ARKANSAS WILD SPRI NG I N TO
A R K A N SAS A DVE N T U R E S
FOR ANY BUDGET
BUDDHA RUGS PLAN THEIR ASCENT
S UGAR LOAF I SLAN D ADVEN T U R E PAGE 17
RESORT NEWS & SPLENDID VIEWS SPRING 2016 a r K A N S A S w i l d.c o m
F LIP THIS IS SU E FO R TH E R UN A R K A NSAS S PE C IA L E D IT I ON
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A F i r s t -C l A s s t i m e ... e v e ry t i m e . America’s #1 Trout Fishing Resort is Gaston’s. Our White River ﬂoat trips for lunker trout are legendary from coast to coast. We do the work. All you do is ﬁsh – in style and comfort. Then there are the extras that make “resort” our last name. First-class lodging. One of the South’s finest restaurants featuring a spectacular view. A private club. Tennis and a pool. Nature trails for mountain biking and hiking. A conference lodge for your group meetings or parties. Even a private landing strip for ﬂy-in guests.
1777 River Road, Lakeview, AR 72642 870-431-5202 • Email email@example.com Lat 36 20’ 55” N Long 92 33’ 25” W 2 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SPRING 2016
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Live Outside the Expected Hot Springs Village offers an outdoor lover’s pardise in the heart of the Ouachita Mountains, featuring eleven lakes, miles of natural trails and within minutes of world-class hunting & fishing. Follow Hot Springs Village Basecamp on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, and find your place in a community made for adventurists, lazy-day paddlers and first-timers! Find training opportunities, social get-togethers and organized events deeply rooted in an outdoor culture you won’t want to leave. Come for the fun, stay for the lifestyle — Welcome to our naturehood!
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 3
CONTENTS SPRING 2016 WWW.ARKANSASWILD.COM 存 FAcebook.com/ArkansasWild
SPRING INTO OUTDOOR ADVENTURE Shake off winter's chill with Natural State Fun
24 PHOTO BY NOVO STUDIO
ARKANSAS OUTDOOR ARTISANS A look at Buddha Rugs, an Arkansas mountain climbing rope upcycler.
DEPARTMENTS 10 OUTDOOR ESSENTIALS 12 CONSERVATION 30 TOP GUIDES 32 OUT & ABOUT
4 | Arkansas Wild 存 SPRING 2016
Brian Bowen of Buddha Rugs scales a rock face at Sam's Throne in the Boston Mountains near Jasper.
WHEN YOU’VE GOT A FULL TANK AND AN EMPTY SCHEDULE.
WE’RE HERE. At First Security, we love a great road trip – especially here in our home state. Unique festivals, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, beautiful scenery and colorful people all add up to one amazing Arkansas experience. And you’ll find it all at OnlyInArk.com. So, before you jump in the car, jump online and find the perfect destination. Wherever that is, First Security is here for you.
O N LY IN A RK . C OM
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ARKANSAS WILD WWW.ARKANSASWILD.COM | FACEBOOK.COM/ARKANSASWILD
REBEKAH HARDIN Publisher firstname.lastname@example.org MANDY KEENER Creative Director email@example.com MICHAEL ROBERTS Editor firstname.lastname@example.org KEVIN WALTERMIRE Art Director email@example.com ADVERTISING ELIZABETH HAMAN Advertising Sales Director firstname.lastname@example.org LESA THOMAS Senior Account Executive email@example.com BLAKE HANNAHS New Business Development firstname.lastname@example.org RHONDA CRONE Account Executive email@example.com PRODUCTION WELDON WILSON Production Manager/Controller ROLAND R. GLADDEN Advertising Traffic Manager JIM HUNNICUTT Advertising Coordinator GRAPHIC DESIGNERS BRYAN MOATS MIKE SPAIN SOCIAL MEDIA LAUREN BUCHER firstname.lastname@example.org OFFICE STAFF ROBERT CURFMAN IT Director LINDA PHILLIPS Billing/Collections KELLY LYLES Office Manager ANITRA HICKMAN Circulation Director 201 E. MARKHAM ST., SUITE 200 LITTLE ROCK, AR 72201 501-375-2985 All Contents © 2016 Arkansas Wild 6 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SPRING 2016
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 7
FROM THE EDITOR
WORTH THE CLIMB ARKANSAS PREMIER FLY FISHING OUTFITTER AND GUIDE SERVICE. 12305 CHENAL PARKWAY SUITE B. Little Rock, AR 72211 (501) 225-6504 659 WILBURN ROAD Heber Springs, AR 72543 (501) 362-FLYS (3597)
All my aches and doubt faded away into awe at the Arkansas landscape.
MON - FRI 9-6 • SATURDAY 9-5 Rock Climbing Backpacking Camping Apparel and Footwear Kayaking Fly Fishing Rapelling Canoeing
There was a point about halfway up Sugar Loaf Mountain on Greer’s Ferry Lake when it crossed my mind that my ambition and fitness levels weren’t evenly matched. Fairfield Bay Marina dockmaster Jorn Holt and photographer Philip Thomas seemed to take the mountain all in stride, but after the last stretch of steps up to the summit, I sprawled out on a rock, barely able to speak. Then I took a look around at the view, and all my aches and doubt faded away into awe at the Arkansas landscape. Working on Arkansas Wild has been a lot like getting to the top of that mountain—during the climb, I’ve found myself more than once wondering if I’d survive. Like that hike of Sugar Loaf, though, I’ve been very lucky to have the support of a talented staff of designers, photographers and writers who all make sure that the view is just as awe-inspiring. This issue you hold in your hands is something Arkansas Wild has never done before: A combined, flip-book style magazine to launch our newest special edition, Run Arkansas (t hink t ra il a nd advent ure racing!). It’s also the first issue where I’ve served as editor, and I don’t think anyone is as excited to see it completed as I am. As with every project I have been lucky enough to work on, the greatest joy comes from meeting the people who are out every day running, hiking, biking, fishing and paddling their way around our great state. Their excitement and joy are infectious—and their love for Arkansas is unmatched.
501.767.1373 • 112 Blackhawk Lane Hot Springs, AR • ouachitaoutdoors.com PHOTO BY JEREMY RODGERS 8 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SPRING 2016
Michael Roberts Editor, Arkansas Wild @ArkansasWildMag Arkansas Times Publishing
Serving families and groups for more than 50 years.
Lindsey’s Resort 350 Rainbow Loop Heber Springs, AR 72543
Book Now! Phone: 501-362-3139 Fax: 501-362-3824
Cabins • RV & Tent Sales • Guided Fishing Trips • Boat & Motor Rental Kayak & Canoe Rental • Pot-O-Gold Restaurant
PHILIP THOMAS is the owner and operator
of Novo Studio, a photography, video and graphic design company located in northwest Arkansas.
1530 Albert Pike • 501-623-8403 www.traderbills.com • Open 7 Days a Week
THE PROFESSIONALS OF OUTDOOR SPORTS!
JIM HARRIS is a weekly contributor to KTHV, Channel 11 sports, columnist for SportinglifeArkansas.com, and freelances for a number of publications in and out of state.
TAKE A LUXERY CRUISE
The all new SanPan 2500UL with a Yamaha 250 SHO Loaded with options.
WE CAN HAVE YOU ON THE WATER TODAY!
DR. DELIA HAAK is executive director of the Illinois River Watershed Partnership. Dr. Haak earned a B.S. in Business Administration from John Brown University, a MBA from the Walton College of Business, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Arkansas.
HOT SPRINGS OLDEST BOAT DEALER
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Large selections with competitive pricing • Knowledgeable staff Handling the most innovative sporting equipment
All Things Hunting Related? Find Them Here At The Best Prices!
ERIN TAYLOR and husband Gary own Go! Running, but she spends most of her days working at her marketing consulting firm, Taylor’d Marketing. Whether on horseback, with her dog, Milo, or simply running, Erin explores and enjoys where these natural roads take her.
www.thebottoms.us • 870-998-7000 Hwy 70 & Brinkley St • De Valls Bluff, AR
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Getting outside is easy at any price point. No matter if you like things bare-bones, a little more amenity filled or roomy enough for a family, there's an outdoor essential to fit every need. BY MICHAEL ROBERTS
COLEMAN INSTANT DOME 4 This “instant” tent sleeps 4 and comes with pre-assembled poles to make setup and takedown an easy process. MSRP: $114.99 coleman.com
GANDER MOUTNAIN RIFLE RIVER DUCK CANVAS A thick cotton shell and flannel lining make this roomy, rectangular sleeping bag a steal. MSRP: $129.99 gandermountain.com
HYDRAPAK STASH 750ML How about a water bottle that twists up into something the size of a hockey puck when empty? That’s exactly what the Stash does, making it a great space saver. MSRP: $17.99 hydrapak.com 10 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SPRING 2016
CLIPPER BY COACHMEN The Clipper can sleep up to 6, but its small profile makes it the perfect small camper for couples on the go. MSRP: $15,995.00 mayflowerrv.com
RAB IGNITION 3 This light-weight synthetic sleeping bag is designed for year-round use and ease of transport. MSRP: $165 rab.equipment
HYDRO FLASK 24 OZ. INSULATED WATER BOTTLE Hydro Flask likes to brag that their products will keep a beverage ice cold for up to 24 hours, or hot for up to six. It’s a great way to have a cool drink at the end of a hot day hiking. MSRP: $29.95 hydroflask.com
AIRSTREAM CLASSIC TRAVEL TRAILER There’s nothing more iconic than the sleek silver profile of an Airstream travel trailer. The Classic sleeps 2-5, and clocks in at just over 30 feet. MSRP: $131,000 crainrv.com
KATABATIC GEAR GRENADIER This down-filled sleeping bag is the ultimate for cold weather sleeping, and can be used comfortabley without a sleeping pad. MSRP: $565 katabaticgear.com
STANLEY COFFEE PRESS Camping doesn’t mean giving up fresh brew with the Stanley Coffee Press. Combining thermos technology with a French press coffee system means great coffee that stays hot for hours. MSRP: $35 stanley-pmi.com
PHOTOS COURTESY OF VENDORS
YOUR TRIP BEGINS HERE
More than 9,700 miles of rivers and streams and 600,000 acres of lakes. World records for bass, trout and walleye. Easy access to productive waters. Plus a culture that makes you feel welcome, on the water and off. Come see us. ARKANSAS.COM
We have one of the largest inventories of canoes, kayaks, and paddling gear in the area. Come See Us!
Kayaks starting at
3 Locations to serve you! Northwest Arkansas
14644 E. Hwy 62 • Garfield, AR 72732 (479) 451-1837
North Central Arkansas
124 McLean Avenue • Cotter, AR 72626 (870) 778-0070
4381 Selmore Rd. • Ozark, MO 65721 (417) 485-3219
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COURTESY: THE ILLINOIS RIVER WATERSHED PARTNERSHIP
The Illinois River is a vital resource for both drinking water and recreation opportunities.
COOPERATION OVER DISSENSION Watershed conservation includes a diverse coalition BY DELIA HAAK Created in 2005 as a response to decades of dissension, the Illinois River Watershed Partnership chose diverse stakeholder collaboration over contentious lawsuits in order to put valuable resources into education and conservation practices that improve the watershed. Now, a decade later, the IRWP and its conservation partnersâ€™ efforts to identify and implement best water quality management practices within the Illinois River Watershed are yielding unprecedented, measurable improvements across Arkansas, Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation. Today, more than $300 million has been invested in wastewater treatment plants in northwest Arkansas that discharge treated eff luent to the River and more than $38 million in USDA Natural Resou rce Con ser vat ion Ser v ice prac t ices have been implemented on more than 50,000 acres in the watershed to i mprove water quality, plant and soil health, wildlife habitat and energy efficiency. The IRWP and its partners also established a 32-acre Watershed 12 | Arkansas Wild Â¸ SPRING 2016
Sanctuary and 9,000-square-foot Learning Center to provide scientifically based education and conservation of an ecologically sensitive cave spring, which is home to the largest population of the threatened Ozark cave fish and the endangered gray bat. While the focus of the IRWP has been effective in improving water quality within the watershed, it is important to note that the Illinois River Watershed is home to an expanding population of more than 500,000 as well as a thriving economy. How the watershed and residential, commercial and agricultural development continue to co-exist to the benefit of water quality is one of the challenges facing the region that uses the 145-mile river as both a water source and recreational attraction. Conservation efforts have focused on the implementation of Low Impact Development elements such as intercepting stormwater runoff. Low Impact Development elements include rain gardens, bioswales and wetlands which feature native grasses, flowers, shrubs and trees native to the Ozarks help dissipate
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 501-691-0138 625 S. 7TH STREET HEBER SPRINGS, AR 72543 SCREEKOUTFITTERS.COM
Share with us! #FloatWithBOC
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 first national river. And our fully furnished cabins – many with hot tubs – will welcome you home after a great day on the river.
Students learn about conservation at the Watershed Learning Center (top); Walmart interns work on watershed projects (center); kayakers enjoy the Illinois River (bottom).
runoff through the soil and plants; green roofs, vegetated walls, tree wells and porous pavers to name just a few. Conservation practices including healthy riparian buffer zones help protect the watershed while keeping v it a l u rba n a nd work i ng la nds healthy and productive. The IRWP’s vision is that the Illinois River and its tributaries will be a fully functioning ecosystem that meets all state and federal water quality standards, promotes economic sustainability and provides recreational opportunities. Over the next decade, a balanced focus on urban, rural, agricultural and forest management by all members of the coalition will ensure the future of a healthy watershed and quality of life for all residents.
870-861-5514 BuffaloRiver.com Buffalo Outdoor Center is authorized to provide canoe, kayak and raft rentals and transportation services within the Buffalo National River.
You’ve Been Wanting It Now It’s Here!
WATER, RELAXATION AND RECREATION
PADDLE BOARDS • Rafts • Canoes Kayaks • Paddle boats Lake rentals • Illinois river floats 15689 LAKE WEDINGTON ENTRY FAYETTEVILLE, AR 72704
l o v e t o f l o at o u t f i t t e r s . c o m ARKANSASWILD.COM | 13
What’s your favorite mode of transportation to enjoy the beauty of the natural world? The family car? Bicycle? Motorcycle? A boat? RV? We in the Arkansas Delta share your admiration of scenic nature, and we’re proud to share ours with you, whatever you ride ... including you horseback riders. For a fantastic adventure for both you and your horse, visit Village Creek State Park, with over twenty-five miles of trails and a horse camp that offers 30 developed campsites, modern bath house for you and wash station for your horse, plus a 66-stall stable that will pamper even the most spoiled horse! Load ’em up, head ’em out. Let’s ride!
This ad is paid for with a combination of state funds, private regional association funds and a National Scenic Byway grant. 14 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SPRING 2016
SPRING INTO OUTDOOR ADVENTURE Shake off winter’s chill with Natural State fun BY JIM HARRIS, MICHAEL ROBERTS AND ERIN TAYLOR PHOTOGRAPHY BY NOVO STUDIO AND ARKANSAS STATE PARKS
Jorn Holt takes in the amazing view of Greer's Ferry Lake from Sugar Loaf Mountain Island.
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The Indian Rock Cave in Fairfield Bay is one of Arkansas' most awe-inspiring photo opportunities.
The early morning sun shimmering on the surface of Greer’s Ferry Lake is a sight to behold, and it’s made even better by the rush of crisp air kicked up by a speeding pontoon boat. The clear water lapping against cliffs and coves is almost hypnotic, creating a sense that this is an entirely different world that exists in secret, apart from the rigors of daily life. There’s no choice but to feel refreshed and renewed from the surging thrill that comes just as soon as the boat leaves its slip. It seems almost unfair to call the town of Fairfield Bay a hidden gem. After all, attractions like the Indian Rock Cave have 16 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SPRING 2016
been drawing visitors for more than 50 years. But talking to the people of the town, it’s clear they feel there’s something to prove about this resort community on the shores of Greer’s Ferry Lake—and they’re more than proud to show all comers the numerous parks, sights and facilities. It’s a spirit found all around our state, an infectious excitement that makes getting outside imperative as the days warm up and the trees begin to bud. Are you looking for an adventure? No matter what you love to do, there’s no better place to go outside than Arkansas.
SUGAR LOAF & SURROUNDING AREAS
The Fairfield Bay Marina has everything from pontoon boats to stand-up paddle boards for rent.
FISH & FLOAT Want to get out on Greer’s Ferry Lake? Of course you do, and Fairfield Bay Marina is ground zero for great ways to do it. Rent a pontoon boat for the whole family, or take off for the amazing cliffs, coves and vistas around the lake in a kayak or stand-up paddle board. And if dock fishing’s your thing, the marina’s got you covered there, too. visitfairfieldbay.com Maybe a leisurely tour around the lake is more your speed. If so, stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer aboard the Belle of the Bay, an enclosed, heated-and-cooled tour boat that explores Greer’s Ferry Lake. Be sure to get dockmaster Jorn Holt talking about the sights—his stories of cliff diving and big fish are an added bonus. visitfairfieldbay.com
Majestic Sugar Loaf Mountain Island dominates the Greer's Ferry Lake horizon in Fairfield Bay.
Grab your pole and bait your hook—there are lots of great places to fish! Spots like the Five Fingers, Vick’s Creek, Little Peter Creek and Johnson Hole are teeming with trout, walleye and bass. World record fish have been caught on Greer’s Ferry Lake, so every cast could mean a place in the record books! greersferry.org If you’re looking for a different way to catch your limit, find out where all those trout come from with a trip to the Greer’s Ferry Hatchery in Heber Springs. Take the self-guided tour, then head on over to the adjacent trout fishing areas on the Little Red River for a chance to haul in some of the 707,000 rainbow trout raised annually. fws.gov/greersferry
The Greer's Ferry Hatchery supplies brown and rainbow trout for lakes and rivers across Arkansas. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 17
SUGAR LOAF & SURROUNDING AREAS
BIKE & HIKE You’ll need a boat to get out to Sugar Loaf Mountain Island, but that’s just another great reason to get into a kayak or head out on a stand-up paddle board. The Mule Trail to the top can be arduous, but the view from the top is even more breathtaking. visitfairfieldbay.com
Hikers make the final ascent of Sugar Loaf Mountain island on Greer's Ferry Lake. There are few spots in the state as lovely as Bridal Veil Falls in Heber Springs.
Is a shorter trek more your thing? You’ll want to visit the Indian Hills Golf Course—it’s hiding something spectacular: A huge rock cave down off the ninth fairway. The trail is less than a mile, so it’s perfect for kids. visitfairfieldbay.com Grab your bikes, because since its formation in 2010, the Greer’s Ferry Lake Trails Council has planned and opened miles of multiuse trails, starting with a 10-mile section along an old M&N Railroad Route. There are trails for every skill level here, so print a map and plan your route. gfltc.com There aren’t many sights prettier than Bridal Veil Falls in Heber Springs. These falls pour down from 584 feet above sea level. And the trails down to the falls have been recently upgraded, making the walk down to see the water almost as lovely as the falls themselves. heberspringsparksandrec.com Bonus Hike: Did you know there are two Sugar Loaf Mountains? Once you’ve hiked the island, head over to Heber Springs to hike the landlocked mesa also known as “Sugar Loaf.” 18 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SPRING 2016
Heber Springs is home to Arkansas' land-locked Sugar Loaf Mountain, another great place to hike and climb.
These cliffs near Fairfield Bay are one of the best and most unique diving spots in The Natural State.
STAY & SWIM The old town of Higden was flooded when the Greer’s Ferry Dam opened, but you can still dive down into the clear waters of Greer’s Ferry Lake to see the former location. There are old homes and other buildings, plus natural rock formations around the lake worth seeing all on their own. divesitesinarkansas.com For a family friendly fishing experience, Lindsey’s Resort in Heber Springs is just the ticket. Hook up your RV, pitch a tent or stay in one of Lindsey’s cabins— they’re comfortable and fully furnished. The resort’s guides can show you where to catch trout on the Little Red River, and there’s even a shoreline lunch for folks looking to catch their supper. lindseysresort.com Looking for a place to stay? The John F. Kennedy Campground on the Little Red River has all the hookups you’ll need to stay comfortable. recreation.gov
Relaxing after a day of adventure is easy at Lindsey's Resort on the Little Red River in Heber Springs.
DON’T MISS Every adventure needs good eats, and Janssen’s Lakefront Restaurant in Edgemont is the place to get them. Steak and seafood dishes are mouthwatering, and the full bar makes unwinding with a drink a snap, too. janssenslakefront.com There’s nothing better than a hearty breakfast, and the Rustic Inn in Heber Springs is the place to go for it. The biscuits are fluffy, the coffee is fresh and a sizzling plate of hash browns is just the thing to get a day of adventuring off to a great start. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 19
BIKE & HIKE Test your mountain bike prowess on the 40 miles of singletrack that make up the Upper Buffalo Mountain Bike Trail in Madison County. It’s one of Arkansas’ “epic” mountain bike trails, and the deep hardwood forest makes wildlife spotting an added bonus. imba. com/epics/upper-buffalo
An Arkansas Wild favorite, canoeing and enjoying the majestic cliffs along the Buffalo River.
FISH & FLOAT The Buffalo River and Tyler Bend outside Marshall are awesome for tubing,. Riding the current on an inner tube is the best way to get up close and personal with the river. nps.gov/buff/planyourvisit/tylerbend-campground.htm Jim Gaston may no longer be with us, but his spirit abides at Gaston’s White River Resort in Lakeview. There is great trout fishing below the dam, with able guides to get the novice or semi-fisherman started and in the right spots. And once the day is done, refuel at Gaston’s restaurant or take a load off back in one of the resort’s signature pink cabins. gastons.com
Turner Bend store is one of Arkansas' best spots for outfitting your float trip.
If you can’t wait to get your canoe in the water, the Turner Bend Store in Ozark has everything to get you going. They’ll ferry you up the river about 6 miles for the float back. It’s best to bring someone who knows what they're doing—but for the novice tagging along, it's a terrific way to become indoctrinated in Arkansas paddling. turnerbend.com 20 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SPRING 2016
Make a day of it on the Razorback Greenway.
Riding the Razorback Regional Greenway is fun in and of itself, but it’s the stop-offs in the six cities and downtown areas it connects that make for a true adventure. Go for a coffee at Fayetteville’s famous Arsaga’s, or drink something a little harder at the Black Apple Crossing Cidery in Springdale. nwatrails.org The city of Rogers has become a mountain bike destination. Test your skills at the Railyard Bike Park, then ride the newly renovated trails that surround Lake Atalanta. rogersar.gov Sure, the mountain biking on the Fossil Flats trail is outstanding, but the real challenge at Devil’s Den State Park in West Fork is for hikers. Test your mettle on the 18-mile Butterfield Trail, which heads deep into the Ozark National Forest. It’s a hidden gem of a trail. arkansasstateparks/devilsden One of the most underrated trails in Arkansas is the Blowing Springs Trail in Bella Vista. The ride itself is only moderately difficult, but the caves, springs and cliffs are both awe-inspiring and fun to traverse. nwatrails.org/trail/blowing-springs
STAY & SWIM Sometimes, after a hard day out on the trail, a bit of luxury is just the thing. That’s where Mount Magazine Lodge comes in. Sure, the views of the Petit Jean River Valley are spectacular, but the soft beds, tasty restaurant and indoor swimming pool make this lodge worth a visit, too. mountmagazinestatepark.com There are few places more exciting than Buffalo Point. The camping is first-rate, and so are the hiking trails—including some fantastic caves along the Indian Rockhouse Trail and expansive views of the Buffalo River on the Overlook Trail. And don’t miss the swimming areas, where the refreshing waters of the Buffalo pass beneath some truly spectacular bluffs. nps.gov/ buff/planyourvisit/buffalo-pointcampground.htm
Multi-use trails full of sculpture surround Crystal Bridges Art Museum.
DON’T MISS A unique way to get moving and enjoy art all at once, the Walking Trails at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art are a wonderful combination of sculpture, wildlife, native Ozark plants and scenic views of the Bentonville area that covers over three miles of trails. crystalbridges.org Head over to Oark to visit the Oark General Store—it’s Arkansas’ oldest continually operating business. And if historic value doesn’t hook you, the store’s famous pies certainly should! oarkgeneralstore.com
Mountain bikers test themselves on the "epic" rated LOViT.
BIKE & HIKE The Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (LOViT) is one of Arkansas' "epic" mountain biking trails, and the scenic overlooks are an added bonus that provide a lot to love for hikers, too. lakeouachitavistatrail.org/WP The Cossatot River has some of the state's most challenging rapids.
FISH & FLOAT The Cossatot River in the Ouachita Mountains is considered one of Arkansas’ premier whitewater floating experiences, with class IV and V rapids providing a challenge to the most experienced canoeists and kayakers. For paddle-based adrenalin, it doesn’t get much better than the Cossatot. When water levels are lower, the lake becomes a friendly place for swimmers and casual floaters. arkansasstateparks.com/cossatotriver If getting on the water is your thing, Lake Ouachita State Park offers public swimming areas where outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the clear, clean water— or take a boat trip out to see the wonders of Arkansas’ largest lake. The lake is a humongous 40,000 acres, with 975 miles of undeveloped shoreline lined with hundreds of quiet coves and islands waiting for you. Park interpreters offer guided tours of these coves, and they also schedule overnight kayak trips that are great for families. arkansasstateparks.com/ lakeouachita One of Arkansas’ best tubing rivers is the Caddo River in Glenwood. The river is just exciting enough to get hearts racing at parts, but there are leisurely stretches where tubers can just sit back, relax and enjoy floating through the Ouachita Mountains. caddoriver.com Fishermen have long loved Millwood Lake near Ashdown for its crappie, largemouth bass, catfish and bream fishing, while birdwatchers flock to the lake to see the eagles. A marina offers fishing boats, canoes, kayaks, pedal boats and hydro bikes for rent, making a day on the lake as easy as dipping a paddle in the water. arkansasstateparks.com/millwood
STAY & SWIM When it comes to lodging, DeGray Resort State Park has some great options. The park’s lodge provides a first-class resort experience, but for a nice mix of rustic camping and full-service hookups, stay in one of the park’s yurts. It’s a cross between a tent and cabin that truly is a one-of-a-kind outdoor experience. degray.com Yurts at DeGray State Park make for roughing it in style.
For a unique retreat, Diamond John's in Murfreesboro's teepees are unbeatable.
Everybody knows that digging for diamonds is the thing to do in Murfreesboro, but once the treasurehunting is over, take a trip to Diamond John’s Riverside Retreat and spend the night in one of four teepees. These unique accommodations are near the Diamond Springs Water Park, so be sure to pack your swimsuit. diamondjohns.com
DON’T MISS The Diamond Lakes Region is known for its bald eagles, so no trip is complete without trying to spot one of these majestic birds or their huge nests. Eagle tours are available all around the Hot Springs area. diamondlakes.dina.org ARKANSASWILD.COM | 21
Lake Mallard is a fishing and wildlife spotting paradise.
FISH & FLOAT The Arkansas record largemouth bass was caught on Lake Mallard near Manila in 1976—so it’s high time someone broke that record! The lake itself is maintained by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and even if fishing isn’t your thing, wildlife spotting opportunities abound. agfc.com Many of the state’s parks can get the family into kayaking without a lot of anxiety. Such is the case at Lake Charles State Park near Powhatan in Lawrence County. The family will enjoy a one-anda-half-hour guided tour among nature where they can take in the eastern edge of the Ozarks on a 645-acre lake of spring-fed waters. Just make reservations at the visitor center. arkansasstateparks.com/ lakecharles How about a kayaking tour of Cane Creek near Star City under a full-lit moon? You can plan for that at Cane Creek State Park, where abound opportunities to paddle all year. We’re talking about paddling in your own good time among tall cypress and plenty of wildlife. Park interpreters lead guided kayaking adventures, or you can rent a kayak and go it alone. arkansasstateparks. com/canecreek 22 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SPRING 2016
Craighead Forest Park in Jonesboro has an abundance of multi-use trails that connect hikers and bikers to Crowley's Ridge. Run, walk or even scoot your way along the scenic paths of Lake Charles State Park.
BIKE & HIKE The Craighead Forest Park in Jonesboro offers sports facilities for basketball, disc golf, softball and volleyball, but it’s the bike and hiking trails that will make you fall in love. Nearly 15 miles of mountain bike trails for beginner and advanced riders make the park a worthy destination on its own, but with three trails connecting to the Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center, the park becomes an urban gateway to one of Arkansas’ most unique places. jonesboro.org Hikers can enjoy five park trails on their own at Village Creek State Park, including one that traces the original path of the Trail of Tears. And don’t miss the fishing and swimming on Lake Austell and Lake Dunn—whether splashing for fun or catching bass, bream, crappie or catfish, these two bodies of water have it all. arkansasstateparks.com
Even young hikers can enjoy Village Creek State Park.
STAY & SWIM Folks generally think of Bear Creek Lake in Marianna as a hotspot for largemouth bass, bluegill, red-ear sunfish and catfish. But once the fish are caught, don’t leave without taking advantage of the lake’s picnic areas and public swim beach—two areas of the lake that are worth a visit all on their own. arkansas.com
Fairfield Bay is an outdoor lover’s paradise nestled on the north shore of Greers Ferry Lake. Swim and fish the clear water, play championship golf, and hike Arkansas’ only mountain island trail to spectacular views.
Felsenthal Wildlife Refuge is a perfect backdrop for bird watching and wildlife spotting.
DON’T MISS The area where the Ouachita and Saline rivers meet is home to Felsenthal Wildlife Refuge, a wonderland of waterfowl, endangered bird species like the red-cockaded woodpecker and the North American alligator. Wildlife spotters and birdwatchers will love the land and water trails. fws.gov/ refuge/felsenthal Sure, Lake Chicot is considered a must-fish lake in the Delta region, but it has long been a popular destination for birdwatchers eager to spot the area’s blacknecked stilts, bald eagles, redheaded woodpeckers and more. There are birds here that can be seen nowhere else in the world. arkansasstateparks.com/ lakechicot Just south of Wynne lies the city of Marianna, where diners can eat James Beard Award-winning barbecue at Jones Barbecue. Order by the pound and take it with you—there isn’t anything else like it around.
FISHING • GOLF • BOATING • TENNIS • TRAILS • ANNUAL EVENTS
BLOOmIN’ in the Bay, BLUES & BBQ in the Bay - SAT., mAy 7
Ozark Mountain Lake Resort & Community
VisitFairfieldBay.com 501.884.4202 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.
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 23
Brian Bowen holds a Buddha Rug as he plans his ascent.
in partnership with
Arkansas rock climbers find a new use for rope BY MICHAEL ROBERTS PHOTOS BY NOVO STUDIO For cousins Jason D. Sapp and Brian E. Bowen, starting Buddha Rugs, a company outside Jasper that upcycles mountain climbing ropes into sturdy rugs, mats, coasters and keychains was just a continuation of a deep friendship they have had since childhood. “We’ve been climbing together since 2000,” says Jason. “And before that, we did bull riding and rodeo in the '90s.” But it was a chance moment of inspiration that got the two men into the rug-making business—inspiration coupled by a lot of hard work, perseverance and innovation. “In 2006, we decided to do the 24-hour climb competition at Horseshoe Canyon,” says Jason, referring to the Jasper dude ranch’s “24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell” endurance event where two-man climbing teams compete to see who 24 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SPRING 2016
Brian Bowen and Jason Sapp want their climbing rope rugs to become standard climbing equipment.
These days, Buddha Rugs’ products are almost entirely made from recycled materials. can complete the most climbs in a 24-hour period. The grueling competition pitted the cousins against other climbers, the clock and their own drive and stamina. “We didn’t know if we were going to make it out alive,” says Brian with a laugh. It was the ropes from that climb that would become the prototype Buddha Rug. “I was trying to figure out what to get Jason for Christmas,” says Brian. Deciding that a handmade gift would mean the most, Brian had a stroke of inspiration one night playing around with a piece of rope. “I coiled up this piece of rope and noticed that the spiral pattern looked like an Eastern rug,” he says. “So I snuck into Jason’s house and stole the ropes from the Horseshoe comp.” Ropes in hand, Brian set to work sewing a rug using 50-pound test fishing line and a set of curved needles that had belonged to his grandmother. “When I first saw that rug, I was like ‘oh my gosh, there’s that rope,’” says Jason of the day he received
Heavy test fishing line holds the coiled rope securely in a spiral shape.
Cutting, shaping and sewing the rope into a rug takes around four hours. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 25
Jason Sapp prepares a rope for sewing.
Brian’s creation. “It looked really good—had a nice, clean appearance.” The attractive look of the rug coupled with its extreme durability made the two men realize that other climbers, hikers and campers might find a use for rugs like this. And so Buddha Rugs was born. Jason and Brian officially launched the company in 2010, and the response from their fellow climbers has been positive. “These aren’t just a novelty,” says Brian. “They work for indoors or outdoors. And every rug we’ve made since we’ve launched is still alive, still
Hiking with a Buddha Rug is as easy as strapping one onto your pack. 26 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SPRING 2016
functional.” It’s a testimony both to the strength of the climbing ropes themselves and the heavy stitching employed to hold everything together. The company buys rope cut- offs and end pieces (called “shorts”) direct from manufacturers like Sterling Ropes, and the cousins are currently working on a method to use recycled material for backing. Once the materials are in-hand, it takes about four hours to turn raw rope into a finished Buddha Rug—a slow process that must also compete with each man’s full-time job and family. continued on page 28
TRAILS TO YOU.
Running, hiking, riding, floating or just wandering… whatever your pleasure, your Arkansas State Parks have trails galore. Wherever you are in Arkansas, there’s a state park nearby. So come on out.
ArkansasStateParks.com My park, your park, our parks
Pinnacle Mountain State Park #ARStateParks
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The "Butt Rug" provides a readily available seat anywhere outside.
Because each rug is handmade, there is generally a turnaround of several months for orders, but Brian says that customers don’t mind. “We like the grassroots feel of it,” he says. “The long turnaround is part of the joy.” Most of the company’s orders still come from people who climb at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, an association that Jason and Brian are so proud of, they have also begun making trophies for the event. The current Buddha Rug product line has expanded to include the “Butt Rug,” a smaller, back-pack-friendly mat designed to provide hikers with a clean place to sit out on the trail, and the coaster-sized “Mug Rug.”
Your Adventure Starts Here OzarkOutdoor.com
5514 Kavanaugh Blvd. | Little Rock, AR | 501-664-4832
Jason Sapp climbs with the same ropes used for Buddha Rugs.
Other rope items made by Bowen and Sapp include key chains
W h i l e B r i a n a n d Ja s o n a r e always trying to think of new ways to use climbing ropes, they are happy to allow the company t o g r o w s l o w l y, e n j o y i n g t h e organic spread of their product through word of mouth. “If we methodically move through this, it’s something that later on we’ll have a strong business,” says Jason. Given the strength of the Buddha Rugs themselves, it’s easy to agree. To find out more about Buddha Rugs or place an order, visit buddharugs.com or facebook.com/buddharugs.
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tell us who is the best in the field gear shops for biking hiking, fishing & running top outfitters & guides your picks for trails, lakes, lodges and more!
vote online today! arkansaswild.com
winners announced in the summer issue ARKANSASWILD.COM | 29
Everything is provided with this Greer's Ferry Lake guide BY MICHAEL ROBERTS
Q: WHAT TARGET SPECIES DOES YOUR GUIDE OFFERING FOCUS ON? A: We focus on rainbow, brown, cutthroat and brook trout. Q: WHAT REGIONS OR BODIES OF WATER DO YOU FISH? A: Primarily the Little Red River below the Greer’s Ferry Dam, but I occasionally guide on the White and Norfork Rivers as well. Q: HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE ELSEWHERE, ON OTHER BODIES OF WATER?
A: Yes, I have guided on the Kenai and Russian Rivers on the Kenai Peninsula near Cooper Landing, Alaska. Q: WHAT IS IT THAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR GUIDE OFFERING? A: I am a full service guide. If my clients need to figure out where to stay on the river while they are here, I help them book a cabin. When it comes to our day of fishing, no equipment or experience is necessary. I provide all rods, reels, flies and other things needed for a successful day. On full day trips I provide lunch, drinks and snacks for everyone, and on half-day trips I provide drinks and snacks as well.
Q: HOW LONG HAVE YOU GUIDED PROFESSIONALLY? A: Since 2010. Q: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE STYLE OF FISHING? A: Fly Fishing Q: WHAT’S THE BIGGEST FISH YOU’VE EVER CAUGHT? A: I caught a 65-pound king salmon on the Kenai River in Alaska while fishing for silver salmon. It took about 30 minutes to bring in on 15-pound line. Q: WHAT PIECE OF EQUIPMENT COULD YOU NOT LIVE WITHOUT AS A GUIDE? A: Sunglasses. It’s amazing what you can see from the boat with them on. Q: DO YOU HAVE A PARTICULAR BRAND OF BOAT YOU PREFER? HOW ABOUT ROD AND REEL? A: I guide out of a Supreme L48XP—it’s a great boat built in Midway. Sage rod and reels are my favorite. Q: WHO TAUGHT YOU THE MOST TO PREPARE YOU TO BE A PROFESSIONAL GUIDE? A: My dad was the one who first took me fishing on the Little Red River when I was only 4 or 5, so I owe a lot to him. In my professional career my good friend, Jeff Smith, the creator of the Trout Magnet, helped me get into guiding. To set up your all-inclusive fishing trip with James, call 501-207-1770 or visit tailwaterfishing.com.
30 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SPRING 2016
PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSH KEAR
JAMES DILLARD, TAILWATER FISHING
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 31
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ARKANSAS PARKS AND TOURISM AND LONGBOW RESORT
OUT & ABOUT
LONGBOW RESORT Prim, Arkansas
BY MICHAEL ROBERTS The Bushmaster cabin is perched on a rock face over its own private creek.
A UNIQUE STAY
In 1992, Ben Pearson, Jr. decided to open Longbow Resort on land that had belonged to his father. “It was friends who inspired me to do it,” he says. He visited several resorts in the area to get a feel for how things were done and decided that it was just what he wanted to do. The result was a set of cabins unlike any others in the state. In 1996, Pearson Jr. opened the second cabin at Longbow, the Bushmaster, keeping with his father’s vision of architecture that blends into and complements the environment. Followed in 2002 by the Bois d’Arc and in 2011 by the Sovereign, each cabin at Longbow has its own personality, style and aesthetic. “Some folks might be inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright or Fay Jones,” says Pearson Jr. “For me, it was my dad.”
HIKE, RIDE OR GET MARRIED
Great lodging with first-rate amenities are just the beginning at and near Longbow Resort. Hikers, bikers and ATV riders alike have miles of trails at their disposal, including the Syllamo Trail north of Mountain View, rated "epic" by the International Mountain Biking Association. Pearson Jr. says the resort attracts a variety of people, from families looking for fun to anglers drawn to the world-class fishing on nearby Greer's Ferry Lake. “We also get honeymooners,” Pearson Jr.
says. “And we do a few small weddings a year.” It’s a market that Longbow wants to tap into further, and to this end, the resort’s next construction project isn’t a new cabin, it’s an event center that will offer all the space any prospective newlyweds might want.
NEARBY EATS AND ATTRACTIONS
Mountain View lies just 20 miles due north of the resort. The Ozark Folk Center is a wonderful place to explore the state’s history of music, crafts and folk art, while the natural beauty of Blanchard Springs Caverns provides a memorable experience to visitors. Rustic country stores like OK Trading Post and Mellon’s Country Store make for unique shopping, and no trip to Mountain View is complete without a stop at Tommy’s Famous Pizza. And for something very different, ride a zipline through the Ozark canopy at Loco Ropes in Mountain View.
ENJOY THE QUIET
“One thing that made me want to come here—I was an engineer working in California and spent six months driving between Los Angeles and San Diego,” says Ben Pearson, Jr. The secluded trails, pools and waterfalls of Longbow Resort and the Prim area are sure to wash away the loud noises of city life. It’s a mix of luxury and rustic in one of Arkansas’ most beautiful areas.
About an hour-and-a-half north of Little Rock, at 4349 Prim Road in Prim. GPS: 35.6979537, -92.1102786
PLAN YOUR TRIP
Visit longbowresorts.com or call 870-948-2362. . ol at Longbow A secluded po 32 | Arkansas Wild ¸ SPRING WINTER 2016 2015
Blanchard Springs Caverns.
il. Syllamo bike tra
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