Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Local Flavors by Joe: Buffalo's Mule Barn

By Joe Giles
Bikes Blues and BBQ Executive Director

Every year, thousands of riders come to Northwest Arkansas looking for the best that the Ozarks have to offer. One of the best ways to find the good rides, as well as the cool places is to check out the official rally guide. BUT, the locals (in this case, me) have their favorites that often are easy to miss. Heck, we’ve got hundreds of miles of great roads, dozens of great restaurants and bars, and a ton of just cool places to see. So, these are some of the roads and places that I really like. Some of these are associated with the rally in one way or another, but that’s not why they were chosen. They are on the list because they are some of my favorites.

Buffalo's Mule Barn
If you are coming in from the south, try out Hwy 10 in Oklahoma. The section I love runs from Tahlequah north to “Little Kansas”. It tracks parallel with the Illinois River through a 25 mile route featuring both river views and overhanging bluffs. On the northern end of the road, just south of “Little Kansas” you’ll round a curve and see the gravel parking lot of a locally legendary bar, Buffalo’s Mule Barn. Walk inside and you are in the sort of place that the American Pickers would find irresistible. To say Buffalo is one of the most interesting bar owners in the world would be a ridiculous understatement. But be warned; don’t offer to pet her Coatimundi. The beast is a little particular concerning who touches it.

When you leave the Mule Barn, head back south to Skelley School Road (Chewy). The first half of Skelley School Road is like riding through a tree lined cave. And then, there’s the bridge. You’ll recognize it immediately. You can park by the entrance or take the gravel road down under the bridge. It makes a very good stop.

Leave there and ride east until you “T” into OK Hwy 59. After that, going south takes you to Westville and Hwy 62 to Fayetteville, or going north takes you to Siloam Springs and Hwy 412 to Springdale.

The Hogeye Mall
Another favorite ride? Sure. From the Baum Stadium venue, just go south on Razorback Road and stay on it (it becomes AR 265). When you get to the bustling metropolis of Hogeye, the road comes to a T. Turn right and go a couple hundred feet and then left at the “famous Hogeye Mall” which bears a striking resemblance to a weathered convenience store.

After that, follow the road (it’s still 265) until it intersects with AR 170. Turn right on 170 and head to Devil’s Den State Park. Stop there and check out the dam or just continue on the road for a lengthy stretch of hairpin curves that will truly test your skills. In a few miles, you’ll come to the town of Winslow (home of the Winslow Squirrels, no kidding) and
U.S. 71, a great ride in itself.

Devils Den State Park
North to Fayetteville, or south to Alma. Your choice. Finally, for the best rides in the area, I heartily recommend you pick up a copy of the BBB Official Rally Guide or purchase a Butler Map of the Ozarks. The rally guide (free, by the way) contains various suggested routes, hints about local attractions, and a lot of information you’ll find extremely valuable. The Butler map is a color-coded waterproof tool outlining roads based on riding quality. Check out blog again in a week or so. I’m going to take you to the Dead Pecker Inn just because I love the name, and then to K.J.’s Caribe Restaurant for some of the most amazing food you’ll ever have.