Half-Day Highlight Reel: Upper District

Photo collage depicting children watching wildlife, a cave and waterfall at Lost Valley, and Roark Bluff over the Buffalo River.
Photo collage depicting children watching wildlife, the Natural Bridge at Lost Valley, Roark Bluff over the Buffalo River, and Eden Falls at Lost Valley.

Top left, top right, bottom right: Terra Fondriest
Bottom left: AR Dept. of Parks & Tourism

Every feature of this Half-Day Highlight Reel is located within a 5-mile radius of Ponca, AR. For most park visitors, everything on this page can be completed within 4 to 5 hours. Click here for a map of Buffalo National River.

Visit Roark Bluff at Steel Creek

Roark Bluff is among the most iconic blufflines on the entire length of the Buffalo River. At 3/4 mile long and more than 200 feet tall, this sheer slab of streaked sandstone towers over the river at Steel Creek Campground. Drive to the tent camping area and park near Site #24. A marked trail leads to the river and the upstream end of the bluff. Walk the gravel bar and take in the sights and sounds or perhaps take a swim in the Rushing Hole at the base of the bluff.

Step Back in Time at Beaver Jim's Homestead

Nestled on a hilltop overlooking the Buffalo River at Ponca is a half-mile loop that circles the historic Beaver Jim Villines homestead. Explore the two-pen log farmhouse, barn, corn crib, root cellar, privy, and other relics of early agricultural life dating as far back as 1854 with additions as recent as the 1940s. Click here for more information about the Beaver Jim Villines Homestead Loop.

Hike the Lost Valley Trail

At approximately 2.5 miles round-trip, the Lost Valley Trail is jam-packed with geological and archeological wonders that will mystify hikers of all ages and abilities. This trail immediately crosses Clark Creek (ABA-accessible pedestrian bridge coming soon) and follows its path upstream into a box canyon. Click here for more information about the Lost Valley Trail. Restrooms, pavilion, and picnic tables available. Pets not permitted on the Lost Valley Trail.

Watch Wildlife in Boxley Valley

With an estimated population of 100 Rocky Mountain elk, Boxley Valley Historic District is known as the Elk Capital of Arkansas. Cruise the 6-mile stretch of Hwy. 43 and 21 between Ponca and Boxley in the fall or winter for a chance to view these majestic creatures from designated viewing areas. Birdwatchers may view bald eagles, osprey, great blue herons, and egrets in the vicinity of the Boxley Mill Pond along Hwy. 43 approximately 1 mile north of the Hwy. 21/43 intersection.


Last updated: January 26, 2020

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Mailing Address:

402 N. Walnut Street
Suite 136

Harrison, AR 72601


870 439-2502

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