M A G A Z I N E
A R K A N S A S
ISSUE NO. 2 |2017 a r K A N S A S w i l d.c o m
FROM GNARLY WHITEWATER TO CALM CYPRESS BOTTOMS
MICAH GOODWIN TAKES THE LAKE NORRELL SPILLWAY. PAGE 16.
GET THE GOODS
FROM A PADDLE PRO
Watchable Wildlife on the Water ARKANSASWILD.COM | 1
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issue no. 2
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WHAT'S INSIDE ISSUE N.O 2|2017
Fabulous floating, heart-pounding paddling— these Natural State streams are a must
OF WATER AND WILDLIFE
Seeing Arkansas’ natural abundance from the water is an incomparable experience
SAFETY & GEAR 12 > HOOK & PADDLE 14 > TIME FOR TECHNOLOGY 16 > MY KIT
PADDLE IT FORWARD 18 > FINDING BALANCE 20 > PLAYBOATING PARADISE 22 > TO SAVE A CITY STREAM 24 > BOUNTY OF THE BUFFALO 26 > NATIONAL TREASURE
PHOTO BY NOVO STUDIO
GET OUT & PLAY 44 > PADDLE EVENTS 46 > LOCAL GUIDES, OUTFITTERS, OUTDOOR RETAILERS & RENTALS
BACKPADDLE 50 > BEGINNER BOATING
WWW.ARKANSASWILD.COM 4 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
issue no. 2
The rushing waters and majestic bluffs of the Buffalo hold many secrets. We tell a few of them on page 26. Photo by Novo Studio. On the cover: See what paddler Micah Goodwin of Little Rock takes down Lake Norrell Spillway on page 16. Photo by Novo Studio.
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M A G A Z I N E
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A R K A N S A S WWW.ARKANSASWILD.COM | FACEBOOK.COM/ARKANSASWILD REBEKAH LAWRENCE Publisher firstname.lastname@example.org ELIZABETH HAMAN Associate Publisher email@example.com MANDY KEENER Creative Director firstname.lastname@example.org MICHAEL ROBERTS Editor email@example.com ADVERTISING LESA THOMAS Senior Account Executive firstname.lastname@example.org RHONDA CRONE Account Executive email@example.com
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Play On. It’s what we do. We’re a big, diverse family of tennis players, swimmers, runners, CrossFiers, cannonballers, stairmaster-ers, weekend warriors, big kids, lile kids and kids who never grew up. We love to run, jump, serve, swim, splash, sweat, lap, lunge, squat, compete and do prey much any other verb you can associate with fitness. We believe that fitness and fun not only can co-exist, but that they are soul mates that should never be apart. It’s why this club exists. And it’s why we come to work. It’s why, more than ever, we’re commied to helping you – our members – play oen, play hard and Play On.
PRODUCTION WELDON WILSON Production Manager/Controller ROLAND R. GLADDEN Advertising Traffic Manager JIM HUNNICUTT Advertising Coordinator GRAPHIC DESIGNERS BRYAN MOATS MIKE SPAIN KATIE HASSELL SOCIAL MEDIA LAUREN BUCHER email@example.com OFFICE STAFF ROBERT CURFMAN IT Director LINDA PHILLIPS Billing/Collections
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6 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
issue no. 2
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ARKANSAS TIMES PUBLISHING 201 E. MARKHAM ST., SUITE 200 LITTLE ROCK, AR 72201 501-375-2985 All Contents © 2017 Arkansas Wild
Catch an Adventure Bring a rod on your next float trip. Your fishing license does more than grant you the freedom to fish the stateâ€™s many beautiful lakes, rivers, and streams. One hundred percent of your fishing license fees are invested back into state wildlife and conservation organizations to ensure healthy fish populations, public access, and to improved habitat for both anglers and paddlers.
BUY A FISHING LICENSE AT AGFC.COM ARKANSASWILD.COM | 7
“PADDLERS TAKE IT TO ANOTHER LEVEL.” —Gordon Kumpuris
What makes a paddler want to wake up before dawn, brave cold (sometimes freezing) rain, drive across the state over a series of wet two-lane roads and muddy trails—only to experience just a few hours of physical activity? I’ve been asked that many times, and it’s both a hard and easy question to answer. But first I need to define what I mean by “paddler.” Many people assume (understandably) that what I’m talking about is “floating,” i.e. what they may have experienced in scouting or on youth group outings. I would argue that while floaters are technically paddlers, paddlers are not necessarily floaters. Paddlers take it to another level. We are more passionate. We obsess over the most obscure aspects of the activity. We go to great lengths to paddle, spending time, resources and in many cases building our entire lives around the activity, although being a paddler does not mean acting like a daredevil. Some of the most passionate paddlers I know seldom venture off of class I streams. But we own our own boats and gear—and it can be comical to learn that some of us have not one, not two, but in some cases a half-dozen boats (or even more) at our disposal. That fact alone can baffle many. “Why do you need so many boats?” I often hear. I always answer the question the same way. “A golfer does not just show up at the course with just a driver.” You see, boats are like golf clubs—you need more than one to experience all that the sport has to offer. At least that’s my story! The other reason we paddle often is the people we meet. They are some of the finest anywhere. I was a passenger in a shuttle vehicle on Richland Creek a few years ago when this became so incredibly clear. I was jammed into the backseat of a smelly, dirty SUV, bouncing down a muddy road in the middle of nowhere Newton County. On my right was very arguably one of the wealthiest men in Arkansas. On my left was a guy who probably struggled to have the gas money to get to the river that day. They did not know one another before that day but it made no difference. The conversation flowed effortlessly. We did not show up together, but we shared a childlike excitement to be experiencing the same thing together. It took no time at all before we naturally teamed up. Finally, I’ll end by saying the other reason I paddle is because I’m blessed to be an Arkansan. I tell people all the time that not paddling in Arkansas is like living in Colorado and never snow skiing or living in Florida and never experiencing the white sands of the Gulf. We are truly blessed with a natural playground in our back yard that is the envy of many. From the placid pools and majestic bluffs along the lower Buffalo National River in the Ozarks, to the roaring class IV rapids on the Cossatot river in the Ouachitas, to the breathtaking blackwater swamps of the Arkansas Delta. We have it all and we are so very fortunate to be able to experience these wonderful places. Join groups like the Arkansas Canoe Club, share publications like this copy of Paddle Arkansas that you’re holding—and meet some of these crazy, wonderful people and experience it for yourself and then perhaps most importantly, take ownership in it. It belongs to us! These are our rivers, our streams, our swamps and our lakes. It’s up to us to experience them and to protect and maintain them for ourselves and for generations to come. So, get off the couch. Get a boat. Get some gear and go boatin’!
Gordon Kumpuris, Guest Editor Communications Officer & Whitewater School Director Arkansas Canoe Club (ACC) 8 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
issue no. 2
PHOTO BY NOVO STUDIO
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JEREMY MACKEY is an Arkansas native
with 20 years in the outdoor industry who loves sharing his passion with others.
RICHARD LEDBETTER is an outdoor writer and enthusiast who collects hunting, fishing and other tales of the Natural State.
PHILIP THOMAS is the owner and
operator of Novo Studio, a photography, video and graphic design company located in northwest Arkansas.
JIM PETERSON is an avid fly fisherman
and naturalist. He is a retired hydrologist and aquatic biologist with a special interest in Ozark streams.
fsbank.com onlyinark.com Member FDIC 10 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
issue no. 2
JEREMY RODGERS is the Director
of photography at Render Creative Group, a marketing firm located in Hot Springs Arkansas.
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all in one place. We’re committed to Arkansas and to the people who live here. That’s why we created an entire site dedicated to our home state. Visit OnlyInArk.com for everything from great road trips and fun festivals to local culture and more. When your bank is only in Arkansas, you know it’s all about you.
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SAFETY & GEAR
HOOK & PADDLE
KAYAK FISHERMEN ARE A GROWING NICHE IN THE PADDLE WORLD BY MICHAEL ROBERTS SURE, A KAYAK MAKES FOR THE PERFECT PLATFORM WHEN IT COMES TO BATTLING ARKANSAS’ EXCELLENT WHITEWATER, BUT THE SMALL BOATS ALSO MAKE FOR AN EASILY-TRANSPORTED WAY TO CATCH A FEW FISH. LOOKING TO OUTFIT YOUR KAYAK? WE TALKED WITH THE FISHING EXPERTS OVER AT FISH N STUFF IN SHERWOOD FOR GEAR RECOMMENDATIONS. FAMILY OWNED SINCE 1987, THE STORE HAS THRIVED UNDER MANAGER JACOB PERKINS. “WE JUST WANT TO HELP YOU CATCH FISH, AND HAVE A LOT OF FUN IN THE PROCESS,” SAYS JACOB. HERE’S A TASTE OF WHAT YOU’LL FIND:
LINED UP RIGHT
Available in a variety of test weights and colors, J-Braid is top-notch when it comes to line. After all, getting them on the hook is just the first step. $15 daiwabrand.com
WARM AND DRY
For a light jacket that provides protection from both wind and damp, look no further than the i5 Crosswind. Won’t hold water, so it will never weigh you down! $189 gillmarine.com
With Norman Lures line of crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs, there’s no fish you can’t catch. Best of all, they are 100-percent “Made in the U.S.A.” Various. normanlures.com
The Plano FTO Elite series of small tackle boxes are perfect for the limited space available to the kayak fisherman, and come in different styles for various types of lures. $12 planomolding.com
Looking to invest in a rod that will potentially last a lifetime? Falcon is the name. Check out their newfor-2017 BuCoo SR series and discover unparalleled strength in a lightweight package. $100 falconrods.com
For more information about Fish N Stuff in Sherwood, visit fishnstuff.com. 12 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
issue no. 2
The Triumph 13 Angler from Perception Kayaks is the ultimate in kayak angling perfection. Fast, agile and built with the kayak fisherman in mind, you’ll be reeling them in as quick as you can get your bait in the water. $650. perceptionkayaks.com
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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 13
SAFETY & GEAR
TIME FOR TECHNOLOGY
GETTING INTO THE WILD CAN BENEFIT FROM SOME HIGH-TECH HELP
BY GORDON KUMPURIS
on, there’s always water in the river.” That was the reply received back in the early 90s when calling the general store near the Little Missouri River campground to inquire about the water level. The lady on the phone was telling the truth of course, but it’s all about perspective. In the 70s, 80s and early 90s, paddling was really starting to take off—thanks in part to publicity surrounding efforts to dam the Buffalo River, the formation of the Arkansas Canoe Club in 1975 and (to some degree) even the epic whitewater film “ D e l i v e r a n c e.” I n t h o s e d a y s , information on Arkansas streams, knowledge of bo ats, paddling gear and even general paddling information and technique was s c a r c e. We a t h e r f o r e c a s t s a n d radar were less precise, phones were still connected to cords— and Al Gore was still working on that internet thing. Perhaps the hardest thing to answer was the fundamental question: what’s the water level? Finding out such necessary information became easier in the early 90s, when the United States Geological Survey (USGS) connected streamflow gages to publically accessible computer servers. With this system, paddlers could call a phone number for information, while some early adopters used home computers to dial in and get level reports on a handful of streams. This was a game changer. No longer would paddlers set out blindly for some distant Ozark destination only to get there and discover it was either too low or in flood. Technology had reshaped the sport forever.
These days, paddlers can utilize websites like Ozark Whitewater Summary (ozarkpages.com/ cgi-bin/stages.pl?ST=level) and American Whitewater (americanwhitewater.org), both of which put real-time stream gauge information at our fingertips. This, coupled with the crowd sourcing of information through social media, has given the paddling community a way to connect and engage with one another like never before. Want information on an obscure stream? American Whitewater or the Arkansas Canoe Club’s (ACC) websites are good places to start. Alternatively, you can virtually view streams using Google Earth—and even overlay rainfall amount data to predict if obscure streams will have enough water to paddle. You can practically learn to paddle using YouTube. Get in trouble on the river? There’s an app for that. RaftUp is a social media application that incorporates an emergency SOS alert when you need assistance. And GPS messengers such as SPOT devices don’t even require cell service to send an SOS. By and large, technology has had a wonderful and positive impact on this niche sport. We know more. We are better prepared, safer and our learning curve is not as steep. Like practitioners of any niche activity learning to embrace technology, paddling and paddlers adapt. Some slower, some faster, but in the end we have and will learn to go with the flow.
For more information on stream levels, visit usgs.gov. To meet paddlers through the Arkansas Canoe Club, visit arkansascanoeclub.com. 14 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
issue no. 2
HEY, THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT! THESE APPS FOR SAFTEY WILL MAKE YOUR SMART PHONE PADDLE-PERFECT:
menu for lunch 16 beers on tap with a full beer garden and oom tapr our in er dinn and
“We started Rebel Kettle with the full intention of bringing new and exciting beers to Arkansas. Rebel Kettle is an experience, not just a brew pub!” An up-and-coming brewery focused on specialty and small batch artisan beers. 822 E. 6th St., Little Rock • 501-374-2791 OPEN: Tues-Thu 11 am-10 pm; Fri-Sat 11 am-11 pm; Sun 11 am-6 pm
River Data by Fizzy Artwerks: This app tracks water levels on streams across the country and provides weather reports from the National Weather Service. Kayaklog by Kayaklog: Turns a smartphone into a logging device that can keep track of wind speed, temperature, time spent on the water, speed of travel—and it also organizes photos. Paddle Ready by the American Canoe Association (ACA): With excellent route-building features, safety and rescue video content and access to a wealth of knowledge via the ACA’s database of certified instructors, it’s like a first aid kit for your phone. WaterAlert by the United States Geological Survey (USGS): While not technically an app, this program from the USGS is a winner. Users can receive text messages with water level data from any stream where the USGS has monitoring equipment.
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Micah Goodwin is geared up right as he takes on the rushing waters of the Lake Norrell Spillway in Saline County.
PADDLING PREPARED Micah Goodwin has faced off against waters all across the United States, but the Little Rock resident loves the local streams of the Natural State. He recently took us out to the Lake Norrell Spillway in Saline County, a class III-IV stretch of paddling excellence. Micah also gave us some insight into what makes a great kayaker kit. 16 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
issue no. 2
PHOTOGRAPHY: NOVO STUDIO
NAME: Micah Goodwin, Little Rock OCCUPATION: Attorney, PPGMR Law, Little Rock
WHERE I PADDLE: “Everywhere—Arkansas,
Oklahoma, Tennesee, North Carolina and Georgia. Favorite spots in Arkansas are Richland Creek, the Ouachita River at Rockport and the Cossatot River."
THE KAYAK: Pyranha Loki, Pyranha Jed,
Dagger Green Boat
WHY I PADDLE: "I’ve been paddling my
entire life, and always feel called to the water. I love that whitewater kayaking really forces you to be in the moment at all times. After you plan a route through a rapid, you have to commit to that line and execute—although sometimes you may have to improvise a Plan B. Just as important, there is always a harder rapid to run so you can keep progressing even at the top end of the sport.
"I ALWAYS FEEL CALLED TO THE WATER." —MICAH GOODWIN
1. FAVORITE BOAT: “Pyranha Loki. A river
running playboat that can run Class V with the right driver. The Loki is that rare hybrid that does well in two entirely different disciplines.” Various prices. pyranha.com
2. FOOTWEAR FANTASTIC: “Astral
Brewers. I have suffered through some pretty awful paddling shoes but the Brewers have incredible grip thanks to Astral’s speciallyengineered rubber. I’ll be using these forever.” $100. astraldesignes.com
3. PERFECT PADDLE: “Werner Sho-gun. Werner makes the best paddles in the business, hands down.” $350-450. wernerpaddles.com
4. SUIT UP: “Drysuits are expensive. The only
one worth buying is a Kokatat because they will repair your drysuit as needed, meaning one suit can hold up for decades.”$800. kokatat.com
5. HEADSTRONG: The Shred Ready T Dub. Perfect for whitewater protection. $45-150. shredready.com
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 17
PADDLE IT FORWARD
STAND-UP PADDLEBOARD YOGA IS A HIT IN THE OZARKS
PHOTOGRAPHY: BEN MATTHEWS
BY RHONDA CRONE
SUP Yoga classes regularly meet on Beaver Lake near Eureka Springs.
tand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga is a relatively new sport that offers a unique challenge: doing yoga poses, on a paddleboard on the water. It offers increased core strength, flexibility and balance for those who stick with it. The good part is, beginners are welcome. You don’t have to be a pro-SUPer or a hard-core yogi to do it. Amelia Travis, founder of Stoked Yogi, told Yoga Journal, “If you can breathe, you can do yoga. If you can stand on one foot, you can [SUP] paddle.” All it requires is mental focus and a little determination. The lakes of Arkansas can be ideal for the practice of SUP Yoga—when they’re calm. Unlike traditional surfing, a SUP does not require a wave, something that makes flat lake waters ideal. And, if you’re also attempting headstands and trees, they’re necessary. We spoke with Ozarks SUP Yoga expert and owner of SUP Outfitters in Eureka Springs Melody Elliott, who is a certified SUP Yoga teacher. With her husband in the Air Force, Melody and family (three sons) had the opportunity to travel and live around the world, including the Hawaiian island of Oahu for eight years where she trained to be a First Mate and had various jobs—like working on snorkeling or dolphin tours. She also spent a lot of time paddleboarding. The family settled back here in the Ozarks a few years ago and Melody wanted to share the awesome Hawaii-born sport of SUP with the region. Being an avid SUP boarder, 18 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
issue no. 2
she became certified in SUP Yoga through a program in San Diego, and started teaching in 2013. She now teaches classes on beautiful Beaver Lake, in the Ozarks. When asked, do you need to be experienced in either sport to succeed at SUP Yoga, Melody says, “That’s a good question! I see my customers that come out to rent boards experimenting with yoga poses, and the groups that I have had out from yoga studios, most of them had never been on a paddleboard before. So, I feel with the customers that have already been practicing yoga, they have already found their balance, and Pada Bandha it's finding how the board moves under you with your weight placement.” The benefits of SUP Yoga, which can be best practiced in our Ozarks climate from May through October, seem limitless. It is an intense but meditative physical and mental practice. It can even be life-changing. Yoga in itself is a challenge for the mind and body, and adding a SUP board to the equation takes yoga to the next level. “Doing [yoga poses] on a stand-up paddleboard increases awareness of weight transfer, because unlike a mat, the board responds to the movement. Staying totally present in the moment with the breath will serve you well on the unstable surface of the paddleboard!” says Melody. But what about the fear of falling? “Honestly so what if you fall in? It is absolutely a wonderful feeling to just
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let go and feel the water around you and then climb back on and go for it again and again and again, there is no judgment in our classes! It is a fun, wonderful challenge.” For more info on SUP Outfitters rentals and classes contact Melody at sup-outfitters.com.
501-834-5733 ARKANSASWILD.COM | 19
PADDLE IT FORWARD
THE OUACHITA RIVER’S BEST KEPT SECRET IS OUT BY RICHARD LEDBETTER
20 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
issue no. 2
Kayakers catch the standing wave at the Ouachita River Whitewater Park, a paddler playground located in Rockport just outside Malvern. PHOTOGRAPHY: RICHARD LEDBETTER
n untold ages past, geology had a magnificent plan for a little spot on the Ouachita River near Malvern. In simple terms, the unique ledge transecting the Ouachita River at Rockport is the remains of an ancient outcropping from a time before humans walked the earth. The exposed rocks jutting up from the river bottom are made from harder novaculite rock running through shale and sandstone. The result is some amazing whitewater. The Rockport suburb outside Malvern might be nothing more than a passing through to many who travel down the I-30 corridor. It’s a small place with a population of 755 citizens and numerous restaurants and businesses. But amidst the restaurants and fueling stations for travelers lies one of Arkansas’ best kept secrets: the Ouachita River Whitewater Park, an invaluable recreation resource in a state well known for its many whitewater float streams and myriad wild-water enthusiasts. Well before the present park and river access existed, the Arkansas Canoe Club discovered the ledge and took advantage of its many benefits for training novice and would-be paddlers. It has proved so beneficial in respect to developing skills in the challenging environment of whitewater sports that it long ago earned the name “Rockport Center for Excellence.” In the dry, hot summer season, when all the other streams around are too dry to navigate due to lack of rain, the upstream dam release tumbling over
"YOU CAN LEARN EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW [AT ROCKPORT]" —JEREMY MACKEY
the ledge at Rockport provides a cool summer reprieve until the rainy season again arrives. In those earlier days, it was still a mystical destination that required some degree of effort to obtain access to. Its inaccessibility made those who took the trouble to find and play it, members of an exclusive club. Jeremy Mackey, area paddler enthusiast and guide, has been paddling around the country for 20 years. Speaking of the ledge, he said, “I started my paddling career at Rockport and learned everything I know about the sport there. Most people in Arkansas can trace some point in their paddling lineage back to Rockport. It’s been an important resource for Arkansas as long as I can recall. I remember when it was this mythical place and you had to park at the interstate and paddle up.” Before the city of Malvern developed the road and park that today welcome visitor from all points, those wishing to visit the ledge had to get off I-30 at the Social Hill exit and circle back under the interstate bridge that crosses the river downstream from the ledge. Parking in the shade of the twin spans beneath the roaring traffic bouncing above, paddlers exchanged happy greetings before unstrapping their boats and sliding them down the steep riverbank into the ever-increasing current rising from late summer hydroelectric release generated by Remmel Dam. Straining every muscle to guide their canoes, kayaks or C-1’s nearly a mile upstream; enthusiasts dug their paddle blades into the exceptionally cool waters pouring into the river from deep within the bowels of Lake Catherine. Once arrived, they gloried in the constant standing wave to surf and perform pop-ups. All those attractions are still in place exactly as they’ve been for time untold. Jeremy says that once the access road to the ledge was opened, he was part of the team that “built the first earthen steps on the left side of the river. They were where the concrete steps are now.” The park now contains an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) boat-launch and complete handicap accessibility to the riverbank. “In the early 2000’s, Remmel Dam came up for relicensing and a minimum flow of 250 cubic feet per second (CFS) recreational release from noon until 3p.m. daily was set for Entergy,” says Jeremy. “ The Arkansas Game and Fish trout stocking program and 600+ members of the Arkansas Canoe Club were very influential helping put that in place.” “It’s a special place,” says Jeremy Mackey. “Not only was it a jumping off point for westward expansion but also a jumping off point for new kayakers. I tell everyone you can spend a couple hours a week all summer at Rockport and learn everything you need to know to be ready to run Class III whitewater confidently by fall. Everyone who comes there shares their accomplishments and failures and it’s amazing to see the community that’s established around such a facility. Lives are changed. They get healthier on all levels. I watch the transformation to a point that when people buy a new vehicle it’s based on how many boats it’ll tote.” “I consider Rockport my home wave,” he concludes. “When I have whitewater dreams, it’s not of big water on the Cossatot or Richland Creek, it’s of surfing Rockport at sunset. It’s convenient and high quality and the secret is out. Now that the word is out, it’s our duty to leave it better than we found it whatever that takes.”
Fall In Love
Visitgreersferrylake.org for our free area guide Paid for with a combination of state and Greers Ferry Lake/Little Red River Assoc. funds. Photo Credit: Debbi Brawley
Preserving and protecting the scenic beauty, pristine water and air quality of the Buffalo National River.
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 21
PADDLE IT FORWARD
BY MICHAEL ROBERTS
or the thousands of commuters who zip up and down central Arkansas’ interstates every day, Fourche Creek is just another background landmark to be traversed— most probably don’t even notice it meandering through pools tucked away amid stands of cypress and trees. Those commuters (other than perhaps a select few) don’t realize something very important about the creek though: it drains and filters runoff from almost the entire city of Little Rock. In many ways, Fourche Creek is the foundation of the capital city’s ecosystem—and it’s a foundation that has been ill-served by its citizens over the years. Just another creek? Most certainly not. During the rainy season, the 108,800-acre watershed can store up to a billion (yes, BILLION) gallons of water. The creek is also home to over 50 species of fish, centuries-old stands of bald cypress trees and loads of migratory birds and other wildlife. It’s also, unfortunately, home to every sort of
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trash imaginable, from ubiquitous plastic bags and bottles to car tires—and even once a porta-potty. “If the city of Little Rock hired just two people to constantly pick up trash along Fourche Creek, they’d be able to manage it,” says Gordon Kumpuris of the Arkansas Canoe Club (ACC), a group whose volunteers stage clean-up days periodically to help fight a city’s worth of run-off and garbage. “It wouldn’t take more than that.” Unfortunately, those two river guardians are still a dream—and volunteers continue to fight an ongoing battle with garbage. Those volunteers are organized, however, having formed groups like Friends of Fourche Creek to show that they will not take the destruction of this watershed lying down. In addition to expected trash pick-up efforts, the group also serves as one of the lead promoters for the recreational use of the wetlands areas by paddlers of all stripes.
PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY OF THE ARKANSAS CANOE CLUB
TO SAVE A CITY STREAM THEY FOUND FOURCHE CREEK FILTHY—AND WENT TO BATTLE
"JUST TWO PEOPLE TO CONSTANTLY PICK UP TRASH [WOULD] BE ABLE TO MANAGE IT." —GORDON KUMPURIS
GETTING INVOLVED Want to help rehabilitate the Fourche? Then don’t hesitate—participate!
JOIN the Friends of Fourche Creek. You can either
sign up to only receive announcements and updates, or go all-in and become a member of the group’s listserv. Visit ar.audubon.org/conservation/friendsfourche-creek to get started.
Despite suffering from years of trash and run-off from the city of Little Rock, Fourche Creek still has much to offer in terms of urban paddling.
GET SOCIAL with your fellow Fourche fanatics by
keeping up with groups like Friends of the Fourche or Keep Arkansas Beautiful on Facebook. Check out facebook.com/fourchecreek and facebook.com/ keeparkansasbeautiful for more details.
VOLUNTEER your time and go all out getting your
For these advocates, introducing the citizens of the Little Rock metro area to its watershed is a vital part of changing the way the creek is treated. The group certainly advocates clean-ups and volunteer work, but they’ve taken their approach beyond just picking up trash, hosting “Fourche Creek Discovery Day” events where they paint the people of central Arkansas a picture of what the landscape might be with a thriving, viable stream for hiking, floating and fishing right in the center of town.
hands dirty. When groups schedule cleanups, join up with them—and since you will be out learning the stream while you paddle it, remember that a cleanup day is any day where you do some cleanup.
CALL your local and state representatives and let
them know that Fourche Creek is the lifeblood of Little Rock, and more needs to be done! For more information about Friends of Fourche Creek, visit facebook.com/fourchecreek. For more information about floating Fourche Creek, visit ar.audobon.org.
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 23
The Buffalo River is a smallmouth bass paradise, especially below where it merges with the White River. PHOTOGRAPHY:TOSHBROWN.COM/JIM PETERSEN/ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM
PADDLE IT FORWARD
BOUNTY OF THE BUFFALO
THERE’S FISH FOR THE CATCHING IN ARKANSAS’ MOST POPULAR PADDLE STREAM BY JIM PETERSEN
id you know that the Ozark Mountains contain more fish species than almost any other area of the United States? The Buffalo River alone contains more than 74 fish species lurking beneath its clear waters. From the common to the rare, from the bold to the secretive, from the demurely understated to the beautifully striking, many of the fish of the Buffalo River are unknown to most paddlers spending a refreshing day on and in its waters. All but the most fish-obsessed of us probably only know a handful of species from the river. Species like smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, channel catfish, longnose gar, rainbow trout, and one or more species of sunfish. Much of this is forgivable because most of the species are minnows (I don’t mean little bait fish—that would be “minners”), darters or other little silvery fish. But, there are some larger species that you might not know about either. Some you should know about—either to impress your friends or because they are special to Arkansas. They include representatives of 15 families. To start off, let’s take a look at the popular game species commonly found while fishing on the Buffalo 24 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
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River. Some of these are fairly uncommon and you might need to target them by fishing specific habitats or during specific times of the year. Anglers commonly catch smallmouth bass, longear sunfish and Ozark bass. This last one, the Ozark bass, can’t be caught just anywhere. Ozark bass are only found in the White River and its tributaries in Arkansas and Missouri. Walleye are likely only going to be caught in late winter near the mouth of the Buffalo River. Warmouth are most likely to be caught in backwater areas near the downstream parts of the river. Rainbow trout can be picked up during the winter months, near the mouth, or as hold-overs in or near springfed tributaries; brown trout show up near the confluence with the White River. Perhaps the rarest game fish would be the redspotted sunfish; I suspect that less than one angler in 1,000 has caught a redspotted sunfish from the Buffalo. Among the most common species are duskystripe shiners, rainbow darters and two species of stonerollers. Smallmouth bass and longear sunfish are somewhat less common but should be very familiar to anglers. Stonerollers are one of the few algae eating fish in the Buffalo. Anyone looking into swift, shallow areas of
The cold, rushing waters of the Buffalo River are home to dozens of fish species, including the Ozark Madtom (top) and the Longear Sunfish (bottom).
flowing water will see the bright, silver flashes of these very common minnows as they scrape algae from rocks. Duskystripe shiners are another very common minnow. Except for a muted gold stripe that runs the length of the body they are pretty drab— except in the spring during spawning when they turn bright crimson. The small rainbow darters can be spotted darting from rock to rock in shallow water near riffles. In the spring, male rainbows are decked out in bright blue and orange and are one of Arkansas’ most colorful fish. Nine fish found in the Buffalo River and its tributaries are found only in the Ozark Plateaus (these are termed Ozark Plateaus endemics). One is a sunfish (Ozark bass), three are minnows (duskystripe shiner, Ozark shiner, and Ozark chub), three are darters (Arkansas saddled darter, yoke darter, and stippled darter), two are small catfish (Ozark madtom and checkered madtom), and one is a sculpin (knobfin sculpin). A few of these have particularly interesting coloration. The yoke darter has a single large, emerald green scale just behind each gill cover. The Ozark madtom has four indistinct brown saddles over a subtle yellow background. The checkered madtom has four very distinctive dark saddles. Several members of the sucker family are found in the Buffalo River. These include the distinctively-marked northern hog sucker, with its blockish head and dark splotches on a caramel colored background, and nine relatively-nondescript silver, bronze or dark green suckers. Floaters who have looked into the pools of the river have likely glimpsed the often fast moving suckers fleeing the shadow of their canoes and kayaks. Finally, there are representatives of two interesting families—the American eel and three lampreys. Visitors are unlikely to see any of these four snake-like fish, except for the parasitic chestnut lamprey which can attach to a variety of larger fish species. With some attention, visitors to the Buffalo River can spot a number of species they had not seen before—some common, some not so much. Spend some time gazing into the pools as you paddle, wading the shallows, or lying in a shallow riffle with a swim mask and snorkel watching the “little silvery fish” earn their living among the rocks.
DID YOU KNOW?
THE BUFFALO RIVER ALONE CONTAINS MORE THAN 74 FISH SPECIES.
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 25
PADDLE IT FORWARD
NATIONAL TREASURE THE MEN AND WOMEN OF BUFFALO RIVER NATIONAL PARK LOVE THEIR RIVER BY LAURA MILLER, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
sk just about anyone—even non-paddlers—to name a river in the state of Arkansas and we guarantee that the two answers will be “Arkansas” and “Buffalo.” The former is a mighty thoroughfare that cuts across the state, carrying water from the Rocky Mountains down to the Mississippi. The latter, however, is a clean, clear mountain stream that has become a symbol of just how important our natural spaces are in the Natural State. We sat down with several National Park Service employees who have dedicated their lives to keeping the Buffalo National River open, accessible, clean—and most of all, first in the hearts of Arkansans. Here are their favorite hidden gem paddle runs for visitors who come to their home river:
HASTY TO CARVER
CARVER TO MT. HERSEY
Fly fishing with my son near the Carver put-in brought us in touch with shoals of darters so thick they looked like a reddish moss on the gravel bar. Spawning gar were upstream thrashing in the shallows, but below in the pool it was a feeding frenzy of gar and darters. We hooked smallmouth under the watchful eye of eagles, but delighted more at the American redstarts in the willows. As we worked upstream, sunfish emerged from numerous hiding spots in the clear water. It was a beautiful day. —Caven Clark, Chief of Interpretation and Resource Management
Having a fisheries background, many people will ask me, “Where’s the best place to go fishing on the river?” I give the same answer every time—Carver to Mt. Hersey. This stretch is prime habitat for smallmouth bass, making it a fisherman’s paradise. People come to the river for many reasons, but my top two are fishing and solitude. When I am able to get away, I want to make every cast count. So when I hit the river on my personal time I want quiet, calm sections that have fish ready to bite. I can’t think of a better way to spend a relaxing day than paddling through a pool, casting my favorite top-water lure, waiting for the next bite, all while enjoying the beauty of America’s first national river. —Shawn Hodges, Ecologist
DID YOU KNOW? 26 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
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THE MOST POPULAR SECTION TO PADDLE ON THE
MT. HERSEY TO WOOLUM (8.5 miles)
"AROUND EVERY BEND LIES A LONG QUIET POOL OR A BEAUTIFUL TOWERING BLUFF." —LAURA MILLER
I love this section of river. Even on a busy spring weekend, you can have long stretches all to yourself. Around every bend lies either a long, quiet pool or a beautiful towering bluff, or both. Heron and eagles will accompany you on your trip, and there are just enough rapids to keep things interesting. At almost the end, you will be rewarded with views of The Narrows (or N’ars), a knife-edge cliff with its own great view from the top, and Skull Bluff where, when the water levels are right, you can paddle in and out of its partially submerged cave openings. —Laura Miller, Deputy Superintendent
GILBERT TO NORTH MAUMEE (11.8 miles)
"I EXPERIENCED BEING IN THE MIDDLE OF A MAYFLY HATCH... THEY WERE SO THICK WE COULDN'T SEE WATER OR SHORE." —SHAWN HODGES
This is the second longest river stretch between takeouts so come prepared to stay a while. This section is loaded with large bluffs, is joined by three tributaries and boasts numerous gravel and sand bars that are perfect for camping. But what really makes this section stand out for me is that this is where I experienced being in the middle of a mayfly hatch. We had a horrible time getting our gear ready that day so we got a late start on the night. We were heading upstream to our campsite when the mayflies began to choke out our view of the river. The mayflies were so thick, we couldn’t see the water or the shore. It was an amazing experience. Every stretch of river has its unique qualities, but for paddlers willing to go the “extra mile” this section offers a great deal of solitude and excellent fishing. A once-in-a-lifetime experience can occur around any bend, but for it to happen at all, you must first get out on the water. —Shawn Hodges, Ecologist
BUFFALO RIVER IS THE PONCA TO KYLES LANDING RUN, A 10.6 MILE SECTION. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 27
DILLARD'S FERRY TO RUSH LANDING (9 miles)
The nine miles of striking geology and placid pools from Dillard’s Ferry to Rush Landing are ideal for the novice paddler. The Lower Buffalo’s slow current can require quite a bit of self-propulsion, so plan to begin this float early in the morning to allow a full day to paddle and explore scenic rock formations, hidden box canyons, and the abandoned World War I mining town of Rush. Don’t miss the takeout at Rush, however, unless you’re prepared and equipped to experience the Lower Wilderness! —Lauren Ray, Park Guide
"THIS IS WILDERNESS: REMOTE, WILD, A LITTLE RISKY..." —FARON USREY
LOWER WILDERNESS – RUSH TO THE WHITE RIVER (24 miles)
The Lower Wilderness, from Rush to Buffalo City, in winter. This is my favorite section of river and it is the best time to experience the essence of the river as it flows through the largest section of wilderness in Buffalo National River. In the winter, the river is yours. You can move up or downstream with ease, exploring or doing nothing but sitting and looking. This is wilderness: remote, wild, a little risky, a place that demands that you have some wilderness and river skills. In winter it can be brutal, but it offers great reward to those ready for the elements and prepared with outdoor skills honed in other, less wild places. —Faron Usrey, Aquatic Ecologist
"EXPERIENCE QUIET, BROKEN ONLY BY THE CRY OF BALD EAGLES OR THE HUSHED VOICES OF YOUR COMPANIONS." —FARON USREY For more information about the Buffalo National River, visit nps.gov or buffaloriver.org.
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OZARK MOUNTAIN REGION Enjoy a beautiful getaway in the Ozark Mountains! A VIEW-TI-FUL PLACE TO VACATION
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ozarkmountainregion.com *Ad paid for using a combination of private and state matching funds.
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 29
FABULOUS FLOATING, HEART-POUNDING PADDLINGâ€”ALL IN THE NATURAL STATE
PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY ARKANSAS PARKS AND TOURISM
BY JEREMY MACKEY AND MICHAEL ROBERTS
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WHEN IT COMES TO PADDLING IN THE NATURAL STATE, DIVERSE OPPORTUNITIES ABOUND. FROM THE FAST-FLOWING WATERS OF THE OUACHITA AND OZARK MOUNTAINS TO THE CALM, SOOTHING STREAMS AND LAKES OF EASTERN ARKANSAS, THEREâ€™S SOMETHING FOR JUST ABOUT ANY TASTE, SKILL LEVEL OR STYLE. FOR OVER 20 YEARS, OUTDOORS ENTHUSIAST JEREMY MACKEY HAS BEEN SHARING HIS PASSION FOR THE LAKES AND STREAMS OF ARKANSAS. HERE, THE PADDLE GURU TAKES US ACROSS THE STATE TO SHARE HIS PICKS FOR TOP EPIC FLOAT TRIPS FOR SINGLES AND FAMILIES ALIKE.
Kayakers take off into a Lake Ouachita sunset. See more about this epic float on page 35. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 31
PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY ARKANSAS PARKS AND TOURISM
SPRING RIVER (36.3035795,-91.8638287) FUN WITHOUT BEING FEARSOME, THE SPRING BOASTS A NICE COMBINATION OF FLATWATER ALONG WITH CLASS I AND II RAPIDS. PADDLERS CAN MAKE A LEISURELY DAY OUT OF THE TRIP, THEN HEAD OVER TO THE TOWN OF HARDY FOR FUN SHOPPING AND FAMILY ACTIVITIES.
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PADDLE PARTICULARS: CAMPING PERMITTED
GREAT FOR FAMILY PADDLING, SO BRING THE KIDS.
BAYOU DE VIEW WATER TRAIL (34.9036461, -91.2678999) PADDLE PARTICULARS: IN 2009, THE ARKANSAS GAME AND FISH COMMISSION BEGAN WORK ON THE WATER TRAIL SYSTEM. WHILE ALL OF THESE TRAILS OFFER PADDLER’S THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPLORE ONE OF THE STATE’S LEAST KNOWN, BUT MOST WILD AND DIVERSE TERRAIN. BAYOU DE VIEW, LOCATED EAST OF LITTLE ROCK, WINDS THROUGH THE BOTTOMS OF THE SHEFFIELD NELSON DAGMAR WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA—A SERENE LANDSCAPE OF MASSIVE CYPRESS GROVES AND A SEEMINGLY INFINITE ABUNDANCE OF WILDLIFE.
CAMPING PERMITTED. BRING MAP/COMPASS/GPS SELF-GUIDED
Check water levels pre-trip
“THE ABUNDANT AND DIVERSE FLORA AND FAUNA FOUND IN THESE MEANDERING SLOUGHS ARE SECOND TO NONE.” —JEREMY MACKEY ARKANSASWILD.COM | 33
BUFFALO NATIONAL RIVER (36.0472217, -94.026826)
“DOES IT REALLY GET ANY BETTER?” —JEREMY MACKEY
Livery services available! PADDLE PARTICULARS: CAMPING PERMITTED BRING MAP/COMPASS/GPS FOR SIDE HIKES AND HISTORY CHECK WATER LEVELS PRE-TRIP
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PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY ARKANSAS PARKS AND TOURISM/FACING PAGE: JEREMY RODGERS
ARGUABLY ARKANSAS’ MOST RECOGNIZED AND MUCH-BELOVED RIVERS. THIS FREE FLOWING 135 MILE LONG GEM LOCATED IN THE BOSTON MOUNTAINS/OZARK PLATEAU DRAWS PEOPLE IN FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD TO PADDLE. THIS WILD AND SCENIC RIVER OFFERS PADDLERS OF ALL SKILL LEVELS TRIP LENGTHS CARRYING FROM A SHORT DAY TO MULTI-DAY EXPEDITIONS. THE RICH HISTORY AND STUNNING SEDIMENTARY BLUFFS WILL TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY AS YOU WHILE AWAY A LAZY DAY.
“THE SHEER SIZE OF LAKE OUACHITA IS WHAT’S MOST IMPRESSIVE, BUT THE TRUE MAGIC IS IN THE EXPLORATION OF THE BACKWATERS, CREEK CHANNELS, AND BACKWATER COVES.” —JEREMY MACKEY
LAKE OUACHITA (34.6159281, -93.6462287) LOCATED WEST OF HOT SPRINGS, IN THE HEART OF THE MOUNTAINS OF THE SAME NAME, LIES LAKE OUACHITA, A TOURING KAYAKER’S DREAM COME TRUE. BOASTING OVER 700 MILES OF UNDEVELOPED SHORELINE AND INNUMERABLE ISLANDS TO CAMP ON, THE LARGEST LAKE IN ARKANSAS WILL SURPRISE AND INSPIRE TIME AND AGAIN. PADDLE PARTICULARS: CAMPING PERMITTED BRING MAP/COMPASS/GPS
WITH the lake’s ever-changing conditions, a professional guide is recommended. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 35
COSSATOT RIVER (34.2938191,-94.1796357) FOR EXPERIENCE PADDLERS LOOKING FOR A CLASSIC WHITEWATER EXPERIENCE IN THE OUACHITA MOUNTAINS, LOOK NO FURTHER THAN THE COSSATOT RIVER. “THE SKULL CRUSHER” IS A RIVER WITH A PERSONALITY ALL ITS OWN. THE UPPER REACHES, WITHIN THE CANEY CREEK WILDERNESS AREA, OFFER A MORE MELLOW FLOAT WITH ABUNDANT FISHING. FROM THE ED BANKS ACCESS THE COSSATOT BECOMES A CLASS III-IV RIVER THAT’S SURE TO IMPRESS, CLIMAXING WITH A SERIES OF FIVE FALLS AT THE TAKEOUT.
CLASS CHAT 36 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
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Class III: Intermediate Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe.
Class IV: Advanced Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water.
PADDLE PARTICULARS: CAMPING PERMITTED BRING MAP/COMPASS/GPS CHECK WATER LEVELS
Experienced paddlers only!
Class V: Expert Extremely long, obstructed or very violent rapids which expose a paddler to added risk.
Class VI: Extreme These runs have almost never been attempted and often exemplify the extremes of difficulty, unpredictability and danger.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY ARKANSAS PARKS AND TOURISM
“NO MATTER THE WEATHER OR WATER LEVEL, IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY AT THE ‘TOT!” —JEREMY MACKEY
OZARK MOUNTAIN REGION Enjoy a beautiful getaway in the Ozark Mountains!
Wish You Were Here!
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authorized canoe concessionaire by the national park service
ozarkmountainregion.com *Ad paid for using a combination of private and state matching funds.
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 37
SEEING ARKANSAS’ ANIMALS FROM THE WATER IS INCREDIBLE BY MICHAEL ROBERTS
n a place like Arkansas, the phrase “watchable wildlife” is just about as vague and all-encompassing as the term “paddling” itself. The Natural State’s location between the Great Plains and the Gulf Coast make it a temperate, varied and fascinating place for all sorts of birds, butterflies and yes, even bears. Oh, my! For many outdoor enthusiasts, catching a glimpse of the various critters that make the state their home is more than just a hobby—it’s a way of collecting unique experiences and rewards, sometimes after long hours (and even days) of pursuit. And the best part, according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), is that “special equipment is not required; wildlife watchers
need to come equipped only with a sense of appreciation for the state’s living resources and the knowledge of where to look for them.” The AGFC divides the state into six regions: the Ozark Plateau, Arkansas River Valley, Ouachita Mountains, the Coastal Plane, the Mississippi Delta and Crowley’s Ridge, and each has its own unique flavor of wildlife to snap with a camera—or just to gaze on in wonder. The opportunities are even greater, because Arkansas’ numerous rivers and lakes provide a different kind of pathway into the wilderness, one that can only be experienced by slipping into a stream and working your way to where the wild things are.
CaChE riVEr national wildlife refuge. see page 42 f0r more info. PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY ARKANSAS PARKS AND TOURISM 38 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
issue no. 2
catch a glimpse of something grand in each of arkansas'’ regions: LAKE FORT SMITH
Bald eagles (like this one on Bull shoals lake) are one of arkansas' most wellknown birds.
No.1 ‑ OZARK PLATEAU BULL SHOALS (36.3752393,-92.6263735)
While Bull Shoals and its parent stream, the White River, are known nationwide as some of the best fishing in the country, there are more than just fish in the area’s wildlife repertoire. Bird-watchers in particular will find themselves in an avian ecstasy, surrounded by Lapland Longspurs, Meadowlarks and various finches, sparrows and orioles (and that’s just for starters). Paddlers should keep their eyes peeled for the lake’s population of herons, egrets and other water birds. In addition to these birds, falcons, eagles and other birds of prey are also common.
OF INTEREST: Visitors to the Bull Shoals area can find camping
and facilities at Bull Shoals-White River State Park, or stay at some of the state’s best fishing resorts like Gaston’s in Lakeview.
For more information, including a birding checklist, visit arkansasstateparks.com/bullshoalswhiteriver.
Black bear populations in the arkansas Ozarks are at their healthiest levels in decades, resulting in more frequent sightings.
LAKE FORT SMITH (35.6954003,-94.1209798)
The area around Lake Fort Smith in Mountainburg might be better known as a backpacking destination, but there are some wonderful wildlife-spotting opportunities on the 1,400-acre body of water. Interpreters at Lake Fort Smith State Park conduct kayak tours from the park’s marina—or take off on your own and see the glory of the Ozarks. The area is home to bears, bobcats and white-tailed deer, making Lake Fort Smith a great destination for those looking to branch out from bird-watching.
OF INTEREST: Lake Fort Smith is just south of Fayetteville, so
visitors are just a short drive away from one of Arkansas’ most exciting metropolitan areas. Once the paddles are put away, put wheels to trails in the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s only “regional” ride center: northwest Arkansas.
For more information, visit arkansasstateparks.com/lakefortsmith. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 39
Migratory birds such as these Canada geese use bodies of water like lake Dardanelle as rest stops along their journey.
LITTLE RED RIVER
No.2 ‑ ARKANSAS RIVER VALLEY
COSSATOT RIVER "SKULL-CRUSHER"
see page 36 for more info about this epic spot!
LAKE DARDANELLE STATE PARK (35.2853186,-93.2065808)
Its location in the Mississippi Flyway makes Lake Dardanelle one of the best bird-watching destinations in the state, particularly for migratory birds. The feathers fly so much in the area, in fact, that Lake Dardanelle has been named an “Important Bird Area” by the National Audubon Society. Various geese and swans are common to the area during season, and the ducks are plentiful and numerous. A park-specific birding checklist is available.
OF INTEREST: Camping is available at both the main
park location in Russellville and the Dardanelle location. The lake also boasts great fishing and a world-class 1,861-square foot bass fishing tournament weigh-in pavilion. Kayaks and other boats are available for rent.
For more information, visit arkansasstateparks. com/lakedardanelle. GULF MOUNTAIN WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA (35.5439715,-92.6337341)
This area on the Little Red River in Van Buren County is home to wild turkeys, bears, quail and coyote. Trout fishermen have long loved the area, but not only are the cool, clear waters of the Little Red worth paddling, the landscape and wildlife-viewing opportunities are unparalleled.
OF INTEREST: Explorers will find a lot to love in the
various limestone cracks and crevices located in the area. The nearby towns of Greers Ferry, Fairfield Bay and Heber Springs are all wonderful destinations for paddling, hiking, fishing and relaxing resort stays.
For more information, visit agfc.com. 40 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
issue no. 2
No.3 ‑OUACHITA MOUNTAINS COSSATOT RIVER STATE PARK-NATURE AREA (34.2938235,-94.1796357)
The “skull-crusher” is known as one of the most exciting (and potentially dangerous) streams around to paddle, but the area is also known for a plethora of critters for folks to spy on. Like creepy-crawlies? Then check out the various aquatic worms, snails, clams and mussels that make this stream their home. Then keep a sharp look-out for the deer, squirrels and other fleeting furries that make the hardwoods of the Cossatot area their home.
OF INTEREST: Since this river is not recommended
for inexperienced paddlers when water levels are up, it’s recommended that visitors call ahead to verify conditions. Or check out water levels from the United States Geological Survey’s site for up-to-date water info.
For more information visit waterdata.usgs. gov. ISLETS COVE PADDLE TRAIL (-93.1265629, 34.2230897)
This AGFC water trail is located on Lake DeGray and features a 3-mile loop with numbered, interpretive stops along the way. A trail-specific brochure is available. DeGray is famous for its bald eagles, so keep an eye out for their majestic flights.
OF INTEREST: Head north to experience the historic
fun of Hot Springs—or perhaps a trip to the Magic Springs theme park.
the elusive roadrunner is one of the most sought-after sightings in the Ouachita Mountains.
FELSENTHAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
No.4 ‑COASTAL PLAIN
FELSENTHAL NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE (33.1494045,-92.0626003)
One of the AGFC’s designated water trails, this section of the Ouachita River bottoms in Ashley County is home to an incredible number of opportunities for wildlife watchers. Explore the sloughs, swamps and flatwater of the refuge—there are egrets, herons, wood storks and ibis seasonally; bald eagles, woodpeckers and osprey are seen all year. Beavers, otters, mink, various snakes and alligators also make their homes in the area, and are easily spotted.
Blending into the still, stump-ridden waters they call home, alligators can be hard to spot, and unnerving when you do.
OF INTEREST: Primitive camping is available in the refuge, and the cypress trees provide an otherworldly backdrop for some of the state’s best fishing.
For more information, visit agfc.com. MORO BAY STATE PARK (33.3007478,-92.3518037)
Slide through the cypress on the murky waters of Moro Bay to catch a glimpse of water snakes and the many birds that make the area their home. Various mammals such as squirrels, fox, deer, otters, mink and coyote also make this lake their home. And like many southeast Arkansas bodies of water, elusive alligators are rare but not unknown.
OF INTEREST: Check out the Moro Bay Ferry
exhibit which features a historic tugboat and barge, a testament to the area’s history as a thoroughfare for travelers and commerce.
For more information, visit arkansasstateparks.com/morobay.
While not commonly thought of as an arkansas native, the state does boast populations of red foxes along its southern waters. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 41
Many people aren't aware that pelicans can be found in arkansas, but the waters of the southern part of the state are home to a healthy population.
ARKANSAS POST WATER TRAIL
VILLAGE CREEK STATE PARK
raccoons are generally nocturnal, but can sometimes be spotted by sharpeyed paddlers.
No.5 ‑MISSISSIPPI DELTA ARKANSAS POST WATER TRAIL (34.0210974,-91.3478851)
A flat-water treat, the Arkansas Post Water Trail is one of the AGFC’s official “water trails.” Beavers, nutria, muskrats, deer and raccoons are all part of the bayou scene along the water trail—as are apex predator alligators. Songbirds, white pelicans, bald eagles and other waterfowl are also commonly spotted.
OF INTEREST: Get a little history in your life at the
Arkansas Post National Memorial, then head to nearby DeWitt for some good eats at The Bull Pen restaurant.
For more information, visit nps.gov/arpo/ index.htm. CACHE RIVER NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE (35.0606059,-91.3167996)
The Cache rose to prominence some years ago with rumors that the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, a presumed-extinct species once known as the “Lord God Bird” for its striking presence, had been sighted. Such rumors were never proven, but it’s a testament to the dank wilderness around the Cache. With over 200 species of birds, 50 species of mammals and 45 species of reptiles and amphibians, there’s a precisely zero chance that paddlers will make their float without seeing something interesting.
OF INTEREST: The various ox-bow lakes and
backwaters of southeast Arkansas boast some fine fishing opportunities—bream, crappie and bass in particular.
For more information, visit agfc.com. 42 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
issue no. 2
No.6 ‑CROWLEY'S RIDGE VILLAGE CREEK STATE PARK (35.168237,-90.7236273)
The thing about Crowley’s Ridge is that nobody really knows what the thing is. Known as a “geologic anomaly,” it is home to mixed hardwood forests. Paddlers will find themselves floating through this oddball area on Lake Austell and Lake Dunn, and in addition to great fishing, there are numerous waterfowl-sighting opportunities.
OF INTEREST: Once you’ve stowed your boat, play a
round of golf at the Andy Dye signature Ridges at Village Creek golf course. It’s a PGA-caliber experience.
For more information, visit arkansasstatesparks.com/villagecreek. LAKE FRIERSON STATE PARK (35.9729443,-90.7194435)
While Lake Frierson is known mostly for its year-round fishing for bream, catfish, crappie, saugeye and bass, it’s also home to herons, geese, ducks, hawks, woodpeckers and dozens of other bird species. A park-specific birdwatching checklist is available.
OF INTEREST: Rental boats are available along with camping, playground and boat launch facilities.
For more information, visit arkansasstateparks.com/lakefrierson.
OZARK MOUNTAIN REGION Enjoy a beautiful getaway in the Ozark Mountains! EXPERIENCE
the Beauty of the Buffalo National River with Buffalo Camping & Canoe
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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 43
GET OUT & PLAY
DON'T MISS THIS!
PHOTO BY NOVO STUDIO
ARKANSAS CANOE CLUB SCHOOL OF RIVER PADDLING JUNE 9-11 RIVERSIDE RESORT, MAMMOTH SPRING arkansascanoeclub.com
MONTH OF AUGUST
BYRDFEST 14 MUSIC FESTIVAL byrdsadventurecenter.com ARKANSAS CANOE CLUB SCHOOL OF WHITEWATER PADDLING arkansascanoeclub.com
SEE PAGE 50 FOR MORE INFO.
FLOATINâ€™ FOR A CURE goseedoar.org
HOMEGROWN ON THE RIVER MUSIC FESTIVAL byrdsadventurecenter.com
MUSIC ON THE MULBERRY byrdsadventurecenter.com
PADDLE BATTLE/BOATI GRAS fairfieldbaystartstoday.com/paddlebattle
LAKE CATHERINE FULL MOON KAYAK TOUR arkansasstateparks.com/lakecatherine
6 BRIDGES REGATTA 6br.org
14TH ANNUAL WHITE RIVER MARATHON whiterivermarathon.com/kayaking.html
44 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
issue no. 2
MAY 4 | 6-9pm
Arkansas United Communities Coalition
river market pavilion
Available for purchase
Join the fun as Don Julio, the world’s first ultra-premium tequila, presents •
Thursday, May 4 at the Little Rock River Market for the first annual Margarita Festival
It’s a salute to the perfection of a great margarita
Sample takes on the classic cocktail from the city’s best bartenders and VOTE for your favorites and crown one
Competing Bars & Restaurants Agave Grill Big Whiskey Bleu Monkey Boulevard Bistro Cache Restaurant Cajun’s Wharf Copper Grill Ernie Biggs Loca Luna O’Looney’s & Loblolly The Pizzeria Revolution Taco & Tequila Bar Samantha’s Taco Mama Trio’s
Food Available for Purchase from Loca Luna Taco Mama
Latin Salsa tunes & Jimmy Buffett standards from Club 27 Little Rock Salsa
TICKETS Early Bird Ticket Price: $25 centralarkansastickets.com
Tickets are limited. Please purchase early.
margarita best of the ‘fest
A R K A NDS A S WIL
GET OUT & PLAY
PHOTO BY NOVO STUDIO
LOCAL GUIDES, OUTFITTERS, OUTDOOR RETAILERS & RENTALS
GENE LOCKWOOD’S 12101 W. Markham St., Little Rock 501-227-7678 facebook.com/GeneLockwoods OZARK OUTDOOR SUPPLY 5514 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock 501-664-4832 ozarkoutdoor.com SOUTHERN REEL OUTFITTERS 14908 Cantrell Rd., Ste. 2, Little Rock 501-224-6160 southernreeloutfitters.com
SUP OUTFITTERS 479-244-7380 sup-outfitters.com
BIG PINEY CREEK
MOORE OUTDOORS 53 Old Highway 7, Dover 479-331-3606 mooreoutdoors.com
BUFFALO ADVENTURES HC 70 Box 92, Jasper 870-446-5406
LEWIS & CLARK OUTFITTERS 640 Garland Ave., Rogers 479-695-0202
BUFFALO CAMPING & CANOEING 13 Frost St., Gilbert 870-439-2888 gilbertstore.com
4915 S. Thompson St., Springdale 479-756-1344 gooutandplay.com
BUFFALO OUTDOOR CENTER 1 Main St., Ponca 870-861-5514
LOST BRIDGE MARINA 12861 Marina Rd., Garfield 479-359-3222 lostbridgemarina.com
BUFFALO RIVER CANOES HC 70 Box 136 B, Jasper 870-446-2644 floatthebuffalo.com
OZARK MOUNTAIN TRADING COMPANY 14644 E. Hwy. 62, Garfield 479-451-1837 ozarkmtc.com
BUFFALO RIVER FLOAT SERVICE 11637 AR-14, Yellville 870-449-2042 buffaloriverfloatservice.com
STARKEY MARINA 4022 Mundell Rd., Eureka Springs 479-253-8194 starkeymarina.com 46 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
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BUFFALO RIVER OUTFITTERS 9664 US-65, St. Joe 870-439-2244 buffaloriveroutfitters.com
CROCKETT’S COUNTRY STORE & CANOE RENTAL 119 W. Highway 14, Harriet 870-448-3892 buffalorivercanoerental.com DIRST CANOE & LOG CABINS 538 Hwy 268 E., Yellville 870-449-6636 dirstcanoerental.com GORDON’S MOTEL & CANOE RENTAL 206 AR-7, Jasper 870-446-5252 gordonmotel.com LOST VALLEY CANOE & LODGING AR-43, Ponca 870-861-5522 lostvalleycanoe.com SILVER HILL FLOAT SERVICE 9826 US-65, St. Joe 870-439-2372 silverhillfloatservice.com WILD BILL’S OUTFITTER 23 Hwy 268 E., Yellville 870-449-6235 wildbillsoutfitter.com
BULL SHOALS LAKE
BULL SHOALS LAKE BOAT DOCK AND MARINA SERVICES 719 Shorecrest Dr., Bull Shoals 870-445-4424 bullshoalslakeboatdock.com
Take a NATURA
L RECRE DESTIN ATION ATION
On beautiful Greers Ferry Lake
all marina paddle crafts! (SUP, kayaks, canoes, paddle boats)
Ozark Mountain Lake Resort & Community
L A K E P L AY • N AT U R E T R A I L S • G O L F I N G • F I S H I N G • T E N N I S • Paid for with a combination of state and Greers Ferry Lake/Little Red River Tourism Association funds. Go to visitgreersferrylake.org for our free area guide.
Mention this ad to FFB Marina. (Limit 1 rental per customer)
Save the Date Fri. & Sat. June 16-17
Sat. Sept. 16
P A D D L E O N 14908 CANTRELL RD., STE. 2, LITTLE ROCK, AR I SOUTHERNREELOUTFITTERS.COM ARKANSASWILD.COM | 47
GET OUT & PLAY
ARROWHEAD CABIN & CANOE RENTAL 69 Arrowhead Dr., Caddo Gap 870-356-2944 CADDO RIVER CAMPING & CANOE RENTAL, INC. 26 AR-8, Glenwood 870-356-5336 caddoriver.com LUCKY’S CADDO RIVER CANOE AND KAYAK RENTAL 138 Sweet Gum Ln., Glenwood 870-356-2772 caddocanoeandkayak.com
CADRON CREEK OUTFITTERS 54 Cargile Ln., Greenbrier 501-993-1650 cadroncreekoutfitters.com
GREER’S FERRY LAKE
FAIRFIELD BAY MARINA 4350 Hwy. 330 S., Fairfield Bay 501-884-6030 visitfairfieldbay.com PETERS SUGAR LOAF MARINA 1379 Resort Rd., Heber Springs 501-654-2555 sugarloafmarina.com SULPHUR CREEK OUTFITTERS 625 S. 7th St., Heber Springs 501-691-0138 screekoutfitters.com
KINGS RIVER OUTFITTERS 8190 AR-221, Eureka Springs 479-253-8954 kingsriveroutfitters.com RIVERSIDE RESORT ON KINGS RIVER 3031 Hwy. 62 W., Berryville 870-423-3116 riversideresortandcanoes.com
BALBOA MARINA 480 Ponce de Leon Dr., Hot Springs Village 501-922-3435
H2:4 OUTDOORS 802 Front St., Conway 501-358-6211 h24outdoors.com 48 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
issue no. 2
OZARK MOUNTAIN TRADING COMPANY 221 E. German Ln., Conway 501-358-6688 ozarkmtc.com
JUST BLOW IT UP!
BAREFOOT PADDLEBOARDS 479-447-2266 barefootpaddleboards.com
LEWIS & CLARK OUTFITTERS 4915 S. Thompson St., Springdale 479-756-1344 goooutandplay.com PACK RAT OUTDOOR CENTER 209 W. Sunbridge Dr., Fayetteville 479-521-6340 packratoc.com
GENE LOCKWOOD’S 1328 Albert Pike Rd., Hot Springs 501-623-2508 SALTY DOG BOAT & JETSKI RENTALS 4931 Central Ave., Hot Springs 501-525-7007 saltydogboatingcenter.com
OUACHITA KAYAK TOURS 350 Horseshoe Bend, Story 501-725-2925 ouachitakayaktours.com OUACHITA OUTDOOR OUTFITTERS 112 Blackhawk Ln., Hot Springs 501-767-1373 ouachitaoutdoors.com
LOVE 2 FLOAT 15689 Lake Wedington Entry, Fayetteville 479-799-5683 lovetofloatoutfitters.com
LITTLE RED RIVER
BEYOND BOUNDARIES OUTDOOR & ADVENTURE 101 S. Main St., Searcy 501-203-4002 Moving Soon: 115 E. Center Ave., Searcy beyondboundariesoa.com LINDSEY’S RESORT 350 Rainbow Lp., Heber Springs 501-362-3139 lindseysresort.com
BŌTE PADDLEBOARDS AREN’T SHY ABOUT VERSATILITY With a “surf style” shape that makes it a perfect wave-riding beach board, the BŌTE Flood paddleboard is becoming the go-to board for many paddlers. These inflatable paddleboards are a cinch to paddle, a dream to navigate—and each folds up for easy transport and storage. Check one out at one of these authorized dealers:
EDEN ISLE MARINA, HOT SPRINGS
GEARHEAD OUTFITTERS, JONESBORO, ROGERS AND LITTLE ROCK
OZARK MOUNTAIN TRADING CO., CONWAY, GARFIED AND COTTER SUP OUTFITTERS, EUREKA SPRINGS For more information on BŌTE paddleboards, visit boteboard.com.
QUAPAW CANOE COMPANY 107 Perry St., Helena 870-228-2266 island63.com
BYRD’S ADVENTURE CENTER 7037 Cass Oark Rd., Ozark 479-667-4066 byrdsadventurecenter.com TURNER BEND STORE 20034 AR-23, Ozark 479-667-3641 turnerbend.com
M & M CANOES 3692 US-270, Pencil Bluff 870-326-4937
COTTER TROUT DOCK 321 Big Spring Pkwy., Cotter 800-447-7538 cottertroutdock.com
OUACHITA RIVER HAVEN RESORT 122 Ouachita River Haven Rd. 870-326-4941, Pencil Bluff ouachitahaven.com
GASTON’S WHITE RIVER RESTORT 1777 River Rd., Lakeview 870-431-5202 gastons.com
OZARK MOUNTAIN TRADING COMPANY 124 McLean Avenue, Cotter 870-778-0070 ozarkmtc.com
MAMMOTH SPRING CANOE RENTAL 966 US-63, Mammoth Spring 870-625-3645
RILEY’S STATION FAMILY OUTFITTER 129 CR 640, Mountain Home 870-425-4221 rileysstation.com
MANY ISLANDS CAMP & CANOE RENTAL 2988 Many Islands Rd., Mammoth Spring 870-856-3451 manyislands.com
RIVERVIEW RESORT & COUNTRY STORE 17939 US-62, Eureka Springs 479-253-8367 riverviewcabinsandcanoes.com
SALINE RIVER CANOE 4444 AR-5, Benton 501-749-2266 salinerivercanoe.com
SOUTHFORK RESORT 7230 AR-289, Mammoth Spring 870-895-2803 southforkresort.com
SYLAMORE CREEK CAMP 214 Sylamore Creek Rd., Mountain View 870-585-2326 sylamorecreek.com
We offer half-day, full day, multi-day and women’s only guided climbing instruction for the beginner to the advanced climber. All of our guides are American Mountain Guide Association Certified.
LET US HELP YOU FIND YOUR ADVENTURE Contact us at: 1-501-454-4391 firstname.lastname@example.org adventureclimbingguides.com
SPRING RIVER CAMP AND CANOE 307 E. Main St., Hardy 870-856-2356 THREE RIVERS OUTFITTERS 400 Church St., Hardy 870-856-4945 3riversoutfitters.com VILLAGE ADVENTURES 286 E. Main St., Batesville 870-262-8002 3 West Cherokee Village Mall, Cherokee Village 870-257-2254 villageadventures.com
ADVENTURE MOUNTAIN OUTFITTERS 151 Spring St., Eureka Springs 479-253-0900 adventuremountainoutfitters.com ANGLERS WHITE RIVER RESORT 23080 Hwy. 5, Allison 870-585-2226 anglerswhiteriver.com
Live Your Adventure OUR GOAL IS TO PROVIDE YOU WITH THE GEAR, SERVICE AND SUPPORT NEEDED TO FULLY ENJOY THE ARKANSAS NATURAL STATE.
OUTDOOR GEAR & CLOTHING • BIKES • KAYAKS • CANOES PADDLEBOARDS • FISHING GEAR & MORE RENTALS & REPAIRS • SHUTTLE SERVICE
501-691-0138 625 S. 7TH STREET HEBER SPRINGS, AR 72543 SCREEKOUTFITTERS.COM
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 49
PHOTO COURTESY OF ARKANSAS CANOE CLUB
Certified instructors cover all the basics at the School of River Paddling.
ARKANSAS CANOE CLUB CONTINUES TO TEACH
BY DIANE MASSEY AND MICHAEL ROBERTS
ARKANSAS CANOE CLUB SCHOOL OF RIVER PADDLING JUNE 9-11 RIVERSIDE RESORT, MAMMOTH SPRING
lone among the animals, humans possess a desire for excitement that often leads us into potentially risky situations in order to feel a rush of adrenaline and dopamine. To that end, we climb steep rock formations, jump out of airplanes and numerous other activities that serve no other end beyond providing a thrill. Which brings us to paddlers, those unique creatures who toss themselves into the fiercest streams and rivers in an attempt to temporarily gain mastery over surf and wave. The risks are very real: rock formations hidden by the froth of whitewater, swift currents, swirls and whirlpools (known as eddies)—and, very often, numerous other paddlers all trying to navigate the same terrain. It can be dangerous. It is most definitely fun. And the Arkansas Canoe Club (ACC) wants everyone who has ever wanted to dip a paddle into the water to do so—and live to do it again. Each year, the ACC holds a School of River Paddling at the Riverside Resort in Mammoth Spring (in addition to its School of Whitewater Paddling on the Mulberry River), gathering experienced instructors and volunteers together for one purpose: to teach beginners how to share in the exhilaration that comes of speeding down the rapids of an Arkansas stream. In addition, courses also cover paddle etiquette, leaving students better able to read both the rivers they paddle and their fellow paddlers. There are those for whom the call of the water is one that cannot be ignored. If you are one of those people, the School of River Paddling will help you feed your need for thrills and excitement—and teach you how to get your fix safely.
For more information on the Arkansas Canoe Club School of River Paddling, visit arkansascanoeclub.com. 50 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
issue no. 2
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 51
NEW! RV Campground
Get your Buffalo National River float on with Buffalo Outdoor Center, Arkansas’ adventure resort. We can provide everything you’ll need to enjoy a float trip on America’s legendary first
Float he Legend.
national river. And our fully furnished cabins – many with hot tubs – will welcome you home after a great day on the river.
870-861-5514 BuffaloRiver.com AUTHORIZED CONCESSIONER Buffalo Outdoor Center is authorized within Buffalo National River to provide canoe rentals and transportation services. 52 | PADDLE ARKANSAS
issue no. 2