Buffalo National River to begin reopening May 15

ARKANSAS, USA — Following guidelines set by the White House, CDC, and Arkansas Department of Health, the Buffalo National River will resume visitor access for recreational day use of trails and the Buffalo River on May 15. 

Beginning May 15, 2020, the Buffalo National River will resume Day Use Only access for:

  • Private and commercial floating on the Buffalo River, including all river access points
  • All trails within park boundaries, except for the Lost Valley Trail
  • Limited restroom facilities

Park employees will be staffing trailheads and river access points to ensure traffic control and social distancing guidance. 

Staff will be available to direct visitors to other areas of the park if locations become too congested to comply with social distancing guidelines. 

With public health in mind, the following facilities remain closed at this time:

  • The Lost Valley Trail
  • Buffalo National River Headquarters building in Harrison, Arkansas
  • All established campgrounds in the park
  • Gravel bar and backcountry camping within park boundaries
  • Tyler Bend Visitor Center, Steel Creek Visitor Contact Station, and the Buffalo Point Visitor Contact Station

Mark Foust, superintendent of Buffalo National River, said “The National Park Service is a public service agency of the Federal Government, our mission is to protect the natural and cultural resources of the park, while providing for the enjoyment of the park by the public. We hold this mission dear to our hearts. We also understand that the park supports the health and well-being of the Nation and can help Americans during this emergency by giving them outdoor spaces to enjoy while following Health Department and CDC guidance. The park was closed at the request of communities and state and local leaders concerned about overcrowding and the potential spread of the virus in our communities. It is important to note that because Buffalo National River is a unit of the National Park System, when it is open, it is open to all, regardless of their place of residence. We have been working closely with the State of Arkansas on our phased resumption of access and we will continue to do so. As long as the staff is able to safely do the work of the park with required personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, and safe distancing, it is our great pleasure to resume visitor access to the park. We ask our visitors to work with us to ensure the park remains open and accessible to all. Crowd sizes and visitors’ ability to enjoy the park with appropriate social distancing will be key to our progress to eventually providing complete access to all.” 

As the Buffalo National River begins to reopen,  return to full operations will continue to come in phases and visitor services will be limited. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders regarding the wearing of masks, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.   

Visitors are advised to talk with park rangers to help plan a trip visiting less congested areas of the park, where social distancing is easier.  

If recreational activities resume and social distancing guidelines are not able to be met at Buffalo National River, some recreational activities may again be temporarily closed until health guidelines can be met. 

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