Arkansas Escape: Winter Arkansas Getaway Contest

Buffalo-River-by-doug_wertmanArkansas Tourism is holding a contest with a reward of a $1,500 Visa card to spend on an Arkansas getaway. If you haven’t yet entered, do so right now! The contest closes soon.

Even if you don’t win, it’s fun to dream up what you might use the $1,500 on for a winter vacation in Arkansas. What would we do with the money to enjoy all that Arkansas has to offer this season?

First, we’d buy some new winter camping equipment that we’ve had our eyes on for ourselves at Uncle Sam’s (hint!). Then we’d pull out the Delorme map and plan an awesome camping trip with plenty of hiking, rock climbing, and maybe some canoeing if the weather was warm enough. The thing about Arkansas is we have 70 degree days in the winter— or ice storms. You never know! Being flexible with your outdoor plans is key to getting the most out of Arkansas in the winter.

Buffalo River Trail

The Buffalo River Trail is perfect for a multi-day hiking trip with bouldering and canoeing. It follows the path of the Buffalo National River, running between the Whitely Homestead in Boxley Valley to the picnic area in Pruitt. It’s 36 1/2 miles of Ozark wilderness—in fact, you don’t have to even do it from end to end since there are plenty of trailheads along the route.

If the weather is fine, you can even make it into a loop by canoeing downriver and then hiking your way back. The lower portion of the trail is still under construction and eventually the trail will be even longer. The partner trail, the Old River Trail, is better suited for summer weather because of river crossings that require getting wet.

It’s certainly not for the uninitiated since many parts of the trail are very strenuous. If you’re prepared, the Buffalo River Trail has vast rewards. Take a look at the National Park Service Map to get an idea what’s in store, including elevation changes to give you clues about what to expect.

Why is this perfect for winter hiking? Once all the leaves are gone on the trees, you can see the terrain better from the high peaks and take advantage of looking down on the Buffalo—during the leafy seasons, you can’t always see the Buffalo in it’s glory from up high because of the blocked view. The best views are captured along the Ponca to Kyle’s Landing section. One blogger gives a great detailed account of hiking through the Buffalo River Trail in the different sections and what you can expect so be sure to give it a read before deciding to hike out.

If you’re a climber, there’s plenty of bouldering along the way and even more if you’re willing to bushwhack a bit in. Tim Ernst has a great guide of the Buffalo River Trails that is a must have resource.

If we won the $1500, we’d spend it on food and gear to use out on the Buffalo River Trail, as well as a shuttle service so we don’t have to worry about the logistics of getting to the trailhead. We’re sure to still have plenty of money left over after buying gear, food, and paying for a shuttle so if we felt up to it we might also throw in some zip-line fun in the Buffalo River Area and climbing at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch!

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