This One Small Arkansas Town Has More Outdoor Attractions Than Any Other Place In The State
On the northern tip of the Ozark National Forest resides the tiny town of Ponca. Technically an unincorporated community, this little gem is an absolute treasure trove of outdoor attractions. Let’s all escape from work responsibilities for a week and see what a fun-filled Ponca vacation can entail.
Some of these locations are in the surrounding Ponca area. Every place mentioned here is within a 15-mile radius.
Zip through the Ozarks' hardwood forest canopy.
The Buffalo River Canopy Tour provides the only line that zips through the Ozark wilderness. Choose from more than 1,000-ft. of zip lines, including a guided option. The guided tour will help point out the different birds, plants, and other wildlife you'll see on your journey through the trees.
The Buffalo River Canopy Tour is located at Newton 1325 Dr. in Ponca
Lose your stress in Lost Valley.
The Lost Valley Trail is a moderate hike less than 2 miles long. Along the trail, you can explore the different cave systems including the rock shelter, Cobb Cave. The trail also features multiple falls after a good rain.
Recharge in style.
After you've tacked some trails, take time to relax in the forest at Lost Valley Canoe & Lodging. They have a variety of lodging options including this fabulous yurt for glamping. You may want to also take advantage of their canoe, kayak and raft rentals to take on the Buffalo River.
Lost Valley Canoe & Lodging is located at HWY 43 Box 10 in Ponca.
See the state's tallest falls.
If you're in Ponca, then you need to take the time to tackle Hemmed-in Hollow Trail, just 9 miles northeast of the town. Either take the calorie-blasting, elevated 6-mile trail or shorten the journey by canoeing the Buffalo. This will shorten the hike to an easy 1/2 mile.
Hike to the most iconic spot in the state.
Another iconic Arkansas destination that must be visited during your Ponca stay is Whitaker Point Trail. A short drive 12 miles southeast of Ponca and about a 3-mile hike will take you to Hawksbill Crag, the most photographed spot in the state.
Visit a historic homestead.
Villines Homestead Trail is a short hike from the Buffalo River low water bridge. The homestead was built around the 1880s by owner "Beaver" Jim. This neat little spot of preserved history features a root cellar, outhouse, utility building and log cabin home.
How could you say no to this face?
Ponca prides itself on the elk herd that make their home between the town and the neighboring Boxley. The Rocky Mountain Elk were introduced to the area in the 80s and have developed into a thriving herd of about 800. To reach the field they frequent, just take Hwy. 43 south from Ponca.
Float the Buffalo.
One of Ponca's prominent features is its easy access to the Buffalo River. Although the river has countless options, we love the Ponca to Kyle's Landing float. It's a scenic 10-mile trip that takes you near Hemmed-in Hollow and pass the gorgeous bluffs surrounding the river. You can stop by the Buffalo Outdoor Center if you're needing some trip inspiration or canoe/kayak rentals.
The Buffalo Outdoor Center is located at 4699 AR Hwy 43 in Ponca.
Saddle up for an equestrian trail.
Another way to enjoy the beauty surrounding Ponca is with a guided horseback tour. Rimrock Cove Ranch offers 1, 2, or 3 hour tours around the Upper Buffalo River area. For a more secluded lodging option, you can also stay at the ranch's Stonewall Cabin after you've spent the day horsing around.
For directions to the ranch, visit their website right
Feel free at the falls.
Twin Falls (or Triple Falls if the rains have been strong) is a gorgeous spot to take a family hike. At Camp Orr the falls are a short jaunt from the parking lot. Don't be surprised if you run into a boy scout troop, as Camp Orr is their prime outdoor headquarters.
Camp under the stars.
If you're turned off by the idea of glamping or cabin rental rates, then camping at the Steel Creek is your perfect option. Stay under the stars, enjoy some s'mores and get ready for your next Ponca adventure.
To get to the campground, take Hwy 74 S out of Ponca about a mile to the Steel Creek entrance. Go left to reach the campground or right for the nearby swimming hole.
What other adventures around Ponca have you taken? Share with us in the comments below!
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