The Buffalo National River has been closed indefinitely, including to day use, as local officials and the governor had requested.
It has been swarmed with visitors during a time when the country is being urged to reduce travel and keep distance to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Out-of-state visitors have been blamed, but there have been many Arkansas residents in the crowds there and at state parks, now under no-camping rules, but with no limits yet on day use.
The news release posted online this morning:
Effective immediately, Buffalo National River will be closed to recreational use until further notice. This closure includes the Buffalo River, trails, open spaces, and campgrounds. This emergency closure is for the maintenance of public health and safety and is in direct response to guidance from state and federal health officials. The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, communities, and partners is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working service-wide with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and will lift the closure as soon as possible.
Buffalo National River superintendent Mark Foust said “It breaks my heart to have to close this incredible public park. It is, however, the right thing to do to protect the people that work here, live here, visit here, and love this place. We all have to do what we can to slow and prevent the spread of the virus in and around the park. We believe this will help. I am thankful to the people of Newton, Searcy, Marion, and Baxter Counties, who everyday share the river with us and support visitors from all over the country and the world. I look forward to the time we can all welcome visitors back to the Buffalo, sharing the river and the experiences we all know to be good for our minds and bodies.”
State highways and county roads that run through Buffalo National River will remain accessible to through or residential traffic. Roads that enter and terminate within the park, are closed to all but residential traffic. We will notify the public when we can open the park and will provide updates on our website at www.nps.gov/buff and through social media channels.
The NPS encourages people to visit our website www.nps.gov/buff and take advantage of the many digital tools available to explore Buffalo National River. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.