October 26, 2010

Exploring Buffalo National River, Arkansas - Part I

We have migrated down to a campground about 7 miles south of Harrison, AR to use as a home base to explore the Ozarks of northern Arkansas and most importantly the Buffalo National River. The Buffalo National River was America's first national river and is a 135-mile long unit of the National Park Service.

The bluffs rise 100-400 feet above the river
Movement to protect this wild river came in the 1950's as plans were laid out to dam every single river in the Ozarks region. Nearly every river had already been dammed, which is evident from where we were staying in Missouri previously. So, when the Buffalo River, which was a popular canoeing and float river, came to the drawing board of the Army Corps of Engineeers, many local activists, lead by Dr. Neil Compton and including Sam Walton of Wal-Mart fame fought to save the river.

The local congressman at the time, known as a master appropriator, wanted the river dammed, like he'd accomplished on several other rivers. But, when his bill was introduced into congress, it was defeated. Later, the entire river was established as an national park and several sections are designated wilderness areas.

Well, we started out visit by going to the Tyler Bend Visitor Center, located in the center of the National River area. Here we got some information about places to see and hikes to do. Those will be done later this week. But, for this day, we took a short hike along the high bluffs to get a flavor for the area.

There are some inholdings along the river, but most are just hay farms
The cliffs were actually overhangs and it was so high, that it actually caused a bit of vertigo. Obviously, we kept Hilina back several feet.

Conditions started getting really hot and humid, with temperatures approaching 80 degrees and then we could see a little thunderstorm developing. So, after one mile on the trail, we headed back.

There are prickly pears in the open rocky areas because limestone drains moisture so well

Hilina enjoying the fall colors on the trail

Back down by the river. It is low water right now because it's been such a dry late summer and autumn
So, look for more posts of our adventures within this national park unit in the days to come.

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