If you have never seen the Buffalo River and the country around it, you have missed something.  Now might be the best time to go, because the fall colors will be at their best over the next three weeks.  The river is spectacular, and it isn’t crowded at all in October.  There is some fairly good fishing now, because the river has lots of smallmouth bass. 

If you have never seen the Buffalo River and the country around it, you have missed something.  Now might be the best time to go, because the fall colors will be at their best over the next three weeks.  The river is spectacular, and it isn’t crowded at all in October.  There is some fairly good fishing now, because the river has lots of smallmouth bass.  

To the southeast of the Buffalo River is a large tract of National Forestland, spectacular in beauty and wildness.

In 1971, a year before the Buffalo River was turned over to the National Park Service; I was just out of college, and a very young Chief Naturalist for Arkansas State Parks.  Their best park was on the Buffalo River just 14 miles south of Yellville, a place known today as Buffalo Point.  That spring, I had about a dozen newly-hired college student-seasonal naturalists meeting at Buffalo River and we got an invitation to go visit a big cave over to the east of the park.  It was northwest of Mt. View, Arkansas in a Forest Service recreation area.  

They were just starting to develop it, known as Blanchard Springs Caverns.  

We toured it with headlamps, seeing the very beginning of developed trails through huge rooms of spectacular formations.  A year or so later they found a skeleton of a prehistoric man determined to have fallen and died there 800 years before, only a few yards from where we were.  But that day we experienced what is now the Blanchard Springs Caverns, and if you haven’t seen the caverns and surrounding area, spend a day there when you visit Buffalo River Country.  There are a couple of tours through the caverns, they aren’t expensive, and you won’t believe your eyes when you see the inside of that huge cave with all the different formations. The huge roaring cold springs which flow from the caverns from beneath a high rock bluff have been an attraction for decades, and the Civilian Conservation Corps did some fantastic work there on walls, walkways and bridges back in the 1930’s.  A dam they built below the springs backs up a small lake just above an old mill, and Val Davenport Matty tells me her parents go there often and catch trout which are stocked there.  They say the fishing is great.

Val was there that day in 1971 when all those state park naturalists met for breakfast before taking a bus to Blanchard Springs.  She was a 16-year-old waitress for her mother, who operated the park restaurant.  I spent a couple of hours talking to her the other evening, at her home just outside the park. Val loves the area, and knows it all as well as anyone, since she grew up there.

If you go to see the Buffalo, or Blanchard Springs, go see Val.  She owns and rents log cabins with fireplaces there only a short distance from the Buffalo River, a great place to spend the night and feel like you are a part of the river the way it was a hundred years or more ago.   

She can also help you get a canoe to float the river, and have someone pick you up at the end of the day.  And she can tell you special places to see that you might otherwise miss. Her phone number is 870-404-4987.  Tell her an old naturalist sent you.

See my website,  www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com or write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613.  The e-mail address is lightninridge@windstream.net.