Take-out on Buffalo River in Gilbert.
Highway 65 bridge over Buffalo River in Searcy County.
Put in at Tyler Bend along Buffalo River.
GILBERT, Ark. (KTHV) -- After experiencing near flood stages the past few years, the Buffalo River in north Arkansas is now dealing with the opposite issue, low water. And it couldn't come at a worse time. The middle of tourist season.
A youth group from North Little Rock prepares to hit the waters of the Buffalo River. Despite little rainfall, Buffalo Camping & Canoeing in Gilbert says business is staying afloat, for now.
"I have my better years when it's low water, now granted I'd like a couple of more inches, but it's still floatable and everyone is still enjoying themselves."
Gilbert sits 75 miles from the headwaters of the Buffalo River. On a normal run, Fruehauf shuttles groups to the put-in at Tyler Bend where they float 6 miles down river back to the take-out at Gilbert.
Fruehauf says while the low water may not satisfy experienced paddlers, it does allow beginners and families to enjoy the scenery, fishing and swimming. Fruehauf says this makes canoe rentals a little less nerve racking than it has been the past few years.
"I am so apprehensive when the water is high. I want to know what kind of canoer you are.".
Fruehauf says he sinks more money into buying new equipment when river levels are high .
"Last year in May, I gave more money back than came in because of flooding."
This year he admits profit margins are not great, but thinks that's more due to the economy than dry weather. Fruehauf encourages those looking for fun close to home to consider a trip to the Buffalo River.
"People are still watching their pennies and I can't blame them, I'm doing the same thing, but this is cheap recreation and the folks that are coming up are still having a good time
Having owned his canoe rental business for 35 years, Fruehauf says there are good years and bad years,
"My profit margin this year is here, in the better years it was here." Will I open up next year, I will be here with a smile on my face saying come on up to see us."
And no matter what, he says he'll keep his head above water.
Fruehauf says if you're looking for the best spots to canoe on the Buffalo right now, water is floatable from Baker Ford to Tyler Bend down to Gilbert.
The water level in this area is running at about three-and-a-half feet.
Normally at this time of year - it would be in the five-foot range, according to the USGS.