How Long Does It Take to Kayak the Buffalo River?

Are you planning a kayaking trip on the beautiful Buffalo River? One of the most common questions asked by kayakers is, “How long does it take to kayak the Buffalo River?”

Well, the answer depends on several factors such as water levels, paddling speed, and the distance you plan to cover. In this article, we will explore these factors and give you a rough estimate of the time it might take to kayak this scenic river.

Water Levels

The water levels of the Buffalo River can vary significantly throughout the year. During spring when snowmelt and rain are abundant, the river’s flow is usually higher and faster. On the other hand, during summer and fall, when rainfall is scarce, water levels can be lower.

Higher Water Levels:

Kayaking during higher water levels can make your trip more challenging yet exciting. The increased flow can help you cover larger distances in a shorter amount of time. However, it also means encountering stronger currents and rapids that require more skill and experience to navigate.

Lower Water Levels:

In contrast, kayaking during lower water levels can slow down your progress. The reduced flow may require you to paddle harder or even portage (carrying your kayak) in some shallow areas. It’s important to note that certain sections of the Buffalo River may become impassable during extremely low water levels.

Paddling Speed

Your paddling speed plays a vital role in determining how long it will take to kayak the Buffalo River. Everyone has their own comfortable pace depending on their fitness level and experience. As a general estimate, an average kayaker can maintain a speed of around 3-4 miles per hour on calm stretches of the river.

If you are a beginner or prefer a more relaxed pace, you might average around 2-3 miles per hour. On the other hand, experienced kayakers or those seeking a more intense workout may reach speeds of 5-6 miles per hour.


The Buffalo River stretches approximately 153 miles through the beautiful Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. The time it takes to kayak the river will ultimately depend on the distance you plan to cover.

If you are looking for a shorter day trip, there are several popular sections that range from 7 to 15 miles in length. These sections can typically be completed in a day, allowing you to enjoy the scenic beauty of the river without rushing.

For those seeking a multi-day adventure, kayaking the entire length of the Buffalo River may take around 7-10 days. This allows for a more leisurely pace and gives you ample time to explore and camp along the way.


In conclusion, there is no definitive answer to how long it takes to kayak the Buffalo River. It depends on various factors including water levels, paddling speed, and the distance you plan to cover.

Higher water levels can offer faster travel but also pose greater challenges, while lower water levels may slow down your progress. Your paddling speed and fitness level will also influence how quickly you can navigate the river.

Remember, kayaking is not just about reaching your destination quickly; it’s about immersing yourself in nature and enjoying every moment on this picturesque river. So take your time, savor the experience, and make lasting memories as you kayak the stunning Buffalo River!

Photo of author

Daniel Bennet