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One thing I figured out quickly for my Arkansas vacation was just how few hotels there are. In this part of the world, the extra space and privacy of a Buffalo River cabin isn’t just a luxury, it’s basically a necessity. That wasn’t a bad thing…I mean, who would complain about gorgeous outdoor decks, expansive views, and a peaceful green setting? Especially when you can find a cabin in the Ozarks for a reasonable price!
The downside, unfortunately, to searching for Buffalo River cabin rentals is that you’re so spoiled for choice that it can take forever to narrow things down. You’ll find literally hundreds of options and you need to sort through each one individually to find the one that works for you. That’s a tedious, time-consuming process (although the bright side is you should be able to find exactly what you need!).
That’s why I’ve sorted out some of the options for you here. I had already done a lot of the research anyway in order to make a decision for my own trip and it seems silly to have you re-invent the wheel. These are the places that piqued my interest while I was reading and planning.
Top Considerations for Choosing Buffalo River Cabins
Location: While you’re planning a getaway to the Buffalo National River, finding a cabin on the right stretch of river is essential. I chose to stay near Ponca and I’m really glad I did — that put me near the hikes I was most interested in, plus there was easy access to float from Ponca to Kyle’s Landing. But, staying farther downriver near Jasper is another popular choice for other float trips, different hikes, and being able to head to the Arkansas Grand Canyon. There isn’t a right or wrong, but unless you want to spend forever commuting, you’ll want to pick the one closest to your activities.
Cabin Size: My family likes to spread out rather than squeezing in all together, so we chose a three-bedroom cabin. We also wanted a place with a comfortable, sizable living room we could all hang out in and a larger kitchen because we knew we’d be cooking a lot of meals. However, if you’re willing to give up some square footage, there’s a good chance you could save some cash.
Cabin Amenities: There are Buffalo River cabins with hot tubs, gigantic decks, access to private acreage and so on. I loved having an unobscured view of nature rather than looking at other cabins but if you’re traveling with a group, you might prefer having a cluster of a few cabins all together. Or, you might want to be somewhere that’s right off a main road instead of worrying about long gravel driveways that might be difficult in a smaller car. Choose wisely!
So, without further ado… I hope these Buffalo River cabin rental suggestions help you out as you plan your trip to this beautiful part of the country.
Best Buffalo River Cabins
In my opinion, these are some of the best Buffalo River cabin rentals to consider for your travel planning.
Best For: Modern Amenities, Tucked Away in the Woods
The Mama Bear cabin is relatively new construction so you can be pampered with air conditioning in the summertime and a cozy fireplace on cool nights. You'll have Wi-Fi to keep in touch and despite only being 15 minutes from town, you'll feel a world apart.
There are two queen beds at the Mama Bear Cabin, one in a private bedroom and the other in a sleeping loft. There's also a full kitchen, living room, and full bath. Plus, there's a grill on the wraparound porch. The gravel driveway is steep, so this one might not work well for anyone with front-wheel drive.
If you love the idea of having 136 acres (including a stunning one-mile hiking loop), then Azalea Falls could be the perfect Buffalo River rental for you.
This is actually more of a house than a "cabin" -- there are three bedrooms, three full bathrooms, a kitchen, dining area, and not one but TWO living rooms. There's also a back deck overlooking a private waterfall and a front patio in a lovely garden setting. The downside? The house is stuffed to the brim with decor, trinkets, and furniture so there's not much space for your personal belongings.
Best For: Anyone Who Wants to Park Once and Stay Awhile
Situated in Low Gap (a bit east of Ponca), the Foggy Hollow Cabin is so close to park boundaries that you can walk in on the Beech Creek Trail and make your way to the Buffalo River Trail. Because of that, you can expect good views and the possibility of seeing deer and turkey right outside the door.
The cabin itself has two bedrooms (one with king, one with queen) and two full baths plus a futon and pull-out couch if you need extra sleeping space. And, after a long day's hike, you can relax in the outdoor hot tub. The entire cabin is decorated with an outdoorsman feel and taxidermied animals which is a love-it-or-hate-it aesthetic.
The Summerfield Cabin -- one of three Walnut Creek Cabins -- is a few miles outside of town, within Boxley Historic Valley. You'll still be close to trailheads and other activities, but the short distance out of town means you're even closer to wildlife. This is the area where elk tend to hang around at dawn and dusk, giving you ample opportunity to spot them.
Make no mistake, the log cabin is also a comfortable place to stay. There are three queen beds, two full baths and extras like a wraparound porch, indoor fireplace, and jetted bathtub. You'll have everything you need, including satellite TV and Wi-Fi if you don't want to disconnect.
Middle Buffalo River Cabins (Jasper and Nearby)
Stay on the Middle Buffalo River for access to calmer stretches of water, a day trip to the Arkansas Grand Canyon, and hiking to Alum Cove.
Best For: Travelers Who Don't Want to Cook, Travelers with Pets
Near the famous Cliff House Inn (go for great views and a slice of "company's comin' pie"), this cabin sleeps up to six with a bedroom on the main floor and a loft with two beds upstairs. The western-facing porch also has epic views of the mountains at sunset and in general, this is the greenest part of the valley.
While it doesn't look fully ADA compliant, the Bear Cabin does have several touches that will make it easier for anyone with limited mobility: you'll find a ramp leading to the cabin itself and a walk in shower. The cabin is also pet-friendly with a very reasonable fee.
The Arrowhead Cabin is farther east than any of the other cabins on our list (above the Tyler Bend section of the river, near St Joe, AR). That's great for returning visitors who want to see a new part of the Middle Buffalo. Like all of the Buffalo National River, there's hiking, fishing, and floating nearby.
The other great part of this cabin is that it's one of three cabins all nestled in the same part of the woods (the others are Woodward's Cabin and Tomahawk Cove). If you're traveling as a larger family or group, everyone can have their own individual space while still being in easy walking distance from each other.
A cabin built into a cave and a waterfall in the living room? Why not? The Beckham Creek Cave Lodge is one of the most unusual places you can book a stay -- and one of the most memorable.
Stays here are pricey ($1600/night) but at 5800 square feet and 1 king, 3 queens, and 2 twin beds, you could split the cost across a few families. You also don't need to budget for other vacation activities: you can fish on-property, watch a movie on the 75" screen, or hike the trails on your 256 acre property.
You can take birds-eye view to a whole new level with this treehouse with fantastic views (pro tip: set an alarm for sunrise one morning -- especially in fall). As you sit out on the deck, you'll realize no photograph could ever do it justice.
Inside the house itself, you'll find a king bed behind sliding barn doors plus a set of double bunk beds if you have a larger group. There's also an eat-in kitchen, living room, and luxury bathroom to complete your stay.