What are the River Levels in Late Summer and Early Fall?

One of the most-heard questions that we get this time of year is: how are the river levels? Perhaps a close second is: what does that mean? And these are great questions! This is the time of year where the river levels can be a little harder to decipher, and we are more than happy to help you better understand the Buffalo River water levels in the hazy, lazy days of summer. So much fun is still to be found on the jewel-green water of America’s First National river.

So, what can you look forward to on a float in August, September and October? In these late summer/fall months, the water levels will hover between three and four feet. This measurement is taken at the gauge located on the 65 Bridge, at Grinder’s Ferry. It does not reflect the actual depth of the river, but rather it helps us to understand the flow of the river. When you see the gauge at about three and a half feet, which is perfectly normal for August and September, you may be worried about whether you could even have a good trip in that kind of water.

Well, you can! Of course, you aren’t going to be constantly propelled along by the current, and a trip that takes two hours in spring may take about three to four hours in late summer/early fall. This provides more time to stop, more time to take in the sights, and the water is warmer and just moves along peacefully. We stay busy all through late summer and into early fall, because now is the time to really enjoy the peacefulness of Buffalo River Country and maybe even top off that gorgeous tan.

What does this mean for your upcoming float trip? It means you will have to paddle your vessel - certainly not the entire time, but for a majority of the time. The deep pools in the river will be still and calm. Between Tyler Bend and Gilbert, there may be a few spots in which you have to really watch where you are going, staying away from shallow spots. Any spot where you have to get out and pull your boat will be short and those spots will be very few, if any.

All of this adds up to late summer being a great time to bring the whole family, or anyone who is a little nervous about floating in swift water. First-timers love this time of year as the water is predictable and all you have to do is move yourself along, not maneuver around obstacles or through turbulent bends. You’ll run less of a risk of turning over, and there’s no tricky spots where you have to remember to go right or left.

As an endnote, remember that our rainfall will pick up as we move into fall, so the river levels may go up for a few days at a time. Traditionally, they will quickly fall back down to standard conditions as described above. Always feel free to call and get up-to-date information on current conditions before your floating adventure.

Worried about floating in the heat? Click here to get some tips and tricks.

Need to see the river levels for yourself? Click here to see our gauge.

Follow us on social media for updates on river levels and to see pictures of current conditions!

Still have questions? We are here to help! Call Buffalo River Outfitters at 870-439-2200.

Happy Paddling!