Wilderness Areas

Discover America as it used to be

Experience nature in its purest form. Challenge your modern day perspective. Take a short nature hike or explore your limits in back-packing adventures, but leave no trace. Discover a remarkable national treasure.

Buffalo National River Wilderness Areas 

The Buffalo National River wilderness areas include three separate regions that cover 36,000 acres of rugged high country, remarkable vistas and pure mountain streams. No mechanized vehicles are allowed. The land is only accessible by foot, horseback or canoe from the Buffalo National River.

Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area: Bluffs, caves, rough terrain and a portion of the Buffalo National River make up this 2,200 acres of National Park wilderness. The area lies upstream from Boxley and adjacent to U.S. Forest Service Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area. The area extends south to the park boundary where it adjoins the Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area managed by the Ozark National Forest.

Ponca Wilderness Area: Featuring scenic waterfalls, majestic bluffs, ancient caves, mountain streams, historic homesteads and rough terrain, this 11,300 acre wilderness area offers outdoor adventures for casual hikers and backwoods enthusiasts alike. Some of the features of this area include: a 2½ mile hiking trail that leads to Hemmed-In-Hollow Falls, a 4½ mile equestrian/hiking trail, a narrow ledge trail, an old road hike of four miles and several spur trails that connect to other wilderness area trails.

Lower Buffalo Wilderness Area: Discover mountain streams and rugged high country. Hike into scenic Lower Buffalo areas: Big Creek, Cold Spring Hollow and Loonbeam Hollow. This 22,500 acres of magnificent wilderness offers easy access into the heart of the wilderness. The area features a 10 ½ mile loop popular with equestrian trail riders. The south side of the river features an old road which provides trail access into the wilderness and down to the river. The Lower Buffalo wilderness is contiguous with the 16,9000 acre Leatherwood Wilderness, forming one of the largest and most remote wilderness systems in the eastern United States.

Ozark National Forest Wilderness Areas 

Wilderness areas operated by the National Forest Service include:

Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area: 15,100 acres of mountain wilderness features rushing mountain streams, scenic bluff lines and rock formations including a natural bridge. Approximately 13 miles of the Ozark Highland National Recreation Tail passes through Hurricane Creek Wilderness.

Richland Creek Wilderness Area: 11,800 acres featuring waterfalls, bluffs, clear flowing streams and ragged terrain. This wilderness area is one of the most scenic places in the entire United States. Because it receives a great deal of use, visitors must be extra cautious to "leave no trace."

Leatherwood Wilderness Area: 16,900 acres of flowing streams, springs, caves and bluffs. No trails, but several old roads provide good access. The area is contiguous with the 22,500 acre Lower buffalo Wilderness of the Buffalo National River.

Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area South: 11.054 acres feature caves, bluffs and the headwaters of the Buffalo National River. This area features beautiful, boulder-strewn, dramatic scenery. There are a number of side hollows which feed the Buffalo River, and each one of these is worthy of exploring. A short primitive trail provides access to a popular rock formation above the bluff line. With that exception, there are no other developed trails into this area. This wilderness area is contiguous with the 2,200 acre Upper Buffalo Wilderness managed by the Buffalo National River.