Hiking, fishing, and photo opportunities abound on the Buffalo River in Arkansas
The Natural State. As a lifelong resident of neighboring Missouri, I’ve traveled to and through dozens of towns in Arkansas. I love the backroads, the rolling hills, and diversity of landscape from one corner of the state to another. Each year the White and Norfork Rivers are a favorite trout fishing location. As much as I’ve enjoyed the times I’ve been to Arkansas, I have to admit I don’t really know the state. When I first joined the Backroads of Arkansas Facebook page, I was shocked by the beauty. However when I began following David Dedman’s page, Arkansas Wanderlust, I was truly taken aback. I decided to contact David to learn more about this Buffalo River watershed and get his insider tips on making the most of a trip to the area.
Tell us about yourself. How did you come to love the Arkansas outdoors and photography? I am David Dedman, an IT professional from South Arkansas with a love for all things outdoors in Arkansas and photography. I was doing a lot of traveling to some cool places with a previous job and realized I was coming away with no photos. So I decided to buy a DSLR in 2013. Photography has consumed me since. I spend all of my free time exploring and photographing the things Arkansas has so much of. I have been many places and feel truly blessed to be in such a great place.
What’s your favorite outdoor pursuit? I really love exploring around the Buffalo River more than anywhere. There is so much up and down the entire river, something for everyone really; paddling, fishing, hiking, waterfall hunting, horseback riding, climbing, whatever you like to do outside. My favorite thing to do is shoot waterfalls and rivers/creeks. I recently became friends with some landowners in Boxley Valley that have many waterfalls on their properties. One of them asked if I would come up and shoot a cave on his property. I have seen many caves in Arkansas, some very impressive. I did not go in prepared for what I saw. It was totally amazing with over 2 miles of tunnels and rooms explored. We spent hours there and did not come close to seeing the entire thing. Absolutely incredible rivaling any cave I have ever visited. I am now a junkie for caves as well!
Where are the better spots on the Buffalo for anglers? I am not a huge fisherman in general but I LOVE to fish for Smallmouth and I love to do it most on Crooked Creek west of Yellville. Even an impatient amateur like me is able to catch many on Crooked Creek! On the Upper Buffalo also, there are LOTS of Smallmouths! But as you get down towards Pruitt and beyond, the Spotted and Largemouth Bass start to dominate. I tend to be less patient on the lower end of the river where there are many more long, very slow moving channels. The upper river is much faster water flowing over and between many more rocks and obstacles.
There are SO many trails in Arkansas and as mentioned, I’m very partial to the trails of the Buffalo River but I am also a huge fan of the Eagle Rock Loop. It’s split up into very doable sections even for the lightest of hikers. It has huge vistas, clear spring fed creeks and rivers everywhere and there are usually very few people in that area. Tons of great things to see around Albert Pike and the Little Missouri River area of the Ouachitas!
Do you have any tips for those looking to make the most of their photos taken around the Buffalo River area? The best photography tip I can give anyone is take photos! Take a camera and take photos! They say the best camera out there is the one you have with you and this is no joke! Take the photos you like and that you want to go back and see and you’ll never go wrong no matter what they are or what level of photographer you are. I sell prints but I only do so as a side project with my photography, meaning I neglect my print site quite a bit. I don’t upload photos to it like I should but I would be happy making any photo you see me share on Instagram available.
If you’re looking to get out and enjoy some hiking, fishing, or try your hand at taking photos of this beautiful landscape, you have plenty of options for places to stay. First of all, camping is low cost and likely the best option for fully experiencing the outdoors. Nearby Mountain Home also has a variety of accommodation options. Some highly rated options include the Holiday Inn, Comfort Inn, and the Super 8 Motel. There are many cabin rental services, one of the pictures here is taken from one cabin’s front porch. There are also many places to stay all up and down the river that are much closer, near Ponca, Jasper, and tons of places to rent very close to the river by Gilbert.
If you prefer to enjoy your time outside and leave the photography to the experts, you can order David’s prints directly off his website Arkansas Wanderlust. Mention this article and David will give you 15% off!
If you want to learn how to take your own beautiful shots of the Buffalo River, David is giving a one-day beginners photo workshop on the river. These sessions meet early in the morning, will make sure you have your cameras set correctly for sunrise and will do this on site at a couple of places. Anyone interested can contact David for details.
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Patrick Ritter is the founder of River King Fishing, LLC. Raised near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, the outdoors, especially fishing, has always been a passion.