This is a long, remote, breathtaking run. The majority of the run is inside protected wilderness land. Most of the gorge is in the Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area of the Ozark National Forest with the lower portion of the run located in the Buffalo National River Park.
The first 12 miles are in a remote gorge with the last 1.6 miles ending in the Boxley Valley. The only sign of development in the gorge is high on the left bluff at Whitaker Creek (Mile 8.6). The home of Tim Ernst, wilderness photographer, is located here (though his website mentions he is looking to sell and move as of January, 2017). His journal and photographs can be seen at timernst.com, and he also has a Facebook Page, Tim Ernst Photography of Arkansas and other wild places.
The first couple miles of the run consist of mainly shallow Class II bedrock shoals and small ledges, offering countless surf waves as the walls of the gorge begin to grow. Be careful of the numerous areas where this bedrock is undercut along the banks.
The action picks up when boulders begin to appear in the stream creating several class III to III+ rapids for the next couple miles. After several of these boulder drops, look for one of particular note. It consists of a diagonal ledge angling downstream to the right. Below the ledge the creek turns right, but the main flow continues left into a large undercut bluff. At lower water levels, the hazard is minimal. At higher flows, the hole below the ledge and flow into the undercut are more difficult and intimidating.
The difficulty subsides a little for short time below this rapid, but regains intensity below Whitaker Creek. Large boulders again populate the streambed and create several rapids with slots, holes and some undercuts.
Although this river is pool drop in nature, the pools are generally small with good current in the gorge. The last couple miles of the run contain some larger pools as the creek enters the Boxley Valley, beware of the willows in this section.Put-in: Located on NFR 1463 off of Hwy 21 near Fallsville. From Fallsville (intersection of Hwy 21 and Hwy 16 East) travel North on Hwy 21 for 1.4 miles and turn Left (West) onto NFR 1463 (Newton County 14). This will be the second dirt road to the left as you travel North from Fallsville. Follow this road 3.1 miles to the river. The road is well maintained for the first 2.1 miles to the 'Wilderness Access' sign. Do not follow the arrow to the Wilderness Access (Right). Continue to the left and the road will begin a steep descent to the river. High ground clearance or 4-WD may be needed here, especially after heavy rains.Take-out: Hwy 21 bridge at Boxley. From the put-in travel North on Hwy 21.
HAZARDS: strainers, remoteness, some undercuts and length of run.
USGS gauge is located ~1.5 miles upstream of the Hwy 21 take-out bridge. This gauge is now updated hourly.
Look for 1.5" or more rain within the past 12 hours.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!