Camping season is around the corner and you’ve found your destination – Buffalo! Indeed, River Buffalo and its surrounding area is an awesome area for camping. But are you feeling a little daunted regarding how to prepare for your trip? Don’t worry! We are here to help you out. Following are our tips for you.
Find a Site
Buffalo is a quite vast area and you’ll have to decide where exactly you want to go. Here are some prominent ones:
Upper Buffalo National River Wilderness
This area is situated at a higher altitude than most other areas of Arkansas; so, tree leaves change colors sooner than in the less mountainous areas of the state and this is the very beauty of this area. If you want to get lost in the amazing fall colors here, reach there in late September to see black gums and sumacs with their hot-red, fiery leaves, and anytimebetween September end and early November to see maples and other hardwood trees. Fortunately in Ponca, mostly you can enjoy a prolonged season of colors because different trees change to their prime color for several weeks.
Thanks to the changing colors of the trees, you can also enjoy a great hiking on miles and miles of trails(mostly family friendly) in the hardwood forests of upper Buffalo National River country.
Ponca is also the area where you can enjoy elk watching, horseback riding, fall zip line adventure, driving on scenic paths and fine dining.You can bring your camper trailer, erect a tent or reserve a cabin.
Lake of the Ozarks State Park
Lake of the Ozarks State Park is the biggest state park in Missouri, but it’s unknown to many visitors to the lake area that there is a 17,441 acre playground lying just to the south of the Osage Beach. There is an amazing 85-mile shoreline and two picnic beaches and boat launching areas here. You can also enjoy horseback riding, hiking trails and four organized youth camps.
The park is dissected by the lake’s Grand Glaize Arm and there are so many facilities along this water corridor at the Grand Glaize Beach.
Enjoy swimming at the free sand beaches. For large groups, you can reserve picnic shelter or take a chance for first-come-first-served basis if you cannot reserve.
An open air program is offered by naturalists in an open air amphitheater from May till mid-October and you can also get lost in the natural features along the lake shore of the park on the Ozarks Aquatic Trail.
Discover an amazing new world of underground splendor of the Ozark Caverns for which you can get lanterns for a small fee. Enjoy the spectacular Angel’s Shower, an endless flow of water which seems to fall from the compact rock ceiling into two great bowl-shaped rock basins.
Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Ha Ha Tonka State Park is spread over 3,600 acres of the Niangua Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks, 5 miles southwest of Camdenton. This amazing park contains 12 hiking trails which take you to places like Turkey Pen Hollowand and Devil’s Kitchen. There are 8 caves here and several picnic areas (2 with picnic shelters) and a playground.
Kyle’s Landing Campground
Located around halfway between Ponca and Jasper, Arkansas, Kyle’s Landing Campground has an entry road of gravel and is very rough, so, it’s recommended to take a 4 wheel drive, high clearance vehicle. This campground has 33 sites, available on first come-first served basis. Each of them has a fire ring, picnic table, lantern hook, trash pick-up, water system and flush restroom (closed from 15th November to 14th March).
Situated close to the bridge that crosses the Buffalo River, Carver Campground has 8 campsites, each having a fire ring, picnic table, lantern hook, vault restroom and drinking water. But trash service is not available.
Tyler Bend is the middle area of River Buffalo and has a developed campground open year round. There are 1-13 drive-in sites and A-E walk-in sites.
Woolum Camping Area
Located 7 miles southwest of St. Joe on gravel and paved roads, Woolum Camping area provides a vault toilet. It also permits horse camping, but no trash service is available.
Located 3 miles down a graded gravel road, north of Jasper, Ozark Campground has 31 campsites, each having a fire ring, picnic table, trash pickup and lantern hook. But there is no hookups and dump stations. Flush restroom is closed from 15th November to 14th March, though a vault toilet will be provided all through the winter.
Located 7 miles down a gravel road, north of Jasper, Arkansas, Erbie Campground has 14 drive-in campsites and 2 walk-in campsites, each with a fire ring, picnic table and lantern hook. The drive-in sites are good for RV or tent camping but there are no hookups, running water and dump stations. A vault toile is provided at the boat launch. There is no trash service too.
The lower section of the river provides camping at Spring Creek, Rush Campgrounds and Buffalo Point. The Spring Creek has 12 sites, Rush Campground has 12 sites and Buffalo Point Campground has over 100 designated sites.
These are only a few – there are so many. Research about each campsite and check the amenities provided so that you won’t find any difficulty and can enjoy the trip to the fullest.
Most of the Buffalo campsites are available on a first-come-first-served basis and fill soon on Fridays; so, it’s better to arrive as early as possible. However, inclement weather can reduce the demand of sites and can work in your favor if you can enjoy camping in such weather.
Water and Toilets
As such the area offers drinking water and flushable toilets throughout the camping season. But you on your own can prepare for emergency situations in case there are no toilets provided, e.g. on hiking trails or in the forests. Carry zip-lock bags and toilet paper for such situations. The best solution is a camper trailer with a built-in toilet. If you don’t like the idea much, carry a shovel; but be prepared to use it. You’ll have to dig a deep hole, bury it all and use toilet paper only.
Be Prepared for Bugs
Ticks and chiggers occur commonly in the camping area; so, essentially carry bug spray.
Prepare to Be Away from the World
Buffalo area, particularly Upper Buffalo River and Ponca, is remote and usually rugged. Hence rescue assistance and medical help can take a while to reach you. There are emergency phones in places like the restroom building at Kyle’s Landing and Steel Creek horse camp. They ring to the regional emergency response center, MROCC. But you should be prepare for emergency situations; so, carry plenty of water, matches, rain jackets and snacks. Dress in quick-dry layers to minimize the risk posed by changing climatic conditions during extended outings. A first-aid kit is a must, whether at camp or on the trail.
You don’t want to leave your beloved pets at home with your friends or a pet-sitter. You want to them to participate in the camping fun with you. In that situation, check whether the site you are planning to visit is pet-friendly. Although most of them allow pets, if there is an occasional one which doesn’t, you should not have to face disappointment or go on searching for another pet-friendly site. So, checking beforehand is advisable.
In the wilderness, you may need to find your own way, as mostly there will be no signs to guide you. Neither there would be the internet nor may your vehicle’s satnav work. So, it’s a good idea to have a bunch of detailed off-road topographic maps.
So, are you feeling clearer and more relaxed? Make the best preparations with these tips and they will make your camping trip unforgettable.