ARKANSAS WILD getaway adventures for two degray lake
how to play & where to stay
48 hours in hot springs
or eureka springs
wild whitewater of
JUNE 2021 ARKANSASWILD.COM
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RAFTING UPPER RICHLAND CREEK.
CHILL OUT THIS SUMMER.
ARKANSAS IS FOR LOVERS
GLAMPING, VAN CAMPING AND MORE.
DEPARTMENTS 8 OUTDOOR ESSENTIALS 10 ARKANSAS MADE 14 EXPLORE 38 #ARKANSASWILD 4 | Arkansas Wild | JUNE 2021
Make it an adventure for two this summer. (SEE Page 30)
ON THE COVER: Luxurious glamping is the new roughing it. Photography by Novo Studio.
BIKE, HIKE AND HIT THE LAKES!
Discover More of the Diamond Lakes Region this Summer.
ARKADELPHIA ♦ CADDO VALLEY ♦ GLENWOOD ♦ HOT SPRINGS ♦ MALVERN ♦ MOUNT IDA ♦ MURFREESBORO
ountain peaks for hiking, five clear lakes for playing, three sparkling rivers for enjoying, IMBA EPIC mountain bike trails for shredding, a National Park for exploring, historic hotels and cool lake resorts for overnighting…and all close to the dining, shopping, art and culture of Hot Springs National Park.
Not all rainbows are in the sky. Check out our White River excursion on page 22.
COVER PHOTOGRAPHY BY NOVO STUDIO
Visit diamondlakes.org to request a free Hot Springs/ Diamond Lakes Vacation Guide. This ad is paid for with a combination of state funds and private regional association funds.
FROM THE EDITOR
WHITE / NORFORK / KINGS
IT’S GETTING HOT OUT THERE!
COME EXPERIENCE ARKANSAS’ NEWEST FLY FISHING DESTINATION, THE KINGS RIVER
WHITE// NORFORK NORFORK / KINGS WHITE / KINGS WHITE / NORFORK / KINGS
COME EXPERIENCE ARKANSAS’ NEWEST EXPERIENCE ARKANSAS’ NEWEST COMECOME EXPERIENCE ARKANSAS’ NEWEST FLY FISHING FLY FISHING DESTINATION, DESTINATION, FLY FISHING DESTINATION, THE KINGS RIVER THE KINGS RIVER
THE KINGS RIVER
tag us with your arkansas adventures!
/ NORFORK / KINGS
NCE ARKANSAS’ NEWEST ING DESTINATION, KINGS RIVER
Welcome to the Summer edition of Arkansas WILD, where the fish are always biting, the grills are always smoking and the good times just keep coming. We’ve put together another great issue this go-round, full of things to fill up your weekends and get you outside spending time with the people you love most. Speaking of people you love, we all know the outdoors is great for spending some quiet time alone or with your family, but how about treating your significant other to a fun weekend in the wild? Our cover story provides ideas on creating that perfect couples getaway you’ve been wanting to take. We also show you what’s up in the Ouachita and Northwest Arkansas regions for things to see and do. Got 48 hours? Check out our suggestions for how to make the most of them in Eureka Springs and Hot Springs. And if you really want to know where it’s at, don’t miss our maker feature this month with an old-school way to get your bearings, anywhere in The Natural State. Wherever your travels take you in our great state this summer, don’t forget to take us along and drop us a line. We love to hear about your adventures! Wander far,
Tag us on Instagram or Facebook! Dwain Hebda Editor, Arkansas Wild
ARKANSASWILD.COM 6 | Arkansas Wild | JUNE 2021
CORRECTION: In our Spring issue, we failed to credit James Moore of Moore Visuals, courtesy of Wheelhouse Publishing, for his great photos of Mountain Home attractions. Our apologies.
WHITE STAR RIVER RETREAT ARKANSAS Perfect For: • Family vacations • Fishing Trips • Family Reunions • Corporate Retreats • Honeymoons • Quiet Getaways
WILD ARKANSASWILD.COM FOLLOW US FOR MORE WILD
Located on the White River (between Gaston’s and Bull Shoals) Whitestarriverretreat.com/ 479-871-0682 (VRBO # 563445) #ARKANSASWILD
BROOKE WALLACE Publisher firstname.lastname@example.org DWAIN HEBDA Editor email@example.com MANDY KEENER Creative Director firstname.lastname@example.org KATIE HASSELL Art Director/Digital Manager LESA THOMAS Senior Account Executive WELDON WILSON Production Manager/Controller ROLAND R. GLADDEN Advertising Traffic Manager MIKE SPAIN Advertising Art Director JORDAN LITTLE Director of Digital Strategy ROBERT CURFMAN IT Director CHARLOTTE KEY Administration
RENT A KAYAK!
JACKSON GLADDEN Circulation Director ALAN LEVERITT President
TUE - FRI 9-6 • SAT 9-5 ©2021 Arkansas Times Limited Partnership 201 E. MARKHAM ST., SUITE 150 LITTLE ROCK, AR 72201 501-375-2985 All Contents © 2021 Arkansas Wild
• KAYAKING • BACKPACKING • FLY FISHING • HIKING • APPAREL AND FOOTWEAR
501.767.1373 • 112 Blackhawk Lane • Hot Springs, AR • ouachitaoutdoors.com ARKANSASWILD.COM | 7
MORE BIKE FOR THE BUCK LOOKING FOR A WHIP THAT WON’T DRAIN YOUR WALLET? CHECK THESE OUT.
1. DIRT CURIOUS?
If you’re new to the sport and want something that will grow as your skills do, check out the Trek Marlin 5. This wallet-friendly bike offers everything to get you hooked on trails as a beginner, then feed that addiction as you progress. Looks sharp tooling around town, too. trekbikes.com
2. TOTALLY TUBULAR
Liv Cycling designs affordable bikes specifically for women, and the Tempt 4 (2021) is the latest in that effort. Great for trails or town, it’s one of the few entry bikes that come with tubelessready tires and wheels. As they say, once you go tubeless, you never go back. liv-cycling.com
3. TRAIL TAMER
8 | Arkansas Wild | JUNE 2021
4.HIT THE ROAD, JACK
In a hobby known for its shocking price tags, the Allez by Specialized is a refreshing change of pace. The sub-$1,000 ride delivers durability and comfort in a light, eye-catching package. Bicycling Editor’s Choice Best All-Around Bike in 2020. specialized.com
PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY OF VENDORS
With a tough and light aluminum frame, reliable MicroShift gears and Tektro disc brakes, the GT Aggressor Expert rivals bikes costing thousands more. And at around 500 bucks (shop around), it’s almost without peer. Get one and start enjoying the mountains. gtbicycles.com
Camp Arkansas lets adventurers plan their route with a retro flair.
OLD SCHOOL COOL NORTH LITTLE ROCK MAN BRINGS BACK THE MAP. BY DWAIN HEBDA
ost entrepreneurs these days, when they set out to build the next million-dollar mousetrap, look to technology to help get the job done. So, when Jacob Slaton looked to create something to track all of the public campgrounds in the state, one might suspect that meant hammering out some code, snapping some selfies and churning out an app to do the heavy lifting. But Slaton had an even more cutting-edge idea: Go old school with a full-sized paper map. “There’s something really cool about seeing the map flat on the table,” he said. “People don’t use maps like they used to.” Slaton, 40, created Camp Arkansas as a resource for those with a wanderlust for the outdoors and a passion for camping. A lifelong camper growing up, he’s watched the sun rise all over The Natural State, first with his dad, then his high school and college buddies and of late, his wife and three children. 10 | Arkansas Wild | JUNE 2021
A professional photographer by trade, he got the idea to develop a resource for others seeking the same adventures. “Once [my family and I] hit all of the big state parks, we started looking at other campgrounds,” he said. “What we realized was, there’s no comprehensive resource for camping in Arkansas. There’s all kinds of different websites and different apps and they all are useful in certain ways. But to my great surprise, none of them had everything on it. That frustrated me.” Slaton started out to write a guidebook, only to find that even focusing just on public sites — all 201 of them — the project would quickly collapse under its own weight. A map was the logical alternative. “The idea morphed into, well, what I really need is a map to plan out a route for visiting all of these places,” he said. “As soon as I started to put things on the map, I was like, man, this is actually pretty cool just by
itself. Why waste all this time writing a whole book, when I can release this map that basically has everything I want?” Of course, the real question was, how would something that analog be received by a generation so used to grabbing their phones for everything and anything that pops into their heads? Slaton says so far that hasn’t been a problem. “Every summer, we do, as a family, a big three-, four-, five-week-long camping trip. It’s out west, usually,” he said. “The first time we did that, I bought all these maps on Amazon and I spread them out on the table. My kids were just fascinated by them because they had never seen a map before. They just couldn’t get enough of it. I was like, man, this is really cool. If my kids are into it, then other kids will be, too.” It’s not just kids who are taken with the paper map, complete with the origami-esque folding pattern people of certain age remember
Hop in the car and rediscover all of the fun right here in your own backyard. Get inspired today and plan your trip at Arkansas.com. arkansas.com
TOGETHER FOR Better. Arkansans appreciate community. We work and raise families. Care for our neighbors. And come together in good times and bad. At First Security, that local strength is what we love best about our home state. There is commitment here. And heart. And hope. Thank you to everyone who is standing together, learning from one another, and making Arkansas a place we all love to call home.
We’re proud to be your community bank. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 11
PULL QUOTE —xxx
a place to call home for all of life’s special events.
Not just an exclusive hunting lodge for duck hunters. Five Oaks Lodge also provides a stunning backdrop for your special events and corporate retreats. Whether you’re planning an intimate wedding, elegant event or a small casual gathering, Five Oaks offers sophistication and seclusion in a pristine setting.
Book your event today! 870.873.4444 1895 Highway 152 Humphrey, AR 72073 fiveoaksducklodge.com 12 | Arkansas Wild | JUNE 2021
The maps, available through multiple outlets statewide, are tested and approved by creator Jacob Slaton and his family.
having to master. When Slaton showed a demo to his camping pals, they displayed similar enthusiasm, as have retailers who have struggled to keep the map in stock since it launched last year. “I started selling them like crazy, I literally had people picking stuff up from my house,” he said. “I’ve sold over 2,000 maps and posters around the state; I’ve got my maps in about 15 different retail shops. I’m about to get a third order of another 1,000 pretty soon.” “About 90 to 95 percent of sales are in-state or about 25 miles outside of the state of Arkansas, in southern Missouri and eastern Texas and Oklahoma and western Tennessee. And, strangely enough, I get a lot of sales from Oregon. I don’t know why.” Slaton has branched into other merchandise around his brand
and is already thinking about the next edition of his map franchise. He’s considering maps detailing campgrounds in other states and knows at some point he will have to update the Arkansas version to reflect changes in the camping landscape. The options are many, because it’s a big outdoors; all the more reason, he said, to capture it as he does. “I get frustrated on my computer screen that’s only like a 17-inch MacBook and that’s as big as the screen’s ever going to be,” he said. “I wanted to see things in largescale, full-sized 24-inch by 36inch format. I didn’t want to put it on a phone or a computer screen. I wanted the full, big size and you just can’t achieve that on a computer screen or a phone or an iPad. That’s smaller than what you really want.”
THINK TROUT... Think Stetson’s!
• Guided Trout Fishing and Rental Boats • Beautiful Cabins • Large Pool • Corporate & Large Groups/Meals • Open Year-Round
870-453-8066 • Stetsons-Resort.com Located on the White River • Flippin, Arkansas
Ad paid for using a combination of private and state matching funds.
BRAND NEW cabins with lake view!
Large porches and fire pits
Each cabin sleeps 4 – 6
Pontoon, ski boat, and wave runner rentals
Lake Norfork, AR
Only white sand beach on the lake
3291 Jordan Landing Road, Jordan, AR • 870-499-7348 • JordanMarina.com AD PAID FOR USING A COMBINATION OF PRIVATE AND STATE MATCHING FUNDS.
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 13
48 HOURS IN EUREKA SPRINGS
ARKANSAS DEPT OF PARKS HERITAGE AND TOURISM
THE GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS.
Spend a tranquil afternoon at one of Eureka Springs’ fishing holes.
hen most people think of Eureka Springs, they envision a hippy-trippy enclave of artisans and oddballs, the kind of place where gay pride activists and Great Passion Play pilgrims somehow find ways to coexist peacefully. Mostly, you think weird and wacky, as if the fresh mountain air and creative vibe has somehow gone to everybody’s heads. In truth — well, that’s just about right, happily. Plus, throw in fine food, craft beer and majestic outdoor splendor that rival anything in this corner of the state and you have the makings of a perfect weekend getaway. In a town known for unusual lodging — replete with cabins, Victorian bed and breakfasts and not one, but two allegedly haunted hotels, The Crescent and Basin Park — add the Wanderoo Lodge. What it lacks in ghosts and bric-a-brac, it more than makes up for in amenities in the lovingly restored 1920s cabins and retro-cool motel. Or, check out Iris Hill Glamping, a series of wooden pods set out among the trees that are truly one of a kind. Next, plan your float excursions through Trigger Gap Outfitters and 14 | Arkansas Wild | JUNE 2021
Float Eureka, specializing in trips that explore the Kings and White rivers. Even the mighty Buffalo River beckons, in all its glory, less than an hour away. Though it doesn’t always get popular credit for it, the fishing in and around Eureka Springs is unparalleled, with plenty of sites and species to choose from. Fish the White River below Beaver Dam for rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout as well as walleye, or between Eureka Springs and Gateway for rainbow and brownies. Wrestle monster stripers in nearby Beaver Lake or stalk three species of bass or one of a half-dozen other fish varieties. At night, relive your adventure over a cold beer. Eureka Springs boasts two local breweries — Eureka Springs Brewery and Gotahold Brewing — plus plenty of places that sport multiple taps of suds from other Arkansas brands and beyond. Sparky’s Roadhouse and Rockin’ Pig Saloon are two to try here. You can find a mountain bike route for every skill level and nerve, but Eureka Springs’ reputation for gnarly downhill courses is second to none. Behold the aptly-named Lake Leatherwood Gravity Project: trails that will push your technical
skills to the limit. Check out Adventure Mountain Outfitters for all the details on these and other bike routes. Or, if you like your two-wheeler with a little more horsepower, unleash your hog on the scenic motorcycling routes that start and end here such as the Goldwing/Highway 21 ride; the quickie Beaver Town Bridge Ride; or Dragon’s Tail or Jasper Loop. Visit Eureka Springs Harley-Davidson for all the details, and afterward find your tribe at the Cathouse Lounge, the best biker bar in all of Northwest Arkansas. In between all of this activity, don’t forget to take time to walk the streets and check out the eclectic shops. Eureka Springs’ entire downtown is hewn out of the mountainside and is, in its entirety, on the National Register of Historic Places. May we suggest a cocktail on one of the coveted perches at the Balcony Restaurant in the Basin Park Hotel or the three-story deck at New Delhi Café to start. However you choose to let your freak flag fly, Eureka Springs is the place for an unforgettable getaway. Be sure to check out eurekasprings.org for the full skinny on events this summer.
LET IT IT ALL ALL HANG HANG OUT OUT LET
People love love Eureka Eureka Springs Springs because because it’s it’s aa People place where “normal” is a relative term. Here place where “normal” is a relative term. Here are few attractions off the beaten path. are few attractions off the beaten path.
Downtown is one of a kind.
CHELSEA’S CORNER CAFE Great pizza, hot tunes and cold beer served in a one-of-a-kind atmosphere that embodies the mystic spirit of the ’Springs. Every town should have a Chelsea’s; sadly, most do not. GHOST TOURS If you have a taste for spooks and spectres, check out Haunted Eureka Springs for a look at the general ghostly population in town, while the Basin Park Hotel and Crescent Hotel and Spa also have their own spine-tingling tours.
TREETOP ADVENTURE Sail over (and through) the treetops at Ozark Mountain Ziplines which launches its 10 lines of canopy tours from cliffs. There’s no end to the adrenaline. GO UNDERGROUND Beneath the city lie tunnels and passageways that are as much a part of community lore as the vibrant art and natural world on the surface. Check it out via the Downton-N-Underground walking tour. Or, for a different perspective entirely, spend a night at Eureka Live Underground bar, where everyone is fabulous.
Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism
be you. be well. It takes strong lungs to call in the ducks.
Get the help you need to quit tobacco, lower your blood pressure or manage diabetes. Learn more at BeWellArkansas.org.
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 15
ARKANSAS DEPT OF PARKS HERITAGE AND TOURISM
Take a downtown stroll to cap a great evening.
48 HOURS IN HOT SPRINGS SPA ARE YOU EX
ew cities in Arkansas fit the word “wild” from as many different angles as Hot Springs. The famed Spa City has been a center for entertainment and recreation since before the Civil War, when local farmboys would race their fastest ponies on a Garland County pasture that would later be home to Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort. Throughout its history, Hot Springs lived up to a ribald reputation for drink, gambling and general carousing, sanctioned by corrupt city officials and enjoyed by everyone from professional baseball players to professional killers in the form of big-name gangsters. Things have tamed considerably, but everything old in Hot Springs is new again, especially with the return of casino gambling and millions in new investment pouring into the downtown historic district. No matter what your diversion, Hot Springs offers plenty of options for a memorable weekend. Follow your outdoor fancy, be it in the woods, on the trails or floating and boating the lakes around Hot Springs. If 16 | Arkansas Wild | JUNE 2021
it’s boating you’re after, take your pick from Lake Hamilton, DeGray Lake, Lake Catherine or Lake Ouachita for fishing, cruising or just dropping anchor and listening to the waves. Bring your own watercraft or check out a rental at one of the many marinas dotting the shoreline — Hot Springs Marina, Kahuna Bay and Greg Orr Marine, to name a few. If river traffic is more your speed, schedule a fly-fishing or wade excursion with a local guide. Ouachita Fly Anglers Co. and Catch’em All are just a couple of the certified river rats who know where to find largemouth and smallmouth bass and more. A great day on the water ends with a great watering hole. Check out Bubba’s Brews on Lake Hamilton for craft beer, surprising good pub grub and a relaxed atmosphere. Dock at the Back Porch Grill for a tasty steak, or Fisherman’s Wharf for fresh seafood as you watch the sun set over the water. Hikers and mountain bikers will find plenty to love around Hot Springs, too. Within Hot Springs National Park, find
the Hot Springs and North Mountain trails, composed of relatively short, interconnected trails easily accessible via the grand staircase behind Fordyce Bathhouse, Hot Springs Mountain Drive and the Gulpha Gorge campground. The West Mountain trails are less traveled, providing greater opportunities for wildlife sightings. Access this path via Whittington Park and the Canyon Trailhead. The Sunset Trail is the longest trail in Hot Springs National Park, covering approximately 10 miles one way or via a 15- to 17-mile loop. Due to the length of this trail, it is frequently broken up into three separate sections: West Mountain (2.8 miles), Sugarloaf Mountain (2.6 miles), and Stonebridge Road (3.8 miles). Or, visit Garvan Woodland Garden, one of the most breathtaking attractions you’ll find anywhere. You’ll get your steps in while touring the impeccable gardens any time of year. Mountain bikers also find an embarrassment of riches, as Hot Springs
DISCOVER MORE OF THE DIAMOND LAKES REGION THIS SUMMER. Your Harbor for Healing MASSAGE THERAPIES HOLISTIC THERAPIES FACIAL THERAPIES AND SKINCARE BODY THERAPIES RESERVATIONS RECOMMENDED
(870) 867-1220 TURTLECOVESPA.COM 181 CLUBHOUSE DR., MOUNT IDA, AR
Mountain Harbor Resort & Spa on Lake Ouachita 870-867-2191 • 800-832-2276 MountainHarborResort.com
Guided Kayak Tours on Lake Ouachita. Relax! Explore! Enjoy!
• Half-Day & Full Day Tours • Individual & Group Tours • Inexperienced kayakers and kids are welcome
BOOK NOW! (501) 725-2925
Iron Mountain Lodge & Marina on DeGray Lake 870-246-4310 • Iron-Mountain.com
TAKE A SHORT SCENIC DRIVE TO VISIT OUACHITA ARTISTS IN MOUNT IDA! Find unique items made by local artists, art classes, informative demonstrations and ArtRageous evenings where you can create and experiment with many mediums and techniques. 135 S. West Street Mount Ida, AR 870-867-3115 www.ouachitaartists.org
Self Creek Lodge & Marina on Lake Greeson • 870-398-5000 866-454-7353 • SelfCreek.com
Visit diamondlakes.org to request a free Hot Springs/Diamond Lakes Vacation Guide.
ARKADELPHIA ♦ CADDO VALLEY ♦ GLENWOOD ♦ HOT SPRINGS ♦ MALVERN ♦ MOUNT IDA ♦ MURFREESBORO This ad is paid for with a combination of state funds and private regional association funds. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 17
TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT
Garvan, ‘gators and grub all await in the Spa City.
has steadily built a solid reputation for biking trails. Hot Springs Creek Greenway and Entergy Park cater to beginners; Iron Mountain and Northwoods offer a little something for everyone, while Womble and Ouachita National Recreation routes serve intermediate to advanced thrillseekers. Plus, there’s a thriving bike shop community here to tune up your ride or rent or sell you a whole new kit. Check out Parkside Cycle, Spa City Cycling or Hot Springs Bicycle Touring Co. for local expertise, trail tips and great customer service. For your evening’s refreshment, Hot Springs offers plenty of unique dining experiences that are known regionally 18 | Arkansas Wild | JUNE 2021
and nationally. DeLuca’s is regularly cited as one of the best pizzerias in the country and locals also swear by Rocky’s Corner and Rod’s Pizza Cellar as longtime staples. Go spiffy with steakhouses The Porterhouse, Bones Chophouse or 501 Prime or get down and dirty at McClard’s Bar-B-Q, an Arkansas institution. Then swing over for a nightcap at the historic Ohio Club or Maxine’s, two establishments with backstories as tasty as their cocktails. Finally, with things loosening up, bet on Hot Spring’ full slate of festivals and community celebrations to be back in a big way. Check out hotsprings.org for activities and plan your trip accordingly. Any time of year, Hot Springs will show you a really great time.
Maxwell Blade’s Theatre of Magic Celebrating 25 years of amazed audiences Maxwell Blade is an evening of family-friendly fun. Combining music, comedy and illusion, it’s a show like no other in Arkansas Check out this long-running favorite downtown in the historic and completely renovated Malco Theatre. The Gangster Museum of America Hot Springs was once the private playground of Al Capone, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and Charles “Lucky” Luciano as remote surroundings and City Hall’s talent for turning a blind eye to booze and gambling made it the ideal hoodlum hangout. Learn all about this colorful period at the Gangster Museum. Best Court Get a room with some style! Best Court offers fully restored 1930s-era lodging with modern conveniences. The cottages offer free Wi-Fi, air conditioning and cable TV while retaining the décor and charm of the era. Rumor has it DiMaggio and Monroe favored the corner suite. Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo When was the last time you handled live baby gators and saw the big ones up close at feeding time? That’s what we thought. At the Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo, such one-of-akind encounters happen daily, along with assorted other critters that won’t eat you for lunch. Redbeard’s Living Canvas For times when the routine souvenir just won’t do, visit Redbeard’s Living Canvas where the in-house colorful characters have been doing their thing for more than 25 years. Hey, it’s your skin; better stick with folks who know what the hell they’re doing.
ARKANSAS DEPT OF PARKS HERITAGE AND TOURISM
Vacations are no fun without variety and sampling the local flavor. Here are a few of the offbeat attractions to soak in when visiting Hot Springs. Dare to be different!
DISCOVER MORE OF THE DIAMOND LAKES REGION THIS SUMMER. PRODUCTS FROM ARKANSAS, MADE IN ARKANSAS, AND RELATING TO ARKANSAS
$1 Off Admission AlligatorFarmZoo.com • Handcrafted Jewelry • Stained and Blown Glass • Food and Wine
• Razorback Items • Custom-Made Knives • Natural Resources
610-C Central Avenue, Hot Springs www.allthingsarkansas.com
847 Whittington Ave, Hot Springs, AR 71901
EXPERIENCE. ADVENTURE. TOGETHER.
Hot Springs Off-Road Park is a 1,242-acre trail system for 4-Wheel Drive Vehicles, UTVs, ATVs, and Dirt Bikes in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Campground includes Cabins, RV Spots, Overlanding, Tent Sites, Showers, Event Pavilion, and Convenience Store. Open year round.
5/25/21 2:07 PM
Nightly Rental Homes Available Now!
Call 501-922-3777! HotSpringsVillageHouses.com
www.HotSpringsOffRoadPark.com • 501-625-3600
BEST BURGERS AND DOGS ON CENTRAL AVENUE
RE/MAX of Hot Springs Village, 1400 DeSoto Blvd., Hot Springs Village, AR 71909 | 800-364-9007
We are kid and pet friendly. Offering fresh, never frozen Angus hand pressed burgers. We also serve Nathan’s hotdogs, fries, onion rings, and milk shakes. What more could you want out of a burger joint? Open 7 days a week 10am-4pm
5/25/21 2:13 PM
BEAUTIFUL CABINS OVERLOOKING THE OUACHITA RIVER! Canoeing • Kayaking • Hot Tubs • Fishing • Biking • ATV Trails • Horseback Riding
408 Central Ave, Hot Springs • @bubbalus • (501) 321-0101 Across the street from Quapaw Bathhouse
870-326-4630 Oden, Arkansas RiverViewCabins.com
Visit diamondlakes.org to request a free Hot Springs/Diamond Lakes Vacation Guide.
ARKADELPHIA ♦ CADDO VALLEY ♦ GLENWOOD ♦ HOT SPRINGS ♦ MALVERN ♦ MOUNT IDA ♦ MURFREESBORO This ad is paid for with a combination of state funds and private regional association funds.
Andy Monfee (left) Bob Dale QuinnBurris (right)make helps a client with the day’s catch. and the tight squeeze riding the wild Upper Richland Creek.
ADVENTURE ON UPPER RICHLAND CREEK.
he water level tomorrow might be up enough for a float on Upper Richland Creek,” read a recent text from my pal Stewart Noland. “Are you interested in joining us?” “Just tell me when and where!” came my excited reply. Southwest Paddler boasts, “Richland Creek may well be the most beautiful part of the beautiful state of Arkansas.” So, asking if I’m interested is a no-brainer. Paddlers also described Richland as, “too fast, furious and unforgiving for all but the real experts.” So, with my kayak/open boat skills falling well short of “expert,” I knew the only way I would experience those rapids was in a raft with an ultra-experienced boater like Noland. One of the traits that makes Upper Richland Creek so challenging is the 60- to 80-foot-per-mile drop in elevation, nearly double that of most whitewater streams in the state. This fall makes for a swift, adrenaline-packed thrill ride for those possessing the skills to negotiate it safely. The downside of the steep descending grade is the runoff is so quick, boaters almost have to be on the water as rain is falling to experience an acceptable water level. The following morning, our group was locked, loaded and ready to launch after a 6:30 a.m. water level check
20 | Arkansas Wild | JUNE 2021
to confirm the forecast of overnight rain. It turned out the weather-guessers had missed the predicted rainfall, as the gauge at Richland Creek Campground measured only 3.25 feet. Our rafts required a minimum of 3.5 feet. Regardless, with rain on the radar to the west, Noland decided it was a go. Plan B was to float Lower Richland Creek — which required only 3 feet — if the rain fell short. The gamble paid off. The gauge read 3.5 feet as we pushed the pair of Super Pumas rafts into Richland’s swirling, turbid waters. With leaves and debris drifting alongside our craft — a sign that the water level was still rising — we believed it would be a good day on the creek. Richland Creek flows through Richland Creek Wilderness and is also designated a National Wild and Scenic River. Once the adventure had begun, the natural Ozark wilderness bordering each bank and countless waterfalls tumbling down the 200-plus-foot bluffs proved even more picturesque than I had anticipated. The approach to Big Bluff was reminiscent of floating The Narrows on the Buffalo River. The current carries boaters head-on in the direction of the imposing bluff, only to create a pillow wave when hitting the rock,
BY BOB ROBINSON
pushing your boat away, either avoiding or lightly kissing the rock face. This bluff is the gateway to the gorge where rock walls narrowed and the channel’s tempo picked up, bringing swifter currents and 2- to 3-foot drops. Road Block Rock was the first of many multimaneuver sections. During the flood of 2008, the current washed a massive rock into the middle of the drop, creating dangerous undercut currents on each side. Rounding a turn on the approach, the obstacle is not visible to floaters and many are often caught unprepared. This being Noland’s 71st excursion down Upper Richland, however, he was aware of the blockage and smoothly navigated the preferred slot on river right. As the pace quickened from the increased volume of feeder tributaries, and with numerous boulder gardens blocking the narrow channels, maneuvering the raft through the maze of obstacles inspired flashbacks of playing the old Pac-Man video game. Crack-in-theRock, Flume, Knucklebuster and many other features made for nonstop action as I witnessed firsthand how they earned these colorful names. The 6- to 8-foot drop at Richland Falls stood out from the others with the adrenaline rush of Noland’s raft evenly balancing on the brink of the ledge, both bow and stern out of the water. A companion craft’s human cargo also felt their pulse race after their boat dropped off the ledge. The craft master stretched his paddle out port side until only his lower leg was in contact with the raft, fighting to straighten their vessel. Although it is tempting to relax after conquering Richland Falls, the Class III rapids of Cindy’s Hole, Apple Pie, Maytag, Upper and Lower Screw-Ups are still to come. Boaters cannot let up until reaching the takeout at the campground bridge, making for a ride as physically and mentally exhausting as it is exhilarating. My Richland Creek Adventure surpassed my wildest expectations. With the water level already dropping by the time we hauled the rafts back to our vehicles, I realized how lucky our timing had been. I was thankful, once again, to be living in The Natural State.
Stewart Noland makes it look easy (top). Burris, Noland and Monfee (left to right) celebrate a safe landing.
RIDE THE LIGHTNING People who know paddling know Upper Richland is nothing to cut your teeth on. The stretch includes Class III to Class V rapids that even seasoned whitewater paddlers should take seriously. The following are some guidelines for making it home alive: Water levels are adequate for rafts when the gauge at the Richland Campground bridge is about 3.5 feet. Kayaks and open boats can normally run at levels 6 inches lower. Consult the Arkansas Canoe Club website (arkansascanoeclub.com) for creek level gauges and other pertinent information. Put-in is at the Forest Service Road (FSR) 1203, just north of the community of Ben Hur (Newton County). Shuttles for the takeout continue north on FSR 1203, east on FSR 1200, then south on FSR 1205 to the takeout
at Richland Creek Campground. The approach from the south on FSR 1205 recently suffered a landslide and may not be passable. Those unfamiliar with the creek should paddle with a minimum of three boats, each of which should include others who are familiar with the run. In no case should you attempt this stretch unless experienced running Class IV water. Hazards include undercuts, downed wood, strong hydraulics and other obstacles typically encountered on whitewater streams. Watch your water levels and weather as well; Richland Creek can flash quickly. Don’t be a hero! If water levels or other conditions become unsafe during your float, bail out and hike back to a shuttle location. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 21
AGFC NATURE CENTERS A GREAT WAY TO ENJOY FAMILY FUN THIS SUMMER The latest member of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commision family of Nature Centers opened in December to much fanfare. The J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center in Springdale drew rave reviews for its size, scope and amenities for Arkansans throughout Northwest Arkansas. Ozark Highlands is the fifth AGFC Nature Center in the state, all of which share the mission of providing a jumpingoff point for visitors to experience the natural world, learn about conservation and enjoy outdoor recreation. The new 32,000-square-foot facility, located on about 61 acres, was completed at a cost of $20.1 million, made possible by an extensive public-private partnership and spearheaded by a $5 million pledge from the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt family of Rogers. In all, more than $14 million in private funding, land donations and federal grants were secured to make the center a reality. “I thought of my years growing up in Heber Springs in Cleburne County, hiking in the woods, swimming in the little streams and river and being outdoors from morning until night,” said Johnelle Hunt upon touring the facility for the first time. “It is one of the things that has bothered me is that our children do not get that opportunity to know nature the way
we did. We have so many things in Northwest Arkansas to be thankful for. I am so thankful that this is another one of those things we will be able to add to it.” The new center, described as the “crown jewel” of the AGFC fleet, is the largest among the five centers statewide. Included are live wildlife displays, high-tech interactive exhibits, an indoor archery range, a BB gun marksmanship center and an extensive outdoor 3D archery range. A variety of educational activities will also be held here, in outdoor pavilions that double as classrooms or along the site’s nature trail. Commission Chairman Andrew Parker said the new center was a triumph for families in the region and invited one and all to come experience it, along with the state’s other centers, with their children. This, he said, is a crucial step in handing down an appreciation for the state’s ecosystems. “These centers are an important component of future conservation,” Parker said. “They act as a launching point for getting kids and adults connected to nature, part classroom and part playground. In order for conservation agencies to be successful, we have to have funding and that funding comes from people who fundamentally care about the conservation of these resources. These nature centers help build a solid base of conservationists for the next generation.
All AGFC Nature Centers are free, thanks to the 1/8th cent Conservation Sales Tax, passed in 1996. Other sites include: Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center, Fort Smith
Built on 170 acres of what was Fort Chaffee, the building is surrounded by hickory and oak trees and offers a series of trails as well as Wells Lake, a popular fishing destination. Visitors can also watch for wildlife attracted to feeders and a circulating stream near the corner of the building. Exhibits include representations of the Ouachita and Ozark mountains, a life-sized oak tree exhibit crawling with game and nongame animal displays and a 1,200-gallon aquarium with native Arkansas fish. Interactive displays and exhibits round out the educational programs.
Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, Little Rock
Located in the River Market, the center boasts 16,232 square feet of space on 3.4 acres overlooking the Arkansas River. The center focuses on Arkansas’s wide variety of outdoor recreational opportunities via exhibits that highlight the role of fish and wildlife management and many Arkansas Game and Fish Commission projects. Its location allows many watchable wildlife activities within an urban area with basking water turtles, butterflies and migrating pelicans as common sights. A portion of the Arkansas River Trail crosses the site, beautified by beds of native plants. Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center, Jonesboro
Situated on the southern edge of Jonesboro, the Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center tells the story of a unique ridge perched atop the Mississippi Delta through indoor and outdoor exhibits, films and trails. The 17,033-square-foot, three-story facility opened in August 2004. It features a three-story education, exhibit and meeting facility on 160 acres. The center adjoins the southern boundary of Craighead Forest Park and includes a 5.5-acre prairie, 2.5-acre pond and approximately 100 acres of woodlands. Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center, Pine Bluff
The Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center sits between Lake Saracen and Lake Langhofer, combining the best of museum, aquarium, laboratory, nature store, hiking trail, bird-watching facility, wildlife photography location and environmental education facility into one location. Native fish can be seen in the 20,000-gallon aquarium as well as native reptiles and amazing birds of prey housed at the facility. Walking the trails, visitors can view a variety of birds, mammals, reptiles and insects, as well as many interesting and beautiful species of native plants. *MASKS ARE OPTIONAL
FIND YOUR HAPPY PLACE. By Richard Ledbetter
DeGray Lake is a tranquil, relaxing getaway.
nly a half-dozen miles off Interstate 30 at the Caddo Valley exit, DeGray Lake is a short hour’s drive from Little Rock. Its pristine waters lie among the undulating, tree-covered Ouachita Mountains, a place that engenders much affection among outdoors enthusiasts. “DeGray is Arkansas’s premier state park resort,” said head park interpreter David Armstrong. “You can spend all week and never be concerned about keeping the whole family outfitted, fed or entertained. We have everything for everyone.” The site was scouted for utilities development as early as 1909 when businessman Harvey Couch, founder of Arkansas Power and Light, considered the location for a hydroelectric dam. Couch, a former railroad postman turned utilities baron, constructed similar dams at sites originally surveyed for railroad trestles, such as Lake Catherine’s Remmel Dam in 1924 and Carpenter Dam, which formed Lake Hamilton by 1933. While Couch did not build here, Congress ultimately would, authorizing what would become DeGray Dam in 1950 and appropriating the funds to build it in 1961. Construction began in 1963 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the massive project was completed in 1972, flooding 13,400 acres of the Caddo River Valley between Hot Springs and Arkadelphia. Today, DeGray Lake State Park Resort and Marina includes a lodge offering 96 luxury rooms and a conference center along with a restaurant providing one of the finest 24 | Arkansas Wild | JUNE 2021
panoramic views anywhere. There’s also 15 boat ramps and 700 campsites ranging from full hook-ups to primitive tent accommodations. For those who may find roughing it a bit much or the lodge too comfortable, a third option is now available. Yurts (year-round universal camping tents) sleep up to eight people comfortably and include a water pedestal, butane stove, electricity and fans. The nearby bathhouse provides convenient facilities located right on the shoreline with spacious wooden decks. The park offers a neighboring 18-hole golf course and a new disc golf range starting at the Visitors Center and making a figure eight through the front and back nine. The disc course is free, and loaner discs are available. Other services include bird hikes, kayaking tours, primitive fire-starting instruction and island exploration. An introduction to stand-up paddle boarding class is also coming online, and there’s even whitewater tubing and canoeing below DeGray Dam on the cool waters of the Caddo River past sandy beaches perfect for a day of swimming, sunbathing or just plain relaxing. “We offer all kinds of activities and programs to the public, especially in the summer,” said park interpreter Kayla Gomance. “Islands tours include Tarantula Island, which is our tallest and hosts a healthy population of Texas ground tarantulas. Rabbit Island is included in the Islets Paddle Trail, which begins at the marina and makes a big loop.
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“Another great activity for the whole family is the geocache sites in and around the lake. The treasure hunt is on every trail and stashed on islands.” On the lake’s southern shore is Iron Mountain Resort and Marina. Second-generation operator Charlie Egleston grew up here and holds a deep appreciation for the special environment he calls home. Altogether, Iron Mountain has 19 log cabin rental units and docks containing 600 total boat slips for everything from sailboats to luxury yachts. And there’s been some new neighborhood attractions of late. “Arkansas is a destination for cyclists and the new mountain bike trails here are a huge draw.” Egleston said. “A private individual Fred Phillips, along with DLT Event Management designed the 30-mile network. They began building in 2008 and just completed in January.” Anglers have long coveted DeGray Lake for striper and crappie fishing in summertime, with numerous local guides leading newcomers to prime spots. Meanwhile, wildlife watchers know the state park for another magnificent creature: the bald eagle. Eagle tours, suspended last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, are expected to return in November for migration season, Armstrong said. Even in the secluded solitude of the state park, you’re never far from the comforts of modern life, especially when it comes to food. Regardless of how the fish are biting, you’ll find your catch of the day at the landmark O’Keefe’s Fish Net Restaurant in Caddo Valley. Or fuel up for your hike at Ludwig’s Bakery, an Arkadelphia family operation serving German-style pastries. Other tasty treasures, from BBQ to Mexican to home cooking, are scattered throughout the area. For getting back to nature with convenience and ease, DeGray Lake is a prime resource for hiking and biking, camping and fishing, and every other facet of nature. “I tell people if you don’t participate in any other program, don’t miss the sunset tour on our 30-seat custom pontoon boat,” Armstrong said. “Sunsets on DeGray are not to be missed.” 26 | Arkansas Wild | JUNE 2021
A treehouse yurt is the ultimate in overnighting at DeGray (above). New bike trails lend excitement to any stay,
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If you are looking for a rustic retreat near the Buffalo National River at Tyler Bend, look no further than Bear Creek Log Cabins. There are six cabins scattered over hundreds of acres, all with access to the fishing holes of Bear Creek—a tributary to the Buffalo—right on the property. The ranch is about five minutes south of Middle Buffalo access areas and the Ozark Highland Trail, but you will also find plenty of trails right on the Bear Creek property for hiking, biking or ATV use. It is a photographer’s paradise, with sweeping views of the buttresses that line the creek and wildlife on every adventure. The nearby private Lake House property, with a 22-acre stocked lake with dock and fishing boat right out the back door, is also a favorite location for all ages. The spacious cabins feature native rock fireplaces, outdoor fire pits, charcoal grills, full kitchens, linens, flat screen tvs with satellite reception (including SEC and ESPN channels), wi-fi and heat/ air that will accommodate up to 52 guests. Bear Creek is open year-around, offers hunting in season, and is pet-friendly. Special winter discount rates are available in January and February. Bear Creek Log Cabins will quickly become your goto getaway destination.
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28 | Arkansas Wild | JUNE 2021
Make it the Summer of Love in the tranquil, romantic Arkansas outdoors.
arkansas is for lovers
DISCOVER GETAWAYS FOR JUST THE TWO OF YOU. By Dwain Hebda Photography by Novo Studio
Often, outdoor activities are cast as solitary pursuits — just you and your thoughts and a fishing line or hunting deer and turkey alone. Sometimes, it’s with a group of buddies or taking the family on a camping trip. All well and good, but that’s not the whole of it. Arkansas is also a land of romance. From gurgling streams to breathtaking sunsets, it’s an environment perfect for couples to take in and enjoy together. On the next few pages. find some suggestions for that perfect weekend — just you and your beloved — and let nature take its course.
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 29
For something different, schedule a horseback tour followed by relaxing at a winery.
adventure awaits A weekend in the wild can be complicated to set up, especially for beginners. Sure, you’ve read in the pages of Arkansas WILD how great the trails and the water are, but how do you actually get there? It’s a conundrum Danny Collins, co-founder and master guide of Fayettevillebased 37 North Excursions, sees frequently. “The two fundamental beginnings of 37 North are still very true today,” he said. “One is to be an alternative form of socialization, something outside your standard eating and drinking. And the second was really to make the outdoors accessible to all.” Since 2018, the company has accomplished this mission by leading excursions and custom-built adventure packages in Arkansas. Clients can choose from a calendar of ready-made excursions or create their own private itinerary limited only by the client’s imagination, budget and spirit of adventure “One of the biggest things for us is, don’t be intimidated by the activities for not fitting into the stereotype of what a kayaker looks like, for instance,” said Cristina Bustamante, co-founder. “If you’re eager to try and you’re wanting to try, we’re going to make it work for you to try. We’re going to start super-beginner friendly. Don’t be intimidated by what everybody thinks a hiker, a kayaker or a paddleboarder looks like. If you’re wanting to really do it, we’re going to make sure you can do it.” While gaining these new skills, guests also gain a new appreciation for conservation and responsible use of the outdoors. “I’m a firm believer in conservation through education. To me, that means the more people we can help fall in love with our great outdoors, the more people are going to want to allocate resources and protect it,” Collins said. “Therefore, the more people that fall in love with the outdoors, the better the outdoors will be, in general.” 37 North Expeditions 37northexpeditions.com
30 | Arkansas Wild | JUNE 2021
Explore. St A D V S E E P N O
Going out into the wilderness to try something new can be an intimidating (not to mention expensive) experience. That’s where 37 North Excursions comes in, providing customized adventures to match the client’s skills and interests, company co-founder Danny Collins said. CHOOSE YOUR ADVENTURE: We have two very distinct parts of our company. One is a single-ticket sale platform where you can choose by activity and date. It’s a first touchpoint to see there’s a lot more than just hiking in the Ozarks, at very little risk. So, even if you hated fly-fishing, at most you lost $50 and you still got a brewery tour and got to hang outside with others. We also do a ton of private stuff, and every one of those can be customized for what you’re looking to do, whether that’s a multisport, multiday, or single-day, single-sport, single-activity.
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glamp it up
If the thought of camping in a pup tent doesn’t do it for you, there’s a whole new way to go these days. Glamping (glamorous camping) is a trend that’s sweeping the country, offering accommodations for people who want the outdoor experience without sacrificing amenities. That’s exactly the mission of Ouachita Wilde Luxury Tents of Mena, a business that launched late last summer and has quickly become a favorite option for enjoying the outdoors. From climate-controlled tents to memory foam mattresses, roughing it never looked so good. “We had a girl who was proposing to her boyfriend and she had all these ideas so we got her all set up,” said Stacie Bartow, who founded Ouachita Wilde with daughter Madison. “We’ve had honeymoon couples. We have a bridal suite we’re setting up at the lake in July. We don’t have to just do a bedroom setup, we can do a lounge, bridal showers. We would love to do a wedding backdrop.” Demand for the luxury setups was strong right out of the gate. Bartow said pandemic conditions made people long to get out and get away, a sentiment that knew no boundaries. “From the very beginning we had people booking who were locals. Then we put it on Airbnb and we have a lot of people coming in from other states,” she said. “We pretty well stay booked up. We haven’t had anybody who’s been unhappy with their stay so far.” Bartow said the business works with people who have their sites already picked out as well as finding locations for those not familiar with the area. For less than the cost of a nice hotel room, Ouachita Wilde handles all details, right down to table service and fresh linens. “We try to include most everything you’ll want,” Bartow said. “We try to keep the price ‘surprise-free.’” Ouachita Wilde Luxury Tents Ouachitawilde.com
32 | Arkansas Wild | JUNE 2021
Glamping offers all outdoor living with the comforts of home.
Stacie Bartow, co-owner of Ouachita Wilde Luxury Tents in Mena, has a lot of outdoor inventory to recommend to her guests for a couples weekend, starting with the areas around nearby Lake Ouachita, frequented by her guests.
LOCAL ATTRACTIONS: At Lake Ouachita, we recommend Hickory Nut Vista; a lot of people like to hike there and I love that one. Everyone who has gone enjoyed it. If the couple is into mountain biking, the Womble is there. It’s a world-renowned trail and people come from all over the world to ride it. Here in Mena, I recommend Queen Wilhelmina State Park; there’s hiking there, there’s great coffee shops here in town, you can rent four-wheelers here.
WHERE TO EAT: There’s just great things to do here in Mena. For restaurants, most people will tell you The Ouachitas; the atmosphere is great, they have a microbrewery, which is great in a dry county. They’re also a nice coffee shop and they have really good pizzas, too. People love it. Another good place for couples is Little Italy; they have a beautiful back patio area that I always recommend. HIDDEN GEM: Little Missouri Falls. It’s about a 30-minute drive toward Shady and it’s a really beautiful hiking trail. I always recommend it. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 33
the magic bus When it comes to a couples getaway, getting there can be half the fun. Open Road Camper Vans underscores that philosophy with tricked-out vans that get you where you’re going with the amenities of an RV in a much smaller, easier-to-handle package. James Henson and Bill Harris, who started the Fayetteville company last year as a rental outfit, said the demand for the vehicles has skyrocketed. “We opened for business in the middle of May 2020 with three rentals and our first full custom build hit in August,” Harris said. “It went live on social media in the fall and people started hitting us up from all over. We’ve got four or five guys working now and we’re as busy as we can be.” Both founders said the pandemic fueled demand as people looked to get out safely and in style. Their vans, generally built from stock Dodge Ram ProMaster, Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter models, check both boxes. With luxury appointments, custom seating, cabinetry and special electrical systems to power camping gear and charge electronics, the vans are proving to be the way of the future both during the workweek and on holiday. “People who work from home now are mixing the luxury of travel with work, and in our vans they can do both,” Henson said. “Even if the pandemic didn’t happen, it was about time for the lifestyle to transition to the U.S. from Europe where it has been popular for some time now.” Open Road Camper Vans openroad.cool
“while a couple can really get away, you’ve still got space for your toys.” 34 | Arkansas Wild | JUNE 2021
Cocktail hour can happen anytime, anywhere with this custom ride.
HIT THE ROAD
Every destination is more fun with a relaxing, comfortable way to get there. Open Road Camper Vans founders James Henson and Bill Harris shared some of their favorite jaunts, accessible by their custombuilt rigs. GET ACTIVE: HARRIS: There’s so many good spots for couples. I like the Mulberry River area; there are just so many things to do and see there. Obviously, the Buffalo River area. If you’re into climbing, go to the Jasper area, Horseshoe or Candy Mountain. Kayakers, go to the Mulberry or Kings rivers. Big Piney Creek also gets you some really good, high-level runs and the river’s always flowing. That’s my kayaking spot. HENSON: One place that comes to mind where you never see too many people is White Rock. You’ve got great biking and hiking, climbing and views of the Ozarks. STAY CONNECTED: HARRIS: The nice thing about traveling with our vans is, while a couple can really get away, you’ve still got space for your toys. You’ve got solar charging for your appliances so you’ve got cold drinks, food, a stove, all your hobby toys and your mobile. Really, anything’s possible. FUEL UP: HENSON: Going towards White Rock, I think it’s called the Pig Trail Bypass Cafe. The guy who owns it is named Hoosh, so we call it Hoosh’s. He’s famous for the Hooshburger, made from local, grass-fed beef from a farm up the road. HARRIS: In Jasper, Ozark Cafe is good. Low Gap Cafe is pretty impressive. You go in thinking it’s going to be greasy and nasty, but they’ve got a guy who was a 4-star chef that makes amazing food. Like in-season seafood, good steaks. HENSON: Shout out to my favorite brewery, Crisis, in Fayetteville. They’ve got really good beer. My favorite is the Identity IPA.
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 35
From outdoor adventures to indoor elegance, Five Oaks sets the tone.
grand times on the grand prairie
Five Oaks in Humphrey has established itself as one of the premier duck clubs in Arkansas, delivering gourmet food and luxury accommodations to generations of guests. Yet many people have never get the chance to experience this legendary spot, especially outside of duck season. That is, until now. “I’ve always loved celebrations,” said Hillary Dunklin Hornor, daughter of Five Oaks owner George Dunklin. “My mom and I love to make events super-focused on a person. At Christmas my dad was saying it’s a shame the lodge is only used for 60 days a year, so we thought about how we could make this happen and Five Oaks Events came to fruition.” Hornor, director of Five Oaks Events, said the esteemed lodge is beginning a schedule of events for the rest of the year outside duck season which will cater to hunters and non hunters alike, as well as corporate retreats, weddings and other group gatherings. The idea came from the long line of Dunklin family events held at the club through the years, and got a test run with Hornor’s own wedding during the pandemic. “For me, Five Oaks was a place where I got to gather with amazing people for great times,” Hornor said. “We spent most every holiday there, we held our prom and graduation dinners there. When I was in college at SMU, I loved the opportunity to bring my friends from Dallas to Five Oaks.” “My husband and I even met during a New Years Eve party out here when my parents set us up. Then last year, our wedding plans fell through, but we wanted to keep our date so we got to say, ‘I do’ and have our reception here. Our hope is Five Oaks will help other people create their own special memories.” Five Oaks fiveoaksducklodge.com 36 | Arkansas Wild | JUNE 2021
www.starshoppernwa.com #faroutstars Star Shopper established 1973. MORE THAN JUST DUCKS
Five Oaks Events ’ new social calendar will introduce a whole new category of events and entertainment, said Hillary Dunklin Hornor, director of events. While during duck season the legendary lodge will host hunters, the rest of the year is open to new programming, including corporate retreats, wedding receptions, various parties and gettogethers. ELEGANT DINNERS One social season event is called Fridays at Five Oaks. It’s going to be like a dinner club with cocktail hour and skeet shooting, then dinner, dessert and fireworks. Those are kinds of events I love hosting and it will provide a perfectly elegant evening for couples, a nice getaway on a Friday night. AWARD-WINNING FOOD We have a partnership with the Pine Bluff Country Club, and we will continue to use them for our dinners and to serve our retreat and private event clientele. It will also be fun to offer cooking classes in the future, wine pairings, things like that to provide a unique experience for our guests. LAY OF THE LAND We sit on 3,500 acres of land here, and there’s lots to do outside of hunting season. There’s biking, hiking and we’re talking about doing a conservation tour to talk about behind the scenes that Five Oaks does to attract waterfowl in the wintertime. We’ve also thought about horseback riding, we’ve got timber and bass fishing, a tennis court, a skeet shooting range. You can see alligators and bald eagles, there’s all kind of things.
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EXPLORING THE OUTDOORS OUR FAVORITE PHOTOS—SUBMITTED BY YOU. Tag Arkansas Wild in your outdoor adventure photos.
Devil’s Den ney n & Mark Mcken Jessica Rockso
Hemmed-In Hollow Waterfall Mikki Curtis
Big Bluff Goat Trail overlooking the Buffalo River Casey and Mikki Curtis
Tag us on Facebook or Instagram with #Arkansaswild. 38 | Arkansas Wild | JUNE 2021
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