(BPT) - The weather is warming and now is the best time to plan your spring and summer vacation in the beautiful outdoors of The Natural State — Arkansas.
While Arkansas offers an abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities on dry land and in the water, one of the premiere locations is Buffalo National River, which winds through the majestic Ozark Mountains.
This year marks the Buffalo National River’s 50th anniversary as a unit of the National Park Service, becoming America’s first “national river.”
The crystal-clear waters of the Buffalo National River extend for 135 miles cutting through limestone basins. The limestone is responsible for the beautiful turquoise color. The river chemically breaks down the limestone sediment, which is transported downstream. When hit by the sunlight, the sediment reflects the turquoise hue for which the Buffalo is well-known.
Whether visitors stay for a day or for a week, there is plenty to see and experience at Buffalo National River. It starts with spending time on the river itself. Bring your own canoe or rent one from the various nearby private outfitters and enjoy a variety of river experiences ranging from an exhilarating paddle to a relaxing and peaceful float. As you do, you will marvel at the tall limestone and sandstone bluffs that border the river.
Wildlife comprises an important part of the Buffalo National River ecosystem. While black bears are native to the area, visitors often travel many miles to Buffalo National River to see some of the nearly 100 Rocky Mountain Elk, which call the Boxley Valley area near the river home. There are also approximately 200 species of birds that depend on the river for at least some part of the year, including Bald Eagles.
After a few hours of floating Buffalo National River, visitors can change out of water shoes and slip on a pair of hiking boots for a glimpse at undisturbed and protected landscapes. There are over 100 miles of maintained trails throughout the Park. The trails will lead you to one of many picturesque waterfalls and to scenic overlooks that cascade several hundreds of feet to the river below.
Nighttime is especially magical at Buffalo National River. There you will see some of the darkest skies in North America. Designated as an International Dark Sky Park in 2019, visitors will marvel at the beautiful starlit skies, which are unlike any you’ll see in the city.
While at Buffalo National River, visitors can pitch a tent or park their RV at one of the 11 designated campgrounds located within the park. There are also several private lodging options near the river.
Take a year away from amusement parks and city life and return to nature. Introduce your family to an experience they’ll never forget and one to which they will long return.