What Should You Bring on Your Buffalo River Day Trip

Winding through northwest Arkansas, Buffalo National River is known for its natural beauty, swift currents and picturesque bluffs—offering some of the best floating, kayaking and canoeing available anywhere in the region. In fact, it’s great for day trips, which allow people of all skill levels to get out an enjoy all that the river has to offer.

However, while day trips do not require you to pack camping gear and other supplies necessary for overnight and multi-day excursions, there are still a number of things you should be sure to bring with you. The following is a list of items you should consider as you plan your Buffalo River day trip:

Weather-Appropriate Clothing

Although the sun might be out and the temperature warm when you leave your house, conditions can change quickly on the river. Check the weather forecast before you leave and pack appropriate clothes—such as drying shorts, a hat, rain jacket and anything else you’ll need if the weather turns stormy.

Sunblock and Insect Repellant

The sun can get intense on the Buffalo River, so be sure to pack plenty of waterproof sunscreen and a hat to make sure you protect your skin against harmful UV rays. This helps prevent both sunburn and dehydration. Insect repellent will also keep at bay the mosquitos and flies, which can be extremely annoying when you’re trying to enjoy your day trip.

First Aid Kit

Even though it’s just a day trip, accidents and injuries are still possible. You or members of your party could slip on rocks, overturn a canoe, get stung by a bee or suffer any number of injuries while out on the Buffalo River. To that end, you should bring with you a basic First Aid kit, complete with bandages, antiseptic and antibiotic cream, along with any medications you or others may need.

Food and Beverages

Although you may only plan on being on the river for a few hours, be sure to prepare enough food to last you for a couple of meals in case an emergency arises. Packing a little more food won’t take up a lot of extra room, but could come in very handy if your trip lasts longer than originally expected due to delays.


Someone in your party—and ideally more than one person—should know exactly where you’re going and how to spot your takeout point. Have a map handy with the point clearly marked, and pack a waterproof flashlight and compass just in case you need to navigate past dusk.

Remember, successful and fun Buffalo River canoe, kayak or floating day trips come down proper planning. Before heading out, decide where you want to go, what you should bring and any resources or supplies you might need from a local outfitter. Then, stick to your plan and locate your takeout point—and try not to improvise too much while out on the river.