For an Unparalleled Spa Experience, Think Outside the Room

DS6whoEp4na0uZkJSyxJaeqZP7oRl85twXr4IrLoaFs,CnuzkquE2M_gkixRHck_3sZBf5S4-5d61k3p4J_3UKkTowering limestone bluffs define the river bank. Elk graze the lush meadows in early morning fog and the golden light of dusk. Horse and foot trails wind through the mountains and valleys. Whitewater rapids punctuate the upper reaches slowing to calmer pools by river’s end. The Buffalo National River definitely embodies natural beauty and peace.

Some people might call it their happy place. I know I do.
So imagine my delight when I found out that the place I go for relaxation and rejuvenation now has a spa. Not only that, but the spa offerings let me extend the experience beyond the four walls of the fragrant, dimly-lit traditional massage room into my happy place itself.
yW-WOldD2vpwjoierOx_1tRX48gYXZDw_vxgwa6ynGI,H8g8XxqSKSP-pr0b0-oQiLiu-u6p5h7t1MlwXezRXWgRiverstone Spa, located in Ponca (Pop. 33), is taking the spa experience to new heights, literally.
My massage therapist greeted me on the porch of my Buffalo Outdoor Center cabin overlooking the river valley. I drank in the scenery of the rolling mountains with green, tree slathered hillsides as I slid onto the massage table trading my robe for the sheet. Leaves ruffled, birds chirped, and the buzz of insects rose and faded, rose and faded.
It could have been nature-themed music played from a CD as you hear in most any spa, except this sound came on a warm breeze that I could feel on my skin as my therapist worked out the knots in my shoulder and neck muscles that I develop from typing at my computer.
My mind wanders quite a bit when I’m getting a massage, sort of unsure what to do with itself. Unlike my body, it has difficulty taking a sabbatical. But this outdoor session seemed to keep me more in the moment, wondering about the audible nature all around instead of worrying about work or kids or family needs.
While the outside massage intrigued and exceeded as a new sensation, the one I had inside the traditional spa room at Riverstone surpassed every expectation as well. The room temperature, lighting, scents and music were all subtle and sophisticated. The body work session and hot stones moved me to a point of relaxation I had never been to before. I loved the sensation of the hot stones sliding between my toes and being wrapped up in a cocoon while also being stretched. Isn’t it amazing how you can walk out of a good massage feeling like a puddle of goo yet rejuvenated, like an energetic new you, all at the same time?
I also loved leaving Riverstone Spa to find myself in the middle of activity going on inside the Buffalo Outdoor Center, where you rent canoes, check in for the keys to your cabin, and buy provisions, T-shirts, deli sandwiches, and more. The effects of a spa last a lot longer when you walk out to the vibe of nature and like-minded people enjoying it too.
For me, the Buffalo River has always felt like a bit of a fountain of youth, restoring vitality and freshness in one big inhale and exhale as I enter the valley. Now I can add the restorative benefits of a spa to that.
Masseuse magic can happen anywhere, but the Buffalo River experience can only be found at Riverstone Spa.

Spa Services:

Riverstone Signature Massage – Features a blend of massage techniques designed to lengthen and soothe the muscles, leaving you feeling more warmed, more flexible and more relaxed. You can pick your own music, and add essential oil aromatherapy at no extra charge. The cost is $85 for 60 minutes and $125 for 90 minutes. Add hot stones throughout your massage for $15. (Plus tax)
The Ultimate Upper Body Massage – This upper-body “workout” is an ideal way to loosen and warm the tight, sore muscles that create neck cricks, stiff backs and aching shoulders. The cost is $69 plus tax for 45 minutes.
Sweet Feet Mud Treat – Exfoliate, soften and warm your feet with a spa ritual featuring precious French rose clay mud. This too is $69 plus tax for 45 minutes.
Couple’s Massage Class – Build your skills together in this private, hands-on class facilitated by an experienced, personable therapist. You’ll come away with a more confident understanding of how to make your Special Someone feel even more special through head, facial, shoulder and foot techniques that can help take the edge off a hectic day. The sessions is two hours and costs $170 plus tax. The “class” is held in the spa room or add $25 to the rate for in-cabin instruction.
In-Cabin Appointments – These services can be arranged for with slightly later appointments times. Ask for availability. A charge of $30 will be added to a service for an in-cabin appointment.
To book a spa service, call the BOC store at 870-861-5514. Be sure to book in advance to insure therapist availability. The spa is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. March through October, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. November through February. Visit for more information.
If You Go:
While you can stay at Buffalo Outdoor Center, there are numerous cabins and campsites in the area, and other canoe outfitters too. Visit for more information on attractions, lodging and dining in this upper section of the 150-mile Buffalo National River.
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