Some concerned about social distancing at the Buffalo National River

PONCA, Ark. -- Even though group campsites and visitor centers are closed, that didn't stop people from canoeing, fishing, and just having some fun on the Buffalo National River.

"We could come out here and play in the Buffalo, and let her run wild, and have some time away from the confines of the inside of our house," said Sunny Gentry, from Rogers.

At Steel Creek and Ponca, people appeared to be doing a good job of social distancing from other families.

"I needed to get out of the house, and come float the river, and get some peace and quiet," said John Brooks, who lives in Fayetteville.

But that doesn't seem to be the case on Thursday.

"Yesterday I came over, and there were so many people. I actually turned around and went home," Brooks said.

Some are worried that the people coming to the river to escape their houses were not following CDC guidelines.

"Lost Valley Canoe was kind enough to make a promise to disinfect everyone's cars when they shuttle them down," Brooks said.

Outfitters though like Lost Valley Canoe & Lodging are taking the guidelines seriously, like when they are launching canoes into the water.

"They were asked to go back to their car, the parking area, and wait until we call them over. So we were just dealing with one group at a time," said Kris Olesen-Jorgensen, the owner of Lost Valley Canoe.

But Olesen-Jorgensen said sometimes independent people don't follow those rules, and that's when it can become a problem.

Friday though, the river wasn't as busy, and everyone could have a good time.

"You can't feel the craziness of the rest of the world here," Gentry said.

Overnight stays in designated campgrounds at the Buffalo National River are only available from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The services that are suspended right now are: All shower facilities, pavilions in the park, Tyler Bend Visitor Center, Steel Creek Visitor Contact Station, Buffalo National River Headquarters Office in Harrison, volunteer service groups of more than 10 people, educational and interpretive programming.