Category Archives: Arkansas

Kayaking in the Ozarks

IMG_5947 IMG_5944 IMG_5939 IMG_5938 IMG_5933 IMG_5929 IMG_5921 IMG_5903 IMG_5887 IMG_5868 IMG_5860 IMG_5855 IMG_5853 IMG_5850KAYAKING THE WHITE RIVER IN THE OZARKS

We used Riley’s Station to outfit our kayaking trip.  They drop you and the kayaks off about 8 miles upstream and you float back down to them.  (For more info on pricing, see Riley’s Station.)

It took us about 6 hours to float down.  It could’ve taken longer though.  And if we weren’t fishing, it could’ve been done in about 2 hours without being slowed down by kids who were having trouble on their first really big kayaking trip.  About a mile after we were dropped off, there was a creek that enters the river.  This creek had an amazing amount of fish, very large fish at that, warmer waters than the frigid White, and even a small little beach (I think it was mostly small rocks, but I guess this far inland, it’s a beach).  We stopped for an hour or so just to hang out, fish a bit, swim a bit, and take a break out of the hot sun.

When we started kayaking again, the kids started fishing as we went.  THIS is what took most of the time!  First off, there’s tons of trout!  Everything you’ve heard about the White River is true!  Secondly, the kids desperately need new set ups, and we had a lot of tangles that wouldn’t have happened if they had newer, more high priced, set ups.  So we ended up having to stop completely a few times to be able to focus on untangling a reel, once again.

If we would’ve left earlier in the day, we probably would’ve used up that time as well.  It was a pretty trip, lots of fish, cool water to help keep you cool in the hot summer.  The only thing, that turned out sort of funny, was they’d dammed up the river the day before, and there were some sections that were really low.  I think I mentioned something to Gabe about how this counted as our “hiking” as well, as we were all walking our kayaking through four inch water on top of sharp stones.  (Thank God for sandals!)  Through a few small rapids, we’d also get stuck occasionally and have to scoot or push our way back out.

The last one was within site of our cabin.  We were exhausted, hungry, annoyed by the previous hour of complaining from our two youngest who were also tired and hungry.  I was the last one through, and everyone else had made it through an interesting line of boulders, moving easily through a small open area in their kayaks.  I waited for Tristan, in case he got stuck, and then I went.  And got stuck.  And got stuck some more.  Now, keep in mind, this was the ONLY part of the entire trip were we saw ANYONE else!  So, I got stuck, super stuck, with a crowd.  Nice.  I grabbed my shoes and eased out of the kayak, feeling my way through some very large boulders so I wouldn’t twist an ankle.  I tugged my kayak along for a few feet. It started to level out.  The water reached past my ankles, and I was going to take another step and then get in, just for good measure.

That last step had me waist deep in water.  Fantastic!  I pulled around the boat launch as everyone else in my party getting out and talking loudly with the Riley’s about the trip and fishing.  With a wet crotch.  And freezing cold because the sun had set and the water is freezing.  I stepped out on shaky legs, trying my best, slid once, twice, finally gained some purchase, and walked right past everyone to go to the cabin and get into some dry clothes.  And also get the ribs going.  I was starving!Image

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Riley’s Station, Outfitters in the Ozarks, Mountain Home, AR

Riley’s Station, Mountain Home, AR

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We spent 4 nights at Riley’s Station.  This was at the end of a long tent camping trip.  I’d decided a few nights in a cabin would probably be very welcome by that point in our trip.  And it was.

Location.  Riley’s Station is located where the Buffalo River meets the White River.  You really couldn’t ask for a more central location to explore this area.

The Cabins.  They have five cabins.  One is for 2-3 people.  One is for up to 12.  A few are in between.  The one (s) we rented was set up like a duplex.  There were two sides, and you can rent either one or both.  If you rent both, you get a price break.  Each side had a kitchen, table with four chairs, a bathroom, a queen with a trundle, and a bunk bed with a queen on bottom and twin on top.  There is a nice patio that can be separated with a fold out wall.  Each side has it’s own grill.  Inside, there is a door to adjoin the two sides that can be locked from one side.

We had the chance to look at the larger cabin and it was beautiful!  In some ways’ we wished we would’ve gotten that one instead.  But, it was a bit further from the boathouse/landing/river.  Where the duplex cabin is, the kids could go down to the river to fish and they were literally right below us.  So we could talk to them while they were fishing.

The Riley’s.  They have seven children, six of which are at home.  My kids had a blast playing with them, swimming, fishing, milking goats, picking peppers, and playing freeze tag late at night in their front yard.  Miles and Michelle were awesome to deal with.  Super laid back, honest people.  They are very into the agrarian lifestyle.  So while this is a retreat on the White river in the Ozarks, it’s also a fully functioning homestead.  They also are outfitters for pretty much any activity you might want to do while you’re there.  Fishing guide trips, kayaking, hiking, primitive camping.

The Price.  I can’t speak for the other cabins.  You can look it up.  But the duplex was $120/night for one, or $180/night for both.  If you stay 4 nights, there’s a price break, and it costs $630.  Michelle rounded it down to $600 for us.  So, $150/night for two adjoining cabins.  Not bad.  We went kayaking.  We got one kayak for each of us.  Miles said he charges usually $40/day, but when it’s multiples, he charges $20/day.  So he quoted $120 for us to float the river.  Which meant he drove us about 8 miles upriver and we floated back down.  No worries about how to get back to our car.  Usually drop off service can run pretty high, just to be dropped off.  This price is similar to what we’ve experienced with state parks, not outfitters.  So I felt it was very generous.  And when it came time to settle up what we owed them for the whole trip, Michelle once again rounded down and said $100 for the float trip.  Which was on top of Miles rigging up our rods (which were set up like beginner trout fishers since we don’t have trout where we live and I’d only googled to see how to do it.) he gave us weights, bait, lures, etc.  Plus he got all the rods ready, and even gave us a cooler and some water bottles to use for the day.  And they never charged us for that.  So, for 4 nights in two cabins, plus an all day float trip, and tackle, it cost us $700.

Bottom line.  Every quarter of a mile on the Buffalo and White rivers you’ll find outfitting services and cabins.  I’m sure many of them are amazing.  But we’re already talking about when we can get back up here again.  Maybe spend a bit more time.  This trip, I am only a few weeks into new treatment and I was tired and sore.  So other than the float trip, Gabe and I didn’t do much.  Which is what we needed at that point.  And I’m glad we were able to do that.  To be in what amounts to a dead end on a gravel road, with no traffic, a great family, and kids who kept our kids plenty busy.  We were able to have a lot of alone time, and down time.  Which at the end of a very long trip, and my health being what it is, was exactly what we needed.  We are looking forward to coming back up again and doing some more hiking and maybe even coming in spring so we can float the Buffalo, which is too low at other times of the year to float. IMG_0881