Take pure, clear, flowing water, send it down a 132-mile meandering course; pour it over rapids; strain it through gravel bars; drift it through long pools; let it caress tree-covered banks. Then dot a valley bottom with open grassy meadows with grazing elk; punctuate the shores with frequent tall multicolored bluffs; and fill the country side with steep, wooded hills. Now interject an occasional turtle sunning on a log; watch a snake slide in the water as it explores the depths of the river; be startled by a bass breaking the water surface; and observe a heron stalking the river's edge. Accent the experience with birds warbling in the trees and insects buzzing close above the water. Finally, place yourself in a canoe drifting down the river surrounded by the peaceful and inspiring mood of these natural elements. Now you have witnessed only one of the many faces of Buffalo National River.
Flowing water, relatively free from pollution and impoundment, was the primary purpose of Buffalo River becoming the nation's first National River in 1972. The Buffalo River is one of the Nation's last major rivers that is still free-flowing. Its ancient current gives life to well over 300 species of fish, insects, freshwater mussels, and aquatic plants. In addition to the thriving aquatic life, on land there are many more natural wonders to behold: caves with hidden formations, untrodden passageways, solution pits and sinks and underground waterways; tall cliffs that create long waterfalls; old pioneer farmsteads that provide foraging for numerous wildlife species such as elk and whitetail deer, wild turkey, bobwhite quail and many other species of wildlife waiting to experienced.