This is part 2 of a 2 part post. Part 1 covers general information on the Buffalo National River and the Lost Valley Trail. Click here to see part 1. Part 2 below, details Erbie Campground, Chimney Rock Bluff, the Grand Canyon of Arkansas, and some of the wild creatures we encountered during our stay here.
One of the areas we visited near Buffalo National River was the beach at Erbie Group Campground, south of Erbie, Arkansas. This wasn’t the most convenient place to spend a few hours, as it required us to park in one place and carry all of our stuff for the day (towels, lunches, bags, etc.) over 300 yards to get to the beach. Nevertheless, the solitude and beauty of the area was worth the trouble to get there.
The Buffalo National River is in the back of the campground, well behind the area of any campers (none were here during our visit). This area was quite isolated and very quiet. Giant slabs of smooth rock laid in the river, great for small children to safely explore and for adults to cool off without total submersion; water was rather shallow in this section. The river was gently flowing, creating delicate rapids, as the water flowed over rocks.
The beach near Erbie Campground is mostly shaded and there are no facilities immediately in this area. The few outhouses we saw around the campground area were closed or locked. Be prepared for no amenities at the Erbie Group Camground if you head here on your own.
This area west of Hasty, Arkansas is located just off of highway 84. When we arrived at this part of the Buffalo National River, we were again treated with complete solitude. Before us was a large cliff of rock, partially obscured by trees. Here, the water had a greenish tint, but we could still see some big fish in the clear water.
Turkey vultures flew overhead and nested in a bare tree on the bluff. The beach was quite large and spacious, and directly in the sun. Keep in mind there are also no facilities or amenities here at Chimney Rock Bluff. Getting here is an easy walk from the parking lot to the beach.
Who knew there was a “Grand Canyon” of Arkansas? In Jasper, Arkansas, you can find the Arkansas “Grand Canyon,” which is the deepest canyon within the Ozarks.
Jasper is a small town whose main square isn’t too far from a scenic view of the canyon (complete with small gift shop and viewing tower). During our visit to Buffalo National River, we rented a home right next to this “Grand Canyon.” Our home was atop a large bluff and was a treehouse of sorts, complete with stilts and a gorgeous overlook into this “Grand Canyon.” From sunrise to sunset, we enjoyed the beautiful views and changing weather in this rural area.
The land was mostly quiet, with the exception of highway traffic and the cicadas’ deafening clicking noises at night. We didn’t see any wild animals out here, but assume there are many roaming around. Most of the area within this part of the canyon is government/state protected or owned by farmers. There are quite a few farms within the canyon.
The vast majority of the landscape surrounding the Buffalo National River is natural. There are no big cities or towns – only small towns dot the area. Harrison is the largest city that’s near the Buffalo National River, and even that is at least 30 minutes away, depending on where you’re located on the river.
As nature dominates these highlands, we were fascinated to see some rather “unusual” (for us) creatures in northwest Arkansas. These included, and are pictured below: a small praying mantis; a walking stick insect; a rather large beetle I couldn’t identify; and a timber rattlesnake. The rattlesnake (located in the middle of the photo) was spotted by a fellow hiker on the Lost Valley Trail. It was rather close to the trail and was fortunately, moving away from it!
Buffalo National River is one of those national areas that you hardly ever hear about. The park is filled mostly with locals/Arkansans and doesn’t get the coverage like the other big parks do (most likely to the delight of the locals!).
Buffalo National River rather surprised me with its beauty and its tranquility. I had no idea northwest Arkansas is so scenic and hilly, which is due to the Ozark Mountains. An added plus was that it was a great place to visit during Covid-19, as attendance was minimal during the week and there were plenty of open places to explore.
Have you seen Buffalo National River? It’s definitely a great spot for a midwestern vacation!
sources: wikipedia.org, nps.org