48 hours on the higher Buffalo River


The strongest argument for Arkansas’s motto, “The Pure State,” the Buffalo River begins close to the very best level of the Boston Mountains in Newton County and winds its means easterly for 150 miles till it runs into the White River, in Baxter County. The entire stretch is spectacular — it wasn’t the primary to be designated a Nationwide River for no motive — however the higher portion and the encircling parkland is probably the most gorgeous. Together with the river, Ponca, Jasper and Parthenon are locations on this itinerary.

Keep within the Metal Creek Valley

Camp simply yards away from the Buffalo River because it cuts its means by towering bluffs within the Nationwide Park Service’s Metal Creek Campground northeast of Ponca. (off state Freeway 74). There’s consuming water and flush bathrooms. Or, if you happen to require a number of extra facilities, keep within the Foggy Hole Cabin, close to Low Hole, which has two bedrooms and two extra queen-sized convertible beds in a front room and loft. Massive kitchen, TV and a sizzling tub that overlooks the Metal Creek Valley, too. Or, if you happen to’re bringing alongside the grandparents, cousins and in-laws, keep within the “luxurious cabin” at Cedar Crest Lodge in Ponca (off state Freeway 43), which sleeps 20 and has an enormous multilevel again deck that connects to a bridge over Provides Creek, a tributary of the Buffalo; the bridge results in a stone pavilion that sits alongside the creek and has two out of doors fireplaces. Or, if you happen to actually need a one-of-a-kind expertise and have a lot of dough to blow, keep at Beckham Creek Cave, a luxurious lodge constructed right into a cave exterior of Parthenon. Constructed by the founding father of Celestial Seasonings as a doomsday getaway, the lodge was not too long ago given a modern renovation by new buyers. Now there’s a 75-inch TV hanging close to some stalactites, showerheads poking by the stone and an enormous gourmand kitchen replete with double convection ovens. It would have you ever feeling like a Bond villain (there’s a helicopter pad exterior to your speedy getaway). It will possibly sleep 4 {couples} in 4 bedrooms with 4 bogs. Everybody should be keen to reside excessive: Charges vary from $1,200 to $1,600 per evening. There are dozens of different cabins and lodges for hire all through the world; most require a two-day dedication and have to be booked effectively prematurely throughout the spring, summer season and fall.


A number of the most scenic paddling in mid-America is on this stretch, but it surely’s sometimes solely satisfactory from March till early June. There are canoe outfitters aplenty in Ponca and Jasper and close by. Ponca to Kyle’s Touchdown is about 10 miles lengthy and takes 4-6 hours to finish. The stretch consists of Massive Bluff and Hemmed-In Hole, the tallest bluff face and waterfall between the Rockies and Appalachians. Farther downriver, Metal Creek to Kyle’s Touchdown and Pruitt to Hasty are faster journeys which are generally nonetheless doable when the water is simply too low for Ponca to Kyle’s Touchdown.

See the elk in Boxley Valley

The Japanese Elk, native to Arkansas, went extinct within the late nineteenth century. An effort by the U.S. Forest Service to introduce Rocky Mountain Elk into Franklin County in 1933 was short-lived; the herd solely endured till the mid-Nineteen Fifties. The Arkansas Sport and Fish Fee has been extra profitable. It launched 112 Western Elk in Newton County within the early Nineteen Eighties; that herd is now estimated to quantity 450-500 and elk have been noticed in 14 Arkansas counties. However Newton County stays floor zero. Cease by the Ponca Elk Schooling Heart, operated by the AGFC, to get educated and brochured. Then head south on state Freeway 43 within the Boxley Valley, presumably the prettiest a part of all of Arkansas. There, particularly if you happen to go from dawn to round 8 a.m. or 5 p.m. till dusk, you’re prone to see some large antlers. June 1 is the height of calving season; the annual elk rut begins in mid-September and extends into November. That’s while you’ll hear bugling and see antlers colliding.

Hike the Misplaced Valley Path

After or earlier than you see the elk, you’re obligated to hike the Misplaced Valley Path. It deservedly has the popularity as Arkansas’s greatest climbing path. It’s quick and manageable with youngsters or of us with unhealthy knees, simply 2.2 miles round-trip, on a principally flat and dreamy tree-canopy-covered path. It culminates with Eden Falls and Cobb Cave, which mildly adventurous types can discover.

Lunch on the Cliff Home Inn

Take the scenic drive down from Jasper and take a meal within the restaurant with the perfect view in Arkansas. The Cliff Home Inn, on state Freeway 7, has been a North Arkansas establishment since 1967. It sits on the sting of a cliff that overlooks Arkansas’s Grand Canyon, serves up burgers and fried fish and makes a speciality of Firm’s Comin’ Pie, a mixture of pecans, whipped cream and pineapple. The restaurant is barely open March 15 by Nov. 19. It’s breakfast and dinner possibility, too.

Hike Whitaker Level Path

One other straightforward and well-liked path south of Ponca (off state Freeway 21), Whitaker Level runs round-trip about 3 miles. Nervous dad and mom might need to suppose twice about taking kids who’re inclined to go off-path. There are two routes obtainable: one by the woods and one alongside a bluff-line, however each result in Hawksbill Crag, a excessive rock outcropping that appears out to the majesty of Buffalo River nation beneath.

Dinner at Low Hole Cafe

After attending the Culinary Institute of America in New York, Nick Bottini did the rounds at eating places in large cities all around the nation (most memorable expertise, he says, was catering Liberace’s 1,800-person party in Lake Tahoe). Then he and his spouse, Marie, fell in love with Buffalo River nation. They opened Low Hole Cafe in 2012 alongside state Freeway 74. It doesn’t appear to be a lot on the surface, however inside, Bottini’s recognized for his pastas (he’s Italian) and his prime rib, served Friday and Saturday nights solely. There’s additionally ahi tuna, crimson snapper, salmon and pan-seared duck; there are burgers and such for choosy eaters, too. Examine lowgapcafe.com; like most Buffalo River companies, the cafe retains totally different hours in the summertime and winter.

Breakfast at Ozark Cafe

Get some chocolate chip pancakes or biscuits and gravy or biscuits and chocolate gravy on the Ozark Cafe, a Newton County staple, located on the sq. in Jasper since round 1909. Attempt ’em for lunch and dinner, too, for hand-cut french fries, a chocolate shake and the Excaliburger, a half-pound burger stuffed between two grilled cheese sandwiches. The cafe is open every day and hosts reside music each Saturday evening.

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