Mile 69

1. Greers Ferry Lake and Dam

Greers Ferry Lake might be well known for hosting just about every recreational water activity under the sun, but it wasn’t always such a booming summer spot. Swing by the Greers Ferry Dam to see the impressive U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project that formed the lake, making the area what it is today. In his remarks at the dam’s dedication ceremony on October 3, 1962—his last major public appearance before his assassination in Dallas just a month later—President John F. Kennedy predicted the project would benefit both Arkansas and the nation, and that “the full impact of it will be felt by the sense of recreation and industry and all the rest in five, 10, 15 and 20 years.” Turns out, he was right. (arkansas.com/beach/greers-ferry-lake)

Do This: June 8: Lighted Boat Parade at Greers Ferry Lake

 

Mile 104

2. Indian Rock Cave near Fairfield Bay

Almost 8,000 years ago, this Ozark bluff shelter was used by Native Americans for … well, thanks to artifact-digging tourists in the 1930s, and a backhoe in the ’60s, we can’t know for sure. What we do know, however, is that the walls are covered in petroglyphs, or rock carvings. The imagery includes several depictions of human figures and one four-legged animal, in addition to a handful of geometric shapes and lines. Interestingly, there’s also a plaque from 1934 that claims the location was visited by Hernando de Soto, but current research indicates that while the explorer did visit Arkansas, he never made it that far into the Ozarks. (arkansas.com/historic/indian-rock-cave-and-trail)

 

Mile 136

3. Skylark Cafe in Leslie

We’ve written about Skylark Cafe many times, so it goes without saying that if we find ourselves in the area, we make a stop. The green chile tacos? The Cuban? The adorably quaint mint-green home that houses the restaurant? We simply can’t get enough. It doesn’t hurt that owners Joy and Denver Ellis treat all their customers like family, so it’s easy to feel at home. Pro tip: Get the strawberry pie. (facebook.com/SkylarkCafeLeslie)

 

Mile 162

4. Buffalo River at Dillard’s Ferry

If you’re crossing the first national river anyway, you might as well stop at the Dillard’s Ferry river access and splash around or skip stones for a spell. In fact, if you’ve got time to kill, the 1.5-mile float from Dillard’s Ferry to Buffalo Point is the only part of the Lower Buffalo that the National Park Service recommends for tubing. So grab your air pump and keep an eye out for Skull Rock. (nps.gov/buff)

 

Mile 170

5. Rush Historic District in Yellville

Just west of the Buffalo River near Yellville lie the remains of a zinc mining district dating back to the 1880s. The town of Rush developed after the discovery of zinc ore in nearby Rush Creek, resulting in a community of homes and businesses that thrived into the 1930s. But as the industry waned, inhabitants of the 1,300-acre area began to leave until the community was completely abandoned by the 1960s. What remains is a fairly well-preserved ghost town of buildings, structures, roadways, and mines that, along with hiking trails and interpretive exhibits, offers a glimpse into the area’s history. (nps.gov/buff)

Do This: Read the detailed narrative of the Hicks Property at the Rush Historic District, and check out a digital reconstruction from the University of Arkansas’ Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies of what the property might’ve looked like in its prime. (cast.uark.edu/hicks.php)

 

Mile 188

6. Fred Berry Conservation Education Center on Crooked Creek in Yellville

Need to stretch your legs a little more after all that time in the car? Visit the Fred Berry Conservation Education Center where there are two short hiking trails perfect for treating your automobile-induced atrophy: The Woodland Edge Trail—the center’s newest—is an easy 1-mile loop, while the 2.5-mile Creek Bottom Trail provides easy access to Crooked Creek if you feel like doing a little wildlife watching or fishing. Pro tip: Grab both the birding and butterfly checklists at the education building. (fredberrycec.com)

 

SOUVENIRS: A to-go cup of Skylark Cafe’s housemade chili. A sketch of the petroglyphs at the Indian Rock Cave. A dam good photo of Greers Ferry Lake. A piece of trash from the Buffalo River (we’ve all got to do our part to keep Arkansas beautiful).