By Dustin Jayroe | Photos courtesy of AGFC and the state of Arkansas
Just like that, we are a whole month into a brand new year; one that is already whizzing before our eyes, the days coming and going in a blur. But the silver lining on this quickly transiting horizon is that a moment to slow down and take time for ourselves is fast approaching. Spring break is just around the corner.
Each year, usually in mid- to late-March, most of us observe a week-long time period when all of our children are out of school, from pre-k to college. And while not every parent is able to take the full seven days off alongside their kiddos, many take advantage of the opportunity to stretch a long weekend out of the deal or utilize a couple or more saved up days off to do something special as a family.
A common theme among Arkansans during spring break is to plan a trip — to step outside the state’s borders and see something new — and we are deep in the heart of trip-planning season.
Many will go skiing in Colorado. Others might drive a few hours to theme parks and other tourist attractions in neighboring states. Some might drive a little farther to a gulf coast beach. But, there is plenty to do and plenty of new sights well within the Natural State’s borders. No need for plane tickets or 10-hour treks in a cramped vehicle. Stay home for spring break this year. The Natural State awaits — as it always has, and always will.
Breaking at the Buffalo
A spring break spent at the Buffalo National River offers a multitude of potential activities, some that go well beyond what you might think.
Book the lodging details for the week or just a weekend with options that range from tent camping on the park’s grounds, backcountry camping along the river itself or “glamping” in a cabin or lodge.
While there, Arkansans can partake in hiking with more than 100 miles of trails available to explore. There are several equestrian trails in the area for horseback riding. Also within the wide assortment of activities is fishing, and the Buffalo River provides more than 100 miles of waterway for endless fun for you and yours. And the water might be a little cold this time of year, but a crowd favorite is always floating the Buffalo River in a kayak or canoe.
Just a short drive away from the park sits Ponca, the small community known for its outdoor entertainment. There, visitors can engage in elk watching, as the largest species in the deer family move through the area regularly. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s (AGFC) Elk Education Center is also in Ponca, providing the opportunity to learn more about elk through one of its programs and peruse the interpretive exhibit room with displays that include full-body mounts of elk.
Settle Down in Columbus
Step outside from normalcy for a moment, and visit a place that you truly may have never been. The unincorporated community of Columbus is in southwest Arkansas, just north of Texarkana. It sits to the east of Millwood State Park and Millwood Lake (which the Little River runs through), where a number of camping and lodging options are available.
Outside of the obvious fishing, hiking, boating and birdwatching expeditions that await at the park and waterways is the Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Conservation Education Center. This AGFC commodity is within a sprawling 5,000 acres of land rife with things to do; from on-site programs such as a wildlife adventure, a trap range, fossil exhibits of ancient sea creatures and a guided trail tour, to off-site endeavors like seeing a live alligator. It is something that someone of any age can enjoy. Lodging is also available on the premises by way of two large cabins.
There is also a community worth visiting (to say you did) while in the area called “Okay.” Definitely a bucket list checkmark sort of thing.
Check out www.arkansas.com/columbus or agfc.com for more.
Tackle the Little Red
Take a trip out to Pangburn and go on a fishing adventure on the Little Red River. If you are a little new to the scene, or just want to ensure a worthwhile trip, utilize the guide services of Sore Lip’Em All Guide Service. All along the river lie a number of different camping and lodging options, including the Cabins at Lobo Landing which sit riverside.
After spending a day or two slaying slobs on the Little Red, spend another relaxing in a boat on Greers Ferry Lake, which is just a short drive eastward. Rent a boat from the marina, and sit back and enjoy all that is work-free living (for as long as it lasts).