him back into the boat with him screaming the entire time. 

Snack stop!

How cool is this rock formation! 

Whenever you get the chance, kayak with your kids! 

We've loved it over the years, when the boys were little we would canoe so we had a bit more stability. Now that they're older (Elliot is 5) everyone does so well. Although I can't wait for them to be big enough to help paddle, or when they're teens and we all have our own kayak.