Arkansas Wildlife Blog and Gallery
Buffalo National River and NW Arkansas
Photographers visiting the Boxley Valley and Ponca area to shoot the elk will have a lot of time on their hands between elk shoots. After the morning shoot and until the evening shoot, there are plenty of other things to photograph. The following are some other photo destinations.  Email me if you need clarifications or more information (there are many additional destinations, almost too many to choose from).
Boxley Valley Photography Planner
Daybreak until 8 or 9AM, 4-5PM until dark 

This is the normal time frame for prime time shooting for elk, especially during the rut. (In the cold weather a herd usually stays in the fields all day, however).Photographers have a pretty narrow window to get the elk shooting done, perhaps only as little as a half hour or two of prime time. This will vary a lot from day to day. When it is done what next?
Lost Valley Landscapes

Landscapes and Wildflowers
Lost Valley has a great little canyon and interesting attractions. The meadow right at the end of entrance drive has a great old building in it. Often there are whitetail deer in that field. Occasionally there are elk. In Lost Valley the hiking trail skirts the canyon and it is endlessly interesting. In the spring Lost Valley is a must-see wildflower destination. There are always great water and rock pictures. Eden Falls is a popular waterfall, but in my mind the Lost Valley is much more than that, and I personally love the runoffs, and the landscapes along the canyon.
Beaver Joe Villines Cabin & Homestead
(2 sites, 2 cabins, plus other buildings)

Old Buildings
This is actually two different locations, one on each side of the Buffalo River at the north end of the valley. The cabin visible on the west side of 43 was Villine's first home, followed by the homestad that is across the Ponca low water bridge. If you like hand-hewn cabins, these will delight you. They  are lit at different times. The cabin on 43 is front-lit in the morning, the cabin and buildings across the river are lit in the afternoon. One can spend a lot of time shooting these great old cabins.
Buffalo River Landscapes

The Buffalo River is full of rocks and great gin clear water pools. The river is framed in limestone bluffs in many places. You get fantastic mirror effects and cool natural frames. You could spend an entire day on this. A good starting point is the Ponca low water bridge, but really that is only the beginning. Just up Highway 74 heading east is the Steel Creek Campground. Be careful about hiking on wet rocks, they are very slick. Steel Creek would be my second choice to camp, behind Lost Valley.
White-winged Crows

Wildlife -- Birds
Want a tough subject? The elusive white-winged crow is quite rare, and a worthy test for a determined wildlife shooter. Watch to them while stalking river landscapes. They seem to be very water oriented. The Ponca Elk Education Center and the Ponca low water bridge are great destinations frequented by White-winged Crows. Expect these to be a tough get. See my entry on white-winged crows.
Boxley Millpond Swans

Wildlife -- Birds
If they are in the Boxley Mill Pond, the trumpeter swans of the Boxley Mill Pond are fun to shoot. In Boxley Valley these swans are almost as popular as the elk. One can get the old standard mirrored swan shot here.
Bald Eagles

Wildlife -- Birds
Boxley Mill Pond again (most often). I have seen as many as three bald eagles at once along the mill pond and the steam feeding it. This stream extends into one of the best elk shooting destinations, the intersection of highways 43 & 21. It is possible you might see both during the eagle season.
Miscellaneous Birds

Wildlife -- Birds (buffalo river bird list)
258 species of birds have been observed in the Buffalo National River park.  If you like to shoot birds this is a great destination. These vary according to season. Mary Ann Hicks at the Ponca Elk Education Center is a bird watcher and could provide more information. 
McFerrin Point

Half-Day Trip -- Short hike, vistas
This is about 2 miles from my home further down Old Erbie Road. McFerrin Point is one of the most dramatic views in the Buffalo National River park. It juts out at the top of the canyon level, about 1000 feet above the river level. During fall color this is truly spectacular. It is an easy hike, under a mile. If you are into rough camping this might be your dream spot. Nice rock formations, great views.
Hideout Hollow (Schermerhorn) Trailhead

Half-Day Trip -- Short hike, woodland trail and waterfalls in season.
This is on the same road as McFerrin Point. At the end of the trail is a small runoff, creek, and falls. This was apparently a hideout for war resisters in the distant past. It is a tougher hike than the McFerrin Point above, but still only a little over a mile one way. I would rate it about the same level of difficulty as Lost Valley, but in the early going, it is pretty rocky. There are azaleas here in the spring.
Broadwater Falls

Half-Day Trip -- Short hike, waterfalls
Broadwater Falls is a great little day trip. I would estimate that it is roughly 14 miles north of Ponca off highway 43. It is located just past Compton, my little town. Just out of town, opposite the Ponca water facility, you will see a dirt road heading east off highway 43. It looks like a driveway with a house on the left, but it heads down into the park. The Broadwater Falls are down the road a couple of miles on the east (right). Drive down to the creek crossing the road, they backup to the parking area on the west side of the road. Nice wildflowers in season, three different falls, plus nice runoffs and big rocks. Great place to take pictures. 
Kyles Landing

Half-day Trip -- hiking, river, old buildings, landscapes on ORT
Kyles Landing is another place you can camp and still be pretty close to Boxley Valley, but Steel Creek is much closer. If you go to the west end of the campground you can take the Buffalo River Trail, or Old River Trail to many destinations along the river. You will have to cross the river on the ORT, but you will be rewarded with some great photo destinations, including Hemmed In Hollow accessed from the bottom. This is at least an intermediate hike, and a longer half-day trip. There is plenty to see without going all the way to Hemmed In Hollow.
Triple Falls

Next to Kyles Landing and easy to fit into a trip to Kyles
The Triple Falls are off the road to the Camp Orr Boy Scout Camp. You will see a sign to Camp Orr about half way down the road to Kyles Landing, off to the right. Follow this road down to the river level (on the level of the camp buildings). You will cross a runoff just as you enter the mowed area. On the left is a sign for the falls. Park there, and you will find a trail on the left side of the water heading up to the falls. This is a pretty short hike, a hundred yards or so and flat. This waterfall has strong seasonal flows, spring is usually the best time to shoot it. Take your wide angle lens, you will be working in close quarters. 
Resources: NPS Buffalo National River map. Free
National Geographic BNR Map -- West Half  You can buy these maps all around here, but here is one source online unless you can wait. This is the best map about this place, period. Plus is it waterproof.   $10  (This map is for sale in the Lost Valley Canoe Store and the Ponca Elk Education Center, make sure you get the west half. It is very useful. Around here if you don't have contour, you just don't know what you are getting into in any hike.)

GPS. Garmin has a contour map for the Buffalo National River. I have a Garmin 60CSX and I take it for serious bushwhacking. Honestly I don't need so much to keep from getting lost, but if I find a sweet spot I want to get back to for photography, it is extremely useful.

I don't make money on any of this. These are the best tools.
Other Things to Do:

If you need a break from photography, there is more of course. This is for the fall season.
Visit Jasper. Cool little town of 500. Interesting shop or two, Emma's Museum of Junk, very cool. County seat. Places to eat, Point of View Restaurant, Boardwalk Cafe, Ozark Cafe. Chamber Gift Shop (I sell there, plus plenty of nice stuff, mostly local artists).

Take a day trip to Eureka Springs. This is the most unlikely place around here, a Currier and Ives town built on rolling land. Lots of exceptional shops, galleries, and periodic festivals. We go there to get our "cultural fix", often taking in shows at the Aud. One of the 25 top arts destinations according to one magazine. Very enjoyable, my choice far above Branson, MO. Google Eureka Springs.

Catch the Ozark Mountain Artists Tour, third week of September, 2008 is September 19-21. My home is on the tour in Compton. Most artists are within 10 miles of Boxley Valley.  A lot of fun.

Newton County Bluegrass Festival --  Last weekend of September. Jasper  Contact the Jasper/Newton CC for details.  870-670-7792

Color Fest at Ponca Elk Education Center, October 24 and 25.  Art show for local artists. I will be there, but ONLY after shooting the elk in Boxley Valley. 870-861-2432. More on this later.
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