Taking you outdoors in the Ozark Mountains.
Discover the fun and challenge of exploring the picturesque Ozark Mountains, where nature’s beauty and adventure await. For your convenience, we have prepared a list of outdoor experiences to do when visiting the Ozarks:

1. Hike the Lost Valley Trail
You will feel alive exploring the ancient bluffs, waterfalls and babbling brooks of the Lost Valley Trail in Arkansas. This captivating outdoor adventure, often surrounded by dense foliage, will lead you through stunning natural beauty.

Trail overview and details you need to know:
Location: The Lost Valley Trail is located near Ponca, Arkansas.
Length: It’s an out-and-back trail covering approximately 2.3 miles.
Difficulty: Generally considered moderately challenging.
Scenic Highlights: Along the way, you’ll encounter blue pools, waterfalls, and fascinating caves and rock formations.
End Destination: The trail leads along Clark Creek, past several natural bridges, and ultimately takes you to the captivating Eden Falls and Cobb Cave.
Trail Experience:
The relatively short length of the trail allows you plenty of time for exploring the caves and enjoying the unique rock formations.
The trail surface varies from crushed rock to natural surfaces.
Be prepared for some creek crossings—sometimes you’ll need to walk in the water.
The most scenic area of the trail is more demanding but definitely worth the effort.
Photography Opportunities:
Capture the beauty of the Natural Bridge, a 50-foot-long tunnel made of worn-away limestone.
Don’t miss Eden Falls, which cascades over 50 feet into Clark Creek.
Accessibility Notes:
The trail has good views of the Buffalo River from the bluffs.
While it may seem easy initially, there are some difficult and steep sections, especially past 1 mile out.
Accessible spaces are available in the parking lot, and the trail surface accommodates various mobility needs.
So, put on your hiking boots and go on an adventure exploring the Lost Valley Trail. Immerse yourself in Arkansas’ natural wonders!
2. Float the Buffalo National River
Adventure seekers love the experience of floating on the Buffalo National River. Cool crystal-clear waters make for an unforgettable fun outing. The park reveals glimpses of wildlife and historic treasures. Floating the Buffalo National River is an exhilarating adventure that allows you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Arkansas.

Buffalo Outdoor Center and helpful hints to help you plan your float:
Location: The Buffalo Outdoor Center offers canoeing and kayaking experiences on the Upper Buffalo National River—arguably the finest paddling experience in the state.
Scenic Backdrop: When you embark on a float trip here, you’ll be surrounded by the most amazing scenery Arkansas has to offer.
Launch Sites: The launch site varies based on water levels, but popular options include:
Steel Creek to Kyle’s Landing (8 miles): When River conditions are low in Ponca, the launch shifts to Steel Creek. This section offers stunning views.
Ponca to Kyle’s Landing (10.7 miles): This is the most popular Buffalo National River canoe trip, known for its scenic beauty.
Ponca to Pruitt (23.9 miles): A longer trip featuring majestic bluffs, Hemmed-In Hollow waterfall, and historic Erbie area.
Ponca to Woolum (50.3 miles): Ideal for a long weekend or extended river adventure.
Pruitt to Hasty (6.8 miles): Another beautiful section with impressive bluffs.
Pruitt to Mt. Hersey (17.8 miles): Explore this stretch when water levels are lower.
Ponca to Buffalo City (125.4 miles): A multi-day journey for the adventurous souls.
Important Information:
River Levels: Check the daily launch site on the Buffalo River Level web page. You can also call 870-861-5514 for the day’s launch site.
Safety First: Maintain a safe distance from wildlife and follow safety guidelines.
Reservations: Reserve your canoe or kayak in advance to secure your spot.
Experience the Best:
Camping: Consider camping along the river for an immersive experience.
Guided Tours: Buffalo Outdoor Center also offers guided scenic river tours and fishing trips.
Grab your paddle, soak in the natural beauty, and float down the Buffalo National River—it’s an adventure you won’t forget! 
3. Marvel at Whitaker Point
At Whitaker Point, you will feel as though you are standing on the edge of the world. The outstretched rugged bluffs paint captivating views and fiery sunsets.

Whitaker Point, also known as Hawksbill Crag, is an Arkansas treasure nestled deep within the Ozark National Forest. Thousands of hikers traverse the Whitaker Point Trail every year to reach this beautiful rocky viewpoint.

Trail details things you need to know:
Length: The trail is approximately 2.7 miles (out and back).
Difficulty: Generally considered a moderately challenging route.
Trailhead: You’ll find a parking area at the trailhead off County Road 5. Warm weekend days may lead to parking along the road.
Hike Experience: The forested trail takes about 2 hours, eventually opening to reveal the crag—a rock formation that juts out from the bluff’s face, resembling a hawk’s beak.
Viewpoint: From the crag, you’ll gaze upon Whitaker Creek and a vast valley stretching as far as the eye can see.
Waterfalls: If there has been rain recently, you might encounter several small waterfalls along the way.
Heights: The last portion of the trail may be a little scary for those afraid of heights, but there’s a buffer.
Photography Opportunities:
The Hawksbill Crag is one of Arkansas’ most-photographed spots. Its dramatic views and unique rock formation make it an absolute gem for photographers.
The road to access the trail is a bit rough and bumpy, but the spectacular views are well worth the journey.
So, venture forth, hike the Whitaker Point Trail, and marvel at the breathtaking beauty of Hawksbill Crag!
4. Climb Hawksbill Crag
Enjoy the breathtaking views and challenges of hiking Hawksbill Crag. Experience magical forests, lakes, and rolling hills. Hawksbill Crag, also known as Whitaker Point, is a stunning rock formation nestled within the Ozark National Forest in Arkansas. It’s one of the most photographed and recognizable features in the state.

Location: The crag is situated along the northern edge of the Upper Buffalo Wilderness, just south of the Buffalo National River.
Description: Imagine a rocky viewpoint that juts out from the bluff’s face, resembling a hawk’s beak. From this vantage point, you’ll gaze upon Whitaker Creek and a vast valley stretching as far as the eye can see.
Trail: To reach the Hawksbill Crag, take the Whitaker Point Trail. It’s a moderately challenging 2.7-mile out-and-back trail near Pettigrew, Arkansas. The hike through the forest eventually opens up to reveal this breathtaking vista.
Views: If you visit after recent rain, you might encounter several small waterfalls along the way. The crag itself offers outstanding photo opportunities.
Trailhead Access: The trailhead is off County Road 5, and while there’s a parking area, warm weekends may lead to parking along the road. The last portion of the trail may be a little scary for those afraid of heights, but there’s a buffer.
Road Conditions: Be prepared for a rough and bumpy road to access the trail. It’s mostly a dirt road with rocks and gravel, so take it slow.
5. Canoe the Current River
Enjoy the beauty of the Ozark Mountains when paddling the Current River. Often you will catch glimpses of wild horses grazing along the banks while floating. Floating the Current River in Missouri is an exhilarating experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the region while enjoying the thrill of following in the path of pioneers as you explore the river that whispers.
Here’s what you need to know:
Current River Overview:
The Current River winds through the southern part of Missouri, stretching for 184 miles and even crossing into the northern part of Arkansas.
The section near Eminence, Missouri, where the Current River and Jacks Fork River converge, is particularly popular for float trips.
This entire area is protected by the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, declared so by Congress in 1964 to preserve its pristine beauty1.
Best Time for Float Trips:
Mid-May until early September is ideal for float trips.
June, July, and August are the busiest months.
For a quieter experience, consider going in June or September when the crowds are thinner1.
Ways to Float on the Current River:
Tube: For a leisurely, lazy river-style experience, rent a tube or bring your own and drift along at a relaxing pace.
Canoe or Kayak: If you want a bit more action, rent a canoe or kayak and add some adventure to your trip.
Raft: Rafts are another option for group outings.
Equipment Rental: Depending on your preference, you can choose from these options.
Top Recommendations:
Best Place to Stay: Consider a secluded cabin with prime riverfront access and a swimming hole.
Best Section to Float: The Akers to Pulltite section offers gorgeous views.
Best Place to Camp: Pulltite Campground, right on the river, has 55 sites.
Best Outfitter: Current River Canoe Rental, located at Pulltite Campground, provides excellent service.
When floating the Current River, you are certain to enjoy crystal-clear waters, cascading bluffs, and wildlife! Always remember to check water levels ahead of time.
6. Explore Waterfalls in Newton County
Explore waterfalls—Hemmed-In Hollow Falls, Glory Hole Falls, and Eden Falls. Each cascade holds its own magic. Newton County, nestled in the heart of Arkansas, is a waterfall wonderland. With over 100 falls (and that count doesn’t even include the unnamed ones), this region beckons nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. Explore some of the most captivating waterfalls in this picturesque county.

Paradise Falls:
Located in Deer, AR 72628, USA, Paradise Falls stands at a lovely 32 feet. Before reaching this gem, you’ll encounter several smaller waterfalls in the vicinity. Coordinates:
Eden Falls:
Just as fitting as its name, Eden Falls epitomizes the beauty of the area. You’ll discover it during your hike around the Lost Valley Recreation Area. Find your way using this map.
Glory Hole Falls:
This iconic waterfall is one of the most unique in the state. Unlike most falls that flow over rocks, Glory Hole actually passes through an opening in the rock. The hike is short but uphill on the way back. Directions:
Triple Falls:
Also known as Twin Falls (depending on recent rains), Triple Falls is an easy-to-reach waterfall. It’s part of the popular Boy Scout camp, Camp Orr, and a quick 0.3-mile jaunt from the parking lot. Map:
Hemmed-In Hollow Falls:
As the tallest waterfall between the Rockies and the Appalachians, Hemmed-In Hollow Falls is a sight to behold. The 6-mile trail includes a steep 2.5-mile climb out, but the effort is rewarded by the majestic 209-foot cascade. Directions:
Chumfarger Falls:
Not far from Paradise Falls, Chumfarger Falls shares its neighborhood with the equally whimsically named Hargfarger Falls. Explore the area using these coordinates.
Paige Falls:
Paige Falls, located in Broadwater Hollow near Harrison, AR, is a gorgeous waterfall that’s super easy to reach. It’s just a 0.3-mile walk from the road, and though modest at 8 feet, it pours into a stunning blue pool.
Whether you enjoy chasing waterfalls or simply seeking natural beauty, Newton County’s waterfalls await your discovery!
7. Witness Elk Rutting Season
When Autumn arrives, the Ozarks vibrate with primal energy. Watching bull elk bugling and clashing antlers in the misty dawn is quite the unforgettable experience. These sounds echo across valleys, creating a symphony for the wilderness.

Elk rutting season is a captivating time to observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
Here’s what you need to know about this exciting period:
When: Elk rutting season typically occurs from late September through mid-November.
What Is Rutting?: During this time, male elk (bulls) engage in intense mating behavior. They become more active, vocal, and territorial as they compete for the attention of female elk (cows).
Bull Elk Behavior:
Bugling: One of the most iconic sights and sounds during rutting season is the bull elk’s bugle. This haunting call echoes through the forests as bulls establish dominance and attract mates.
Antler Clashes: Bulls engage in fierce antler battles to establish hierarchy. These clashes can be both thrilling and awe-inspiring to witness.
Chasing and Courting: Bulls chase after receptive cows, displaying impressive agility despite their massive size.
Cow Elk Behavior:
Choosing Mates: Female elk assess the bulls’ displays, bugles, and physical condition before selecting a mate.
Calves: Calves born during the spring are still with their mothers, but they remain hidden to avoid attracting attention from predators.
Where to Witness Elk Rutting:
Boxley Valley, Arkansas: This area, near Ponca and Jasper, is renowned for its elk population. The rolling hills and lush valleys provide an ideal backdrop for observing rutting behavior.
1. Upper Buffalo River Area: Visitors can witness the entire life cycle of elk here, from calving in the spring to the exciting rutting season in the fall.
2. Remember:
Safety First: While observing elk, maintain a safe distance. Use binoculars or a telephoto lens to get a closer look without disturbing them.
Quiet and Respectful: Elk are sensitive to human presence. Keep noise levels low and respect their space.
Time of Day: Early mornings and late afternoons are prime times for elk activity.
Permits and Regulations:
Private Land Hunts: In the Core Elk Management Zone (Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton, and Searcy counties), there are specific hunting seasons and quotas for both private and public land hunts.
3. Incidental Sightings: Outside the Core Elk Management Zone, hunters legally deer hunting may incidentally take an elk they see while deer hunting.
4. Venture into the wilderness during elk rutting season, and witness the primal dance of nature! 
8. Camp at Devil’s Den State Park
Pitch your tent under a star-studded sky at Devil’s Den State Park Listen to coyotes sing and the crackle of the campfire and feel connected to the land.

Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas offers a delightful camping experience surrounded by natural beauty.
Park overview and what you need to know:
Location: Devil’s Den State Park is a 2,500-acre gem nestled in the Lee Creek Valley within the Boston Mountains (part of the Ozarks).
CCC Legacy: Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s, the park features rustic-style wood and stone structures that blend seamlessly with the surroundings.
Rock Formations and Caverns: Explore unique rock formations and caverns as you wander through the park.
Lake Devil: The impressive rock dam spans Lee Creek, creating Lake Devil, an 8-acre lake perfect for fishing and boating (canoes and pedal boats available for rent).
Camping Options:
Cabins: Devil’s Den offers 17 cabins with kitchens, fireplaces, and modern amenities. Some are even dog-friendly!
Studio Cabins: #16, 17
One Bedroom Cabins: #1, 2, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18
Two Bedroom Cabins: #3, 4, 5, 10
Three Bedroom Cabins: #7, 8, 11, 14
Camper Cabins: For a closer-to-nature experience, consider the camper cabins, which sleep up to 4 people.
Campsites: Choose from a variety of campsites:
44 Class AAA sites (with hookups)
24 Class D sites (no hookups)
Eight hike-in sites (tent only)
42 sites with hookups in the horse camp (includes a bathhouse and access to horse trails).
Other Amenities:
Pool: The pool is open during the summer months.
Group Facilities: Enjoy the standard pavilion, store, and meeting room.
Activities: Join Park interpreters for hikes, programs, and special events year-round. Don’t miss the Ozark Mountain Bike Festival in spring!
Cabins: Reserve your cozy cabin or camper cabin in advance.
Campsites: Choose your preferred campsite based on your needs.
Whether you’re camping, hiking, or simply soaking in the natural beauty, Devil’s Den State Park promises an unforgettable outdoor experience!
9. Photograph the Glory of Fall Foliage
Fall foliage in the Ozarks is a mesmerizing canvas of warm hues, and capturing its beauty through photography is a delightful endeavor.
Here are some tips to help you create stunning fall foliage photos in this picturesque region:
Golden Hours:
Timing: Plan your photography outings during the golden hours—early morning or late afternoon. The warm, soft light during these times enhances the colors and adds a magical touch to your images.
Tripod: When shooting in lower light, use a tripod to stabilize your camera. This prevents camera shake and allows you to capture sharp, detailed shots.
Overcast Days:
Diffused Light: On overcast days, the clouds act as a natural lightbox, diffusing and scattering light evenly. This soft, diffused light minimizes harsh shadows and highlights, making your fall foliage photos more pleasing.
Avoid Midday Sun: Shooting in the middle of the day can result in washed-out colors due to the bright sunlight. Opt for overcast conditions whenever possible.
Post-Rain Brilliance:
After a rain, the leaves glisten with moisture, intensifying their colors. Capture the shiny, reflective surfaces for vivid fall foliage photos.
Vary Your Shots:
Close-Ups: Don’t limit yourself to wide views. Get up close and personal with individual leaves, both on trees and those that have fallen. Use fallen leaves to frame your shots creatively.
Change Perspectives: Experiment with different angles and viewpoints. Try shooting from above (using a drone) or from ground level, aiming up at the trees to capture colors from underneath.
Intensifier Filters:
To enhance colors, consider using an intensifier filter. It intensifies reds, oranges, and yellows, making your fall foliage pop.
Drone Photography:
Unique Perspective: Use a drone to capture fall foliage from above. Seeing the trees from this vantage point sets your photos apart and reveals patterns and colors not visible from the ground.
Creativity and Fun:
Experiment: Be creative! Try different framing, compositions, and angles.
Enjoy the Process: Fall foliage photography is not just about the end result—it’s about immersing yourself in nature’s beauty and enjoying the process.
Remember, the Ozarks offer a rich tapestry of colors during fall, so explore, compose, and create your own masterpiece! 
Autumn leaves blazed—maples, oaks, and hickories—a fiery tapestry.

10. Marvel at Alum Cove Natural Bridge
Let’s marvel at the Alum Cove Natural Bridge, a captivating geological wonder nestled within the Ozark National Forest in Newton County, Arkansas.
Trail Overview and waht you need to know about this enchanting spot:
The Alum Cove Natural Bridge Trail is a relatively short 1.2-mile hike that packs a punch in terms of natural features.
Located near Deer, Arkansas, this family-friendly trail offers a delightful mix of waterfalls, a cave, a small stream, and, of course, the Alum Cove Natural Bridge itself.
Getting There:
From Jasper, take Highway 7 and head south.
After approximately 15 miles, turn right (west) onto Hwy 16 toward Deer (look for the faded sign for Alum Cove at the intersection).
Travel about 1 mile on Hwy 16, then turn right onto County Road 28 (another sign indicates Alum Cove).
Continue for 3 miles until you see a large sign for the Alum Cove Natural Bridge Area. Turn right there, and you’ll find a large parking area, picnic spots, a shelter, and a pit toilet.
The Trail:
The semi-loop trail covers 1.2 miles and offers plenty to explore.
The initial spur descends behind the lower picnic area, with an elevation change of about 300 feet.
At the bottom of the hill, you’ll arrive directly at the top of the Alum Cove Natural Bridge.
The bridge is massive, measuring 130 feet long and 25 feet wide. Rails have been added for safety as you walk across.
While the bridge steals the show, don’t miss other gems:
Waterfalls: Enjoy views of a couple of waterfalls.
Cave: Explore the intriguing cave.
Stream: Cross a small stream.
Bluff Line: Admire the overhangs along the bluff line.
Trail Directions:
After viewing the bottom of the bridge, you can continue the semi-loop clockwise.
The trail drops down to the bottom of the hill, where you can choose to continue on the loop or view the bottom of the Natural Bridge.
The area is rich in natural beauty, making it a rewarding hike for all.
So, let’s venture forth and marvel at the Alum Cove Natural Bridge—a testament to the Ozarks’ timeless allure!
11. Attend the Dogwood Festival
Spring arrives and the Dogwood Festival paints the Ozarks in hues of pink and white. Take in the fresh sweet scent of the dogwood's blossoms. The Dogwood Festival in Siloam Springs, Arkansas is a vibrant celebration that draws visitors from near and far.
Here are the details you need to know:
Event: The Dogwood Festival is held annually and features a delightful blend of arts, crafts, live music, and family-friendly activities.
Location: The festival takes place in Historic Downtown Siloam Springs.
Dates for 2024: Mark your calendars for April 26-28, 2024!
Estimated Attendees: Approximately 50,000 people gather to enjoy the festivities.
Vendor-Friendly: Many have praised this festival as the most vendor-friendly around. With over 200 booths, you’ll discover a wide variety of treasures, including arts and crafts, handmade items, and vintage finds.
Live Entertainment: Get ready for toe-tapping tunes and captivating performances.
Foodie Favorites: The food vendors serve up an array of delicious treats, from fried green tomatoes to smoked chicken dinners, caramel apples, and more. Come hungry!
KidZone: The Kenneth Gutierrez KidZone ensures that young and young-at-heart festivalgoers have a blast with rides and activities.
Organizers: The festival is organized by the Siloam Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Volunteer Dogwood Festival Committee, with invaluable contributions from community volunteers.
Friday, April 26, 2024: 9 am - 7:30 pm
Saturday, April 27, 2024: 9 am - 7:30 pm
Sunday, April 28, 2024: 10 am - 5 pm
Applications: Due to overwhelming interest in the 50th Anniversary of the Siloam Springs Dogwood Festival, applications for vendors are now closed for 2024.
Join the celebration of spring, creativity, and the community spirit at the Dogwood Festival! 
12. Fly Fishing on Lake Taneycomo
Lake Taneycomo is a world-class trout fisherman's paradise. 
The Missouri Department of Conservation stocks Taneycomo monthly, totaling over 500,000 fish annually. These fish aren’t small, either. According to the MDC, 87% of rainbow trout in Taneycomo are greater than 13 inches, plenty big enough to put up a great fight and make a meal.
Trophy brown trout are also commonly caught in Taneycomo but are not as abundant because the MDC only stocks 15,000 brown trout yearly. However, brownies grow much larger than rainbows. The current state record weighs over 40 pounds and was caught in Lake Taneycomo. 
Below are a few helpful tips to keep in mind when trout fishing in Lake Taneycomo:
When planning to fish Lake Taneycomo, remember that it runs through Branson Missouri. There are so many other fun things to do in Branson when you're not fishing.
Spinning and fly-fishing rods are mostly used, also it is recommended to wear waders because the average water temperature of Taneycomo is 48 - 52 degrees year around. 
When using baits and lures, you’ll want to read the local regulations, as specific areas are for artificial lures only. Powerbait fishing is allowed below Fall Creek, as well as using artificial lures.
Flies, such as scuds, sow bugs, and soft hackles, are very popular, from Table Rock Dam to Fall Creek, where only artificial lures are allowed. Regulations prohibit soft plastics, natural, and scented baits in this portion of the lake. 
What to use: Super Duper spoons, small spinners, and small shallow-diving crankbaits work well for catching trout on a spinning rod.
Trout spend most of their time in deep holes. You will often see fishing guides that are familiar with Lake Taneycomo spending most of their time fishing in these areas.
While trout fishing at Taneycomo, always look for a current break, such as a log, rock, or river bend, because brown and rainbow trout will use them to rest while waiting on their next meal to drift along.
It’s critical to remember these breaks might be hiding away below the lake’s surface.
In the deep holes, it is recommended to use Powerbait where it’s legal and in the areas where it’s not legal, flies are a very effective lure for the deep, slow-moving pools. Remember, deep is a relative term; sometimes, it means 3-5 feet, and other times it means 6+ feet deep.
Use Super Duper spoons in the lake’s shallow areas, 5 feet or less.
From Table Rock Dam to Fall Creek is where the highest concentration of big trout hangs out, so if you’re looking to catch a trophy-sized fish, this is where you should spend most of your time.
However, if you’re looking to catch some trout for dinner and perhaps fish with bait, head below Fall Creek. This is where the highest numbers of fish are located, with most in the 13-16-inch range.
Trout aren’t the only fish species that call Taneycomo home. Bass are another big draw to the lake. 
Three species of black bass inhabit these waters. Largemouth are the most abundant, but anglers regularly catch spotted and smallmouth bass.
Most of the bass fishing opportunities are below Rockaway Beach on the warmer lower portion of the lake.
Bass are primarily caught during the spring and summer when they’re in Taneycomo’s creek arms and coves. During this time, bass move shallow to spawn and feed heavily after spawning.
In the winter, bass migrate back to the main lake, where they spend most of their time during the colder months.
It’s best to target a specific black bass species to have the highest chance of success. Each species has unique preferences.
Largemouth are the most abundant bass in Taneycomo. They regularly grow up to 5 pounds, which is why this is one of the best largemouth bass lakes in Missouri.
To target largemouth, focus on fishing the shallows near the shore, as they’re better suited for these areas.
Several of the local guide's go-to lures for largemouth are spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jigs, chatterbaits, and soft-plastic rigs like the Texas ig and Wacky rigs.
Because the water that makes up Taneycomo is clear, some guides prefer natural colors like white, silver, translucent, and green pumpkin. Often times using a splash of a bright color like red or chartreuse helps differentiate your lure from all the others the fish see every year. 
So, gear up and set out for an adventure that will last a lifetime!