We had no idea that Arkansas would be so amazing! I mean you just know what you don’t know and they only way to know it is to explore it. We love Branson and all but man I wish we would have had more time to explore Newton County. It was simply beautiful. An absolute paradise for outdoorsy folk like us. There’s hiking, climbing, biking, swimming, kayaking, scenic driving, horseback riding, caving, fishing, and probably more. Enough to keep a person busy for more than a month and never do the same thing twice.
We ooo’d and aahh’d all the way from Harrison to Jasper where our campground was. Side note, since we had the rig with us we could easily make bathroom stops where ever we wanted. One of my favorite features! We arrived at Dogwood Springs Campground around noon. It was definitely the favorite of the two places we stayed on that trip. The owner is a former “Boulderite” so he won us over from the start. Jeff was full of information about the surrounding area and gave us some great tips on where to hike and explore. We set up and then left to find Twin Falls, a place I had researched and heard many great things about. It did not disappoint. Check out our video HERE.
Twin Falls turned out to be a triple falls due to recent rain which made it even more magical. The road down to it was a steep forest service road – Four Wheel Drive recommended. The drive was longer than the hike to the falls. It was an easy half mile walk to the base of the falls and you could almost hear them from the parking area. Cinder was so happy to explore but wasn’t a fan of her leash. We still need to work on that. After skipping rocks into the teal blue waters the boys convinced John to take them to the top. They thought they were following a path but it turns out there was a way easier way up – oops! The girls, (Chloe, Cinder, and I) stayed at the bottom and waved as they triumphantly conquered the top of the falls. I had no idea the danger they were actually in and I’m totally ok with that. I would have had a panic attack if I were with them. I don’t mind heights when I am strapped into something but looking over the edge of a cliff scares me to death. Watching my kids look over the edge of a cliff makes me want to vomit. I guess there was a lot of moss at the top and the rocks were slick. It would be fine except Aaron was be-boppin around like they were normal rocks and scaring John. There was a single metal cable across the top of the falls which I can only imagine is for a last ditch effort to keep from going over. I’m glad they had a good time and made it back to the car in one piece.
We continued on down to the Buffalo River and enjoyed the scenery. We thought about hiking more but little Chloe was running a fever and not feeling great. We skipped some more rocks and headed back to the campground for some dinner and to get rested up for our climbing day.
The next morning we got up and had a huge breakfast to fuel up for a big day on the rocks at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch. We loaded our gear and Cinder and drove the 15 minutes to the entrance only to find a “no dogs allowed” sign posted. We were so bummed. But not nearly as much as Cinder was. Our “crag dog” lives for hikes and has always done great when we climb. She was sad to stay in the camper all day. Thankfully the weather was great so we left our windows and vents open and she did just fine. HCR is a working dude ranch with lots of animals and is a premier climbing destination in Arkansas. We paid $10 per adult but it was so worth it. There are hundreds of routes for all climbing levels in one concentrated area. Sadly, Chloe didn’t feel well most of the day so she declined climbing and mostly played in the dirt, or in the hammock, or took naps while we took turns on the rock. The routes we got to climb were so much fun! Both boys did great and John and I got a few in too. Filming everything makes it even more exciting as we get to try to think of unique shots and angles. Sadly we had a major mishap with an external hard drive and lost 75% of the footage from the last 2 days of our trip including our climbing day. We were really bummed to discover this as there was some cool footage that we lost. Even so, I think our episode turned out pretty well.
After a full day of climbing we went for yet another drive, this time taking scenic byways in a great big circle around Newton County. It was so pretty and I bet even more so when everything is green. We got back to the campsite after dark and cooked burgers outside followed by roasted marshmallows. I accidently bought cinnamon graham crackers but no one seemed to care. Another good nights rest and we were ready to head back toward Tablerock Lake.
It seemed liked our trip went way too fast. We loaded up and headed to Dogwood Canyon on the southside of Tablerock lake. We had called in advance to make sure there was plenty of parking for us to bring the rig. We got there around lunch time so we ate in the rig in the parking lot before going in. Everyone had a great time biking through the 6 mile loop. It’s 3 miles in and then loops back. There were countless waterfalls and everything was well groomed. In fact, maybe a little too groomed. We later learned that all the waterfalls are man-made and for some reason that kind of took away from it a little bit for us. While still gorgeous it all seemed a little Jurassic Parkish. Especially at then end when got to feed the genetically engineered Golden Trout. Haha! The kids loved it and that’s all that matters. Who cares if the theme song played in our heads as we peddled along. One thing we really thought was cool is the trail passed through the Missouri/Arkansas border so we technically rode in two states in one day. The boys did so great. We had to encourage Ethan a little as his poor little legs get tuckered out faster than the rest of us. The ride back to the car was basically coasting the whole way which really helped. The day went by far to fast. Soon enough we were on the road again.
It was getting dark so we decided to call Cracker Barrel in Springfield to see if they allowed overnight parking, which they do. We boondocked in the parking lot and had a nice breakfast the next morning before heading home. We still had to deal with the tanks though so we made a pit stop in Louisburg at an RV park dump station to dump and rinse before storing our rig until our next trip.
Cost: ~$35/night – We did not have discounts here but felt it reasonably priced
Location: Just outside of Jasper, AR
Amenities: Pool, hot tub, bathrooms, showers, playset, RV AND tent camping, cabins
RV Sites: Nicely shaded, most are not equipped for super long rigs but there are a few pull through
Hookups: Full hook ups – 30 and 50 amp, water, sewer, and cable
Atmosphere: True Camping feel (not fancy), family owned – owners very friendly