Floating the Buffalo River

My mom Margo and brother Andy share the paddling responsibility (picture taken in 1976).

It’s Canoeing Season…!  As a child and teenager growing up in NW Arkansas, the months of April, May, and June always filled me with a sense of adventure.  As the Dogwood trees budded out, spring flowers popped up, and rains flooded the Arkansas water ways, the Heinzelmann family prepared for weekend floating trips.

My brother Andy and I always helped load our family Dodge Caravan for the float trips.  We enjoyed putting the two Old Town canoes on the van rack and throwing in our fishing poles and nets.  Peanut butter-n-jelly and turkey-n-cheese sandwiches were made the night before.  Nothing tastes better than a homemade sandwich after a long stretch of padding.  Apple slices, Cheese-Its, pretzels, Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies were our canoeing food staples.  Floating was one of the only times we were treated to sodas– Orange Crush, Coke, and Sprite were our favorites.

Picture below: Canoes loaded and waiting to push off for a day of fun on Buffalo River




The tall, steep limestone bluffs and fun rapids of the Buffalo River made it a family favorite.  But we also enjoyed the fast flowing Mulberry River, the peaceful King’s River, and the fish stocked White River.  Our hometown of Fayetteville gave us easy access to these rivers.  Living in Texas now, I fully appreciate the natural beauty of Arkansas, and hope that families living there will take full advantage of the accessible outdoors.

Often times we invited friends or met other adventurous families at the rivers we floated.  Sometimes our family dogs made the trip to the rivers.  But it was always a happy family time for us, and these outdoor memories with my family and friends are the ones I cherish the most now as an adult with three kids.

Picture below: Andy, me, my mom, and dog Pippin taking a snack break on the King’s River.


I have been a river girl since the time I was four years old.   And now 41 years later, my husband and I are taking our three children to the Buffalo River.  Fortunately for me, my husband (who does not want to be named :)) grew up in Colorado exploring the outdoors.  it was a natural fit for us to raise our kids with a connection to outdoor places.

Picture below: Loading van for a floating adventure pre-children (picture taken in 1994). Please ignore the bathroom tile…. still learning how to crop of the blog.


I often long for the simple days of outdoor fun and no looming kids’ schedules to rule our lives.  We constantly try to keep a balance between school, sports, church, and other extra curricular activities, so we leave time for family together time in the outdoors!  It is our turn to set aside family time on the river, so they will understand the importance of these special places.  Pictures of the kids on the water to follow…..

Below picture: Navigating the the Buffalo River in 1994.


Dear Reader– Do you have a favorite childhood river?  If not, where would you like to canoe or raft?  Stay tuned to my blog for a more detailed description of how you can get you and your family in a canoe-kayak-raft and out on one of America’s rivers!


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Kim Garrett says:

    Love your adventurous family! ❤️


    1. Thanks for reading Kim!


  2. Margaret Heinzelmann says:

    Love it, Sarah.
    Keep bringing back those great pictures of you and Lance and canoeing the river.
    We head for Scotland tomorrow from Keswick in the Lake District where did some hiking. Beautiful countryside and friendly people.🇬🇧😊


    1. Digging through old scrapbooks can be dangerous!!


  3. larochec says:

    Such fun seeing these old pictures of all of you! XOXO!

    Liked by 1 person

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