Arkansas Wildlife Blog and Gallery
Buffalo National River and NW Arkansas
Photographers and nature fans need other destinations to fill out the day because elk viewing alone is not enough, it is pretty much a morning and evening thing. Often, the elk migrate away for a few days. What then?
There are two great "next destinations". Lost Valley, that I have already written about, and Steel Creek, that I have only glossed over except for a handful of pictures. I believe that Steel Creek is the equal of Lost Valley as a photographic destination, it is just different with different subjects -- a nice compliment really to Lost Valley. Steel Creek is my second choice as a place to camp, second only to Lost Valley. I would rate the two nearly equal really. Steel Creek offers camping resources for tents, and horse camping. The two campgrounds are separated by about a quarter of a mile inside Steel Creek. Both are very popular with good reason.
Steel Creek connects to the Ponca access site on the Buffalo National River through both the Old River Trail (ORT) and the Buffalo River Trail (BRT). Both of these trails offer exceptional photo opportunities and both are relatively short hikes. Both trails continue on to Kyles Landing. Again, these stretches of both trails are excellent adventures, and there are many branching trails leading to Hemmed In Hollow, Granny Henderson's place, Sneed's Creek, and other destinations. One could easily camp at Steel Creek and hike to all these trails and destinations and fill a week or more without driving anywhere. These are nearly inexhaustable resources.
Boxley Valley is only a little over two miles from Steel Creek to the first fields at Ponca. Nearby is the village of Ponca with great local resources like Lost Valley Canoe for groceries, gasoline, and supplies, and the Ponca Elk Education Center, for a nice side trip and the most up to date information on the elk and resources around the valley. The educational exhibits are great, and Mary Ann and Carol are expert sources of local information.
In Steel Creek itself there is Roark Bluff. This is a majestic bluff and one of the state's more famous destinations for photographers. The bluff is long and high and winds along the Buffalo River. The river has many large rocks and pools, the tree lined banks include colorful fall foliage in season. After rain storms water pours off the bluff offering another photographic opportunity. Every change of season offers a different experience and an excuse to visit.
Steel Creek, the creek, joins the Buffalo River at the northeast end of the campground. This area is also scenic along the river with more bluff line, big rocks and deep pools.
All in all, Steel Creek is a great destination. Visitors to the upper Buffalo River area should place it on their must see list. Photographers will find it and the adjoining trails an unlimited source of photographic possibilities.
Some Steel Creek pictures:
Steel Creek Campground