Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Buffalo River Ride

ROUTE MAP >  http://goo.gl/maps/9BhHaZXGH9o
RIDE TIME: 4 Hours
HIGHLIGHTS: Kingston, Ponca, Jasper, Buffalo River, Arkansas Grand Canyon, Glory Hole Falls, Terra Studios


The ride itself is going to take you about 4 hours, of course you will want to allow for many stops as you'll be traversing past some of the states most incredible views and natural wonders.

You'll head out HWY 412 going east, just before your turn at HWY 21 you'll come upon Kings River Country Store, a good place to grab some drinks, snacks or gas.  They also have an outstanding kitchen, but you are going to have to weigh out your options here because you may want to wait for your meal until you reach Jasper.

Elk along HWY 43 before Ponca
Once you reach the HWY 21 junction, you'll then head south along a piece of highway as pretty as you'll ever hope to see.  You'll meander through the quaint town of Kingston until you meet HWY 43, where you'll then want to head north.  Once you get on 43, you're going to want to scan the fields along the bluff wall to the right for elk, as they are often seen along here.

The earlier you can get here the better, as the elk are most frequently seen early in the morning, and again near dusk.  To the left on this hwy, you will also come up on Boxley Valley where you can see the Villines cabin, built in 1850.  There's a historic marker there with detailed information about the structure, if you're a history buff you'll enjoy the read.

Boxley Valley
Continue along to the low water bridge just before Ponca, a perfect spot to pull over, kick off your boots and soak your dogs in the cool waters of the Buffalo River.  From there, if you decide to head on in to Ponca you will find the Buffalo Outdoor Center and Ponca Elk Education Center.
Ozark Cafe, Jasper, Arkansas
Ease on back to HWY 74 and head east toward Jasper.  The first part of this highway is quite incredible, you'll ride along sharp switchbacks, steep canyon drop offs on one side and tall rock bluffs on the other, not to mention the AMAZING views of the valley below.  You'll pass Steele Creek Campground, which is a great place to picnic or even camp, but the trip down the mountain into camp is intensely steep while the road itself is gravel, so not really an ideal option for motorcycles.  Drive on by to Jasper!
Glory Hole Falls

Once you reach Jasper, find the Ozark Cafe and enjoy a wonderful meal, just about everything they make is recommendable, and the service and atmosphere are great.  Established in 1909, the cafe is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is acclaimed as the second oldest restaurant in the state.

After lunch, you'll head south on HWY 7.  A few miles out of Jasper you
Arkansas Grand Canyon
will have a great opportunity to stop at Scenic Point aka Arkansas Grand Canyon.  You'll want a photo, it's compulsory.  Your motorcycle, your sweetheart, your sweetheart and your motorcycle... it's just what we do when we are overwhelmed by such an inspiring view.  Give in, do it.

Back on the road, your'll continue south on HWY 7 into the Ozark National Forest. Basically, you'll follow this route all the way back to Dickson Street, which is essentially HWY 16 once you veer off HWY 7. You'll be passing by Glory Hole Falls, and if you have the ambition and proper walking shoes to make the one mile hike from the trailhead to the falls, you'll have an opportunity to see this world famous spectacle of nature, a hot spot among photographers.

Terra Studios, Elkins, Arkansas
As you continue along toward Fayetteville, you'll come upon yet another worthy stop. Terra Studios is just a few miles south of Elkins and is located just off the road.  If you happen to enjoy incredible pottery and stone art, you'll love this as a stop-by.  A quick tour of the grounds is quite enjoyable with the many whimsical statues, gnomes, trolls and other magical forest creatures displayed on the imaginative grounds of the studio.  The tours are free.

Ride Map

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