River surge warning forced us to bed down for the night at the Erbie Campground along the Buffalo National River in Arkansas. It was a welcome and comfortable site for our sore, wet bodies!
Our group of 9 guys had planned a canoe/kayak trip to the Current River originally but heavy spring rain flooding had left our route muddy and littered with debris. Last minute change of plans put us on the Buffalo River.
Plans were to set in at Kyles Landing and paddle to Ozark Campground for the night and then reach Carver Campground the next day. Because we were going it alone, we dumped the gear at Kyle’s and then a couple of guys took one vehicle to Carver. LONG DRIVE! Much longer than we expected so by the time they got back, we were really late in the afternoon.
Some commercial guides who were pulling out at Kyle’s informed us that heavy rains upstream were headed our way and would create a surge sometime in the late evening. Told us that it would not be a slow rise.
Finally put in and paddled for several hours. The river was up and running fast from the get go and canoes did tip and gear got wet. Around 8pm, we had stopped on a sandbar and as we were talking, you could see the river rising. Being about a 1/2 mile from Erbie, we decided paddle quickly there and pull out rather than chance it by going all the way to Ozark. GLAD WE DID!
River side of Erbie has a great primitive loading and unloading area. We were able to easily paddle in and carry the kayaks and canoes up about 25 yards to a safe and dry area. There was a circle road that, should we have wanted to use Erbie as our put in or final take out area, it would have made gear unloading and loading very easy. In the area of the ramp, there was a wide open space of freshly mowed meadow, a parking area, a vault bathroom and a half a dozen picnic tables. Looked like the perfect place so we pitched our tent and broke out our kitchens. Turns out that we weren’t really in the camping area of the campgrounds but we didn’t realize it until morning when it the light came up.
The real camping area was better equipped. Some designated spots were fairly primitive with just a grill area and a picnic table but others had full pad sites with water and electricity. The designated camping areas were nestled in trees and were nicely spaced. Many offered a very “remote” feel to them. There were at least 3 vault restroom facilities but while we were there, only the one in the parking area where we camped was open. Not sure why as there were quite a few other campers in the area. There were also several “communal” water hydrants but all were locked. Since there was no camp host that we could find, we never did find out why there wasn’t water available. That was disappointing but we just may not have known the details on how to get access to the water.
Overall, the campground was well maintained, seemed safe, and the the restrooms were clean and stocked. We liked the remote feeling of the area and the river access was excellent. I would recommend Erbie to those needing a spot to stop on a float trip.
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