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About Steel Creek - Buffalo National River

Steel Creek is a first come, first serve campground in the upper district of the park. It has 26 tent only sites with no electrical amenities, but flush restrooms and water are available from March 15 through November 15. Steel Creek also has 14 first come, first serve horse only sites for campers with horse trailers. ADA Access: Steel Creek Campground does not have any ADA compliant campsites. The restroom facilities are ADA compliant.

National Park Service
Drive In
Walk In
Boat In
+ More
ADA Accessible
Alcohol Allowed
Drinking Water
Fires Allowed
No Market
Pets Allowed
Picnic Table
Trash Available
Water Hookups
Steel Creek - Buffalo National River is located in Buffalo National River in Arkansas
36.039 N
-93.336 W
Get Directions
Steel Creek Campground is located off of Highway 74 in the the upper district. The campground is approximately 3 miles east of Ponca, Arkansas and 14 miles west of Jasper, Arkansas. The access road to Steel Creek is paved.
11 Reviews of Steel Creek - Buffalo National River
No road noise

This is one of my all time favorite places to camp. I’ve only ever been in the fall and winter. So it’s quiet. When you first get there it’s a little unnerving because it’s so quiet. There’s no road noise at all. Just nature and the occasional chopping of firewood. It’s all very clean. They have toilets and water spigots that are open til November. And vault toilets for winter.

Beautiful views, easy access

Steel Creek is home to the most iconiv and photographer bluff of the Buffalo National River, Roark Bluff. It is an absolutely gorgeous area and features a short trail to a vantage point for taking pictures of Roarok Bluff as well as access to other Buffalo River hiking trails.

Campground has tent sites, self-pay, and bathrooms with running water. Not as many sites have the trees for hammocking as some of the other campgrounds. Sites have picnic tables and firepits.

Easy access with paved roads up to the campground.G

It does get fairly crowded in the summer, so the best time to visit is a warmer spell during off-season.


Great location close to the river, very primitive, campgrounds can get a little close and are not as private as some! Beautiful views especially in the morning!!

Close sites, beautiful area

We rolled in at 8pm on a Friday night. The sign said "campground full" but thanks to another review we disregarded this and found an open site, as did the person who drove in behind us. The 26 sites are in two layers, one closer to the parking lot, one closer to the woods, river and bluffs. Rangers patrol regularly and are very helpful. There is a ranger station beyond the horse campground which is a pleasant walk or a quick drive. We stopped there to get our National Park stamp! Easy access to a trail directly from the lot, or walk beyond the horse camp to the Old River trail head. Centerpoint Trail is a 15 minute drive away and offers access to the Big Bluff/Goat Trail. Caution drivers: the road in to the campground is windy and steep. A sign warns against bringing RVs. However there were an enormous bus and tons of horse trailers and campers at the bottom of the hill - braver people than I:) Bathrooms are clean, dimly lit at night presumably to keep bugs out. Each site has a lantern pole, fire ring and picnic table. Lost Valley Trail and shelter are a 10-15 minute drive away. Since it was raining we cooked our dinner in the shelter. Overall a beautiful place with great access to multiple trails as well as river access. Sites are a little close, but if you're fine with having neighbors 20 or so feet away, we highly recommend:)

Gorgeous views close hiking

They may not have showers but they do have bathrooms and running water. Right next to the Buffalo River along the gorgeous towering bluff.

Quiet creek connection

This is a great campground, even in early July. It’s quiet and has plenty of space, including restroom facilities. Right behind the campground you will find the creek and the view is amazing. Amongst tons of small rocks and pebbles the water flows freely and the view is perfect. The view from your tent isn’t perfect as it’s surrounded by trees but me and my family found it wonderful!

Clean, accessible and a great starter site!

This is a great campsite if you’re wanting to get outdoors, but aren’t quite adventurous to go full-out. You wake up every morning to the sound of the Buffalo River coursing by just a few hundred yards away, and are greeted by the breathtaking view of the bluffs you are surrounded by!

It has running water, and even a pretty nice public bathroom. Fees are not outrageous, and there is even a site for campers with horses. Overall, it was a great experience, and I’d recommend to all! One thing to consider, however, is to make sure your car has pretty good handling and brakes— as the drive up to the entrance and down to the campsite is steep and curvy (it is paved, though)!

Ranger Review: Renogy E.tunes speaker & Boost Oxygen at Steel Creek!

Campground Review:

We love this place! This campground boasts beautiful bluff views and easy river access. The campsites all have quick access to the river where there is plenty of space to find your own sunny spot to hang out for the day. The camping area is a large field so be prepared to be friendly. Only vaulted toilets here so bring some water if you need. There is a store at Ponca just 5-10 mins from the campground. I would recommend hiking at least part of the Buffalo River Trail for even more stunning views!

Product Review: Renogy

As a ranger for the Dyrt I was lucky enough to receive the Renogy E.tunes solar powered Bluetooth speaker to review. I was so excited to add this speaker to our gear! It is a powerful little speaker with enough juice to pump your music all day and charge your phone. The solar panel charges on just the slightest amount of sunlight. It was surprised at the power and stamina of the speaker. It has so many extras like a flashlight and multiple hook-ups. The Bluetooth pairing surprisingly easy, very user friendly! I wish it was waterproof or had a waterproof case but that's the only thing. Overall, this is a great speaker. I can't wait to take it on an overnight backpacking trip! Thanks, Renogy!

Product Review: Boost Oxygen Being in a lower area of the US I have never felt I needed more oxygen unless climbing mountains out of state. I was able to try out the oxygen after a night out with friends and can say it helped slightly with my hangover the next morning ;). The smaller cans are the perfect size for backpacking if you are climbing a mountain or just need a refreshing boost while hiking. We liked all of the flavors but my favorite was the menthol. Overall, very easy to use and a great quality product!

Ranger Review: Ledlenser MH2 Headlamp at Steel Creek Campground, AR

Steel Creek is a simple strip of campsites with a beautiful backdrop of the Ponca bluffs. Nestled alongside the Buffalo National River, Steel Creek is accessible yet hidden at the same time. We chose this area for a perfect weekend getaway and for an exquisite Autumn camping trip. This was also the perfect time try out my new Ledlenser MH2 Headlamp.

Campground Review:

The sites are first-come-first-serve an cost $12 a night (with a maximum of 6 people per site). When I arrived the board read CAMPING FULL, but when I went to the campground I found it to be pretty empty. There are toilets and water spigots around the campground, but no showers. I set up camp at site #16 which was out in the open and provided us the best seats for the nighttime sky. Each site has a table, fire ring, grill and hook to hang your food or trash. Most sites had good trees for hammocking! The sites along the treeline were just a minute's walk down to the river.

The campground is well maintained with lots of picnic/day use areas, a beach and lots of nature trails (for hiking and horseback riding). We went on a weekend in mid-October and there were probably about 5 to 8 other sites being used (with plenty of vacancy still). The weather was fantastic with cool Fall nights in the 40's and nice warm days anywhere from 60 to 75 degrees.I noticed that other campers brought their dogs and one site even erected a volleyball net. This is a great spot for a family getaway.

My favorite part of this campground though were the trails, which we actually researched on the Dyrt and planned our entire trip around them. Right from the Steel Creek campground we took the Old River Trail (abbreviated as ORT on trail posts) up to the Centerpoint trailhead, which happens to have its own parking lot since it is a pretty popular hiking trail. We then took Centerpoint all the way to a crossing with multiple trails in multiple directions. However, the Goat trail was the one we were looking for as it had been described as a difficult trail with a breathtaking view. Please refer to the pictures I have posted to see how narrow this trail is along the face of the bluffs with a sharp drop down the mountain. Watch you step!! At the end of the goat trail, we took the Buffalo River Trail (BRT) right back to the campground. This was such a great experience. I would love to try more primitive camping outside of the campground off the trail as I did see a number of fire rings in some very ideal spots. Again, take a look at the pictures and give this campsite a go!


Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At Steel Creek, I tested the MH2 Headlamp by Ledlenser. I happen to already have a headlamp, which I got for cheap at a local outfitter store. The MH2 blew my headlamp out of the water! I decided to do the nice thing and give the MH2 to my partner in crime since he has yet to own a headlamp, but by the end of the trip I was full of regrets for not giving him my old one! :)

What I loved about this headlamp:

  1. The focus is unbelievable. First of all, my old headlamp has zero focusing capabilities. The MH2 allows you to target anything in the distance. At our campsite, we spotted with the bright setting an animal in the bushes. We were able to focus the beam on whatever animal it was and we were able to see perfectly a little armadillo staring back at us! I looked at the same thing with my old headlamp and barely saw anything but its eyes.
  2. Bright as hell! Enough said!
  3. So easy to use, with its tilting head for seeing the ground in front of you as well as the three easy-to-set settings (bright, dim, and strobe).
  4. It's so light and comfortable for being such a handy piece of equipment!

We will be definitely be using the Ledlenser MH2 for all of our outdoor adventures in the future!

Buffalo Base Camp

Steel Creek campground is a beautiful grass savanna orbited by 500 foot bluffs. From the campsites is a short hike through large beautiful hardwood trees. A glorious river of milky blue green waters flows at the base of the bluff around the camp's peninsula. East of Ponca this is the closest area to car/RV camp. This camp is also horse camp friendly. Many trails come through Steel Creek for backpackers, horse trails, and of course canoe/kayakers dock and launch from here. I call this base camp because there are so many trails and historic options in this upper area of the Buffalo. My one and only con is the tent camp area is open to all the other tent campers. In other words your camping side by side. Aside from that its definitely worth it!