Beaver Lake & the White River

Eureka Springs, Arkansas – June, 2016 A couple of our friends wanted to dive a local lake. I’m not a huge fan of lake diving so it’s got to be pretty near perfect conditions for me to agree. We picked a beautiful weekend and the clearest lake in our vicinity and made it happen.

Here is the Beaver Dam with Beaver Lake behind it. The arrow shows where we dove. Beaver Lake generally has the best visibility of any of the local lakes.

On this trip the vis averaged 15-20 feet. We chose to dive on a Friday and arrived at the site around 8 am. Luckily we had it entirely to ourselves for a couple hours.

The site which I believe is called Dam Site North Bluffs Park had many items purposefully sunk by local divers. There was a large houseboat, a jet ski, and an airplane fuselage among other things. Our favorite was a VW Beatle.

I know that is a horrible pic but it is a fairly good representation of what things look like in the lake. We were able to find most of the items that were there and then we returned along the shore and stopped to feed hot dogs to the fishies. Here is our dive buddy, Danielle, with one of the many fish friends she made.

I was enjoying the fish immensely until one of the perch mistook my ear for a piece of dog. I didn’t realize they had teeth! We did see several really big fish but none of the larger ones stopped for a snack.

This is one of the two best lake dives I’ve ever experienced. The other was also in Beaver Lake where they have sunk a school bus and placed mannequins in and around it. The bus is only accessible by boat though. If you want to dive any of these places C&J Sports will turn you on to all the details.

More friends joined us on Friday night and we planned a float for Saturday morning. The White River flows from the Beaver Dam when the Corp of Engineers chooses to release it. There is no current to speak of when they are not releasing water.

We put in just below the dam. All of the following pictures were taken by our friend Amy who had the foresight to bring a phone. Here’s a pic she took of us at the put in with fly fisherman wading behind us.

The water is incredibly cold because it is released from the bottom of the lake. It actually hurts to wade in it. But on a hot June morning floating through the mist created by that cold stream was like having outdoor air conditioning.

We planned a short 2 mile float since there would be no current. They were scheduled to release water that afternoon but we had no intention of floating past lunch. Being on a river too cold to comfortably swim in on a 100 degree day was not our idea of fun.

So we slowly paddled the two miles in a couple hours. There were plenty of places to stop. The rocks at one stop looked like they had been purposefully placed there.

We saw lots more fisherman but only saw one fish caught all day. Jim didn’t have any luck at all and soon quit and just enjoyed the view. The scenery all along the float was breathtaking.

The water was crystal clear as well. So the scenery under the surface was equally intriguing.

In the afternoons we stayed cool by hanging out in the lake. Our favorite spot is the gravel bar on the island where the Dam Site Lake Campground is located. Since only campers are supposed to use it, it is never crowded.

We weren’t able to get a campsite on the island this particular weekend so we were staying at the Dam Site River Campground in the Parker Bottoms loop. This gave us access to the gravel bar on the island however.

Even though this campground wasn’t our first choice, it turned out it probably was the best alternative for us. Did I mention it was HOT? The lake campground has little shade and we likely would have baked. All the sites at the river campground were under a canopy of very tall trees. The electric only sites were just $20 per night.

The river ran beside the campground but there was no reasonable access to the river from it. But a short ways down the road past the campground was a beautiful access where you could fish, enjoy the cool breezes off the chilly water, or even dip your toes in if you were feeling really brave.

Buffalo National River

Yellville, Arkansas – July, 2015 We love the Buffalo National River and jumped at the chance to plan a weekend there with our friends while we were home. It is about 2 hours south of our hometown of Springfield, Missouri so we have visited often throughout the years. We generally would do at least one campout there every year and we often drove down for the day to hike or float the area. There are over 120 miles of federally protected waters, so even after all these years of exploring I still don’t consider myself familiar with the river.

Our friends wanted to stay at a national park campground called Buffalo Point which is on the lower section of the river. It is an extremely nice campground with water and electric sites for $22 per night. It is well maintained and well managed. There are 5 loops, 3 with reservable sites and 2 that are first come first served. We didn’t make the decision to head there for the weekend until it was too late to make a reservation. But we hoped that by getting there Thursday afternoon we had a good chance of snagging walkup sites for ourselves and another couple with a camper. We arrived at 4:30 and discovered there were only a few sites in each of the non reservable loops that were large enough for our campers and they were all filled for the night. We were lucky enough to find one reservable site in the D loop that hadn’t been reserved for the weekend and since the reservation window had closed we knew we could stay there for three days.

Friday morning we scoped out the possibility of anyone leaving a walkup site that day that was large enough for our friends’ camper. We walked around checking tags and talking to people to see if anyone was leaving. Almost everyone was staying put. We discovered only one site that would accommodate a trailer and the tag said the person in it had only paid for one night. That didn’t mean much since we had only paid for one night but very much hoped to stay for more. The people on the site were in a tent and they hadn’t emerged yet.

It was still early so we headed to town for groceries and to check out an alternate campground. We intended to move if we couldn’t procure a 2nd site. We weren’t very impressed with the alternate campground but it would have worked. We came back intending to offer the occupants money to move to one of the other available tent sites. I was so grateful they were outside when we got back so we could at least get it over with and know if we needed to move or not. I asked the young lady if they were leaving that day and when she said yes I was so relieved I almost hugged her. I explained our predicament and asked if we could put some chairs on the site and a tag on it showing we had paid for it and she was kind enough to agree.

There is absolutely no cell service in Buffalo Point Campground and some of our friends were already on their way down and were waiting for us to tell them where they were going. I had gotten a signal earlier while walking on a gravel bar by the river below camp. So I walked down there again to text everyone our location. Earlier I had gotten 2 bars and 4G but now I could only get 1 bar and E. It got better the closer I got to the river. I finally took my shoes off and walked 15 feet in to the water and got enough service to get texts out to everyone.

One couple arrived at noon and were ready to go kayaking. They had already scoped out the available shuttles. We loaded the boats and were on the water within the hour. We put in at the nearby Highway 14 Bridge and an outfitter moved their vehicle to the takeout at Rush Landing for $28.

It was an awesome float, about 8 miles. There was very little other traffic on a Thursday afternoon. The water was clear and refreshing but not as cold as many of the spring fed rivers we usually float in Missouri. It was blistering hot and we didn’t stay on our boats for very long at a time. I believe this rock is what is called Buffalo Point.  I would have called it turtle point but no one asked me.

The other couple with the trailer showed up after dinner and we got them set up in the dark and another friend showed up and set up a tent outside our trailer. The next morning we were raring to get on the river. Some more friends drove down to float with us for the day and getting 9 people and boats and coolers and lunches together was like herding cats. We chose to float 10.5 miles from South Maumee to the bridge we had put in at the day before. We stopped at Dirst Outfitters and they quickly arranged to shuttle two trucks for us for a very reasonable $25 each. We finally got to the put in and on the water about noon.

This was another awesome day on the water. The Buffalo River is just gorgeous with lots of beautiful bluffs and tons of great gravel bars. There is no development allowed on it at all; no commercial campgrounds, no houses, no stores. Since this float was on a Saturday it was rather busy but occasionally it is fun to float around the crowds and interact with the nuts. If you have not floated the Buffalo before I would highly recommend putting it on your bucket list. We hope to float its entire length one summer in the future.

We got back to a crockpot full of brisket and had some amazing sandwiches. Everyone was worn out and retired rather early. The next morning they started scattering. Since the site we were in was reserved that night we knew we had to move by noon. I thought this would avoid any discussion about whether to stay or go. But I was wrong!

Jim realized the site next to us was available and begged to move into it for the night with the retired man’s version of “just 5 more minutes mom”. Instead it’s “just one more night, pleeeaaassse”. I wasn’t hard to convince so we have a new record for shortest move in our record book. We had to pack everything up and secure it for a move of 20 feet from site 64 to site 65. Here is a pick of our site for the weekend on the right and us set up in the new site to the left for the night.