Leave No Trace

Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details
2 minutes, 12 seconds

Using fun hand signs that are great teaching tools for kids, Girl Scout Troop 5713 shares their knowledge about the seven principles of Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics.

Backpacker at overlook
Low-impact recreation techniques are essential in both the frontcountry and backcountry of Buffalo National River.

Christina Flood

Visitors to public lands are urged to practice Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics in order to protect our shared outdoor spaces for future generations to enjoy. Even if you're unfamiliar with the concept of Leave No Trace, you've probably practiced it before without realizing. In short, always strive to "leave it better than you found it."

Leave No Trace Seven Principles provide guidance to enjoy our natural world in a responsible way that minimizes human-created impacts. The principles have been adapted so they can be applied in your backyard or the backcountry. Click a principle below to learn how to apply it to your visit to Buffalo National River!

  1. Plan Ahead & Prepare
  2. Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Keep scrolling for more information about each principle and how it applies specifically to your experience at Buffalo National River. Thank you for taking the time to research your adventure and recreate responsibly!

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Know before you go. Check the weather forecast and water levels before your trip. Stay updated on changing river conditions at ar.water.usgs.gov/buffaloriver. River levels greater than the indicated levels are unsafe:
    • Ponca gage: 2070 cfs
    • Pruitt/Hwy. 7 gage: 2000 cfs
    • Grinder’s Ferry/Hwy. 65 gage: 8000 cfs
    • Dillard’s Ferry/Hwy. 14 gage: 9370 cfs
  • Watch the weather closely during your trip. Upstream thunderstorms can cause the river to rise rapidly.
  • Use a detailed topographic map to plan your trip.
  • Be prepared with all necessary skills, gear, and equipment to have a safe and enjoyable time.
Back to top

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • When in the frontcountry, camp in designated campsites. When in the backcountry, find a site that is at least ½ mile away from a trailhead, road, or other high-use area. Whenever possible, choose existing sites where vegetation is absent.
  • If you camp on a gravel bar along the river, be mindful of flood potential and plan an escape route. Overnight storms can warrant an emergency evacuation to higher ground.
  • When hiking, walk single file down center of trail (even when muddy) to protect vegetation and prevent soil erosion.
  • Always leave your campsite cleaner than when you arrived.
Back to top

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

  • If you pack it in, pack it out!
  • Always pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • In non-developed areas, solid human waste must be: deposited in fixtures provided for that purpose; buried in a cathole 6”to 8” deep and at least 200’ from water, camp, and trails; packed out in a disposable biodegradable bag toilet system approved for landfill disposal (WAG bag or similar system); or packed out in a self-contained washable, leak-proof, reusable toilet system.
  • Most of the littering that takes place at Buffalo National River is done accidentally when a canoe tips over and its contents wash downstream. To prevent accidental littering, fasten cooler lids and secure all belongings to your boat while paddling.
  • Do not throw trash into river, on land, or leave at campsite. Carry it out with you.
Back to top

4. Leave What You Find

  • Appreciate historical structures like homesteads, cemeteries, and mines by leaving them undisturbed. Observe, but do not touch cultural or historic artifacts.
  • Do not build rock cairns, dig trenches, or carve into bluffs, tree trunks, or structures. Leave natural and historical areas exactly as they were when you arrived.
Back to top

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Know current fire conditions including local burn bans before you go.
  • Use a camp stove for cooking and use existing fire rings for campfires. When camping in the backcountry, disassemble fire rings and disperse ashes before vacating your campsite.
  • To prevent the spread of tree-killing insects and diseases, do not transport firewood into the park from other areas. Collect dead and down wood around your campsite or purchase firewood from a local outfitter.
  • Burn all wood to coals and ash. Extinguish fires completely with water. Never burn trash.
Back to top

6. Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Never follow or approach them.
  • Never feed wildlife; store your food and trash securely in a locking container. When camping in the backcountry, store the locking food container away from your campsite.
  • Pets are permitted only in specific areas of the Buffalo. Please know and comply with park regulations by reviewing www.nps.gov/buff/planyourvisit/pets.htm. In permitted areas, keep pets on a leash and pack out their waste.
  • Be especially considerate of wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or hibernation.
Back to top

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Minimize your group size to prevent unnecessary noise and resource impact, particularly in designated wilderness areas.
  • Be aware that hunting is permitted at Buffalo National River. During hunting season, notify hunters of your presence by wearing bright orange clothing.
  • Let nature’s sights and sounds prevail.
Back to top

Last updated: November 21, 2021

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

402 N. Walnut Street
Suite 136

Harrison, AR 72601


870 439-2502

Contact Us