THREE YEARS ago, I visited Jasper for the very first time armed with the question, “Is there something truly supernatural here?” I’d heard of the town’s alignment with Tibet (both geographically and spiritually), the abundance of crystals growing in the area’s multitudinous caves, and the yoga ranch and Buddhist retreat center tucked among its hills. And my guide for the day, local yogi Holly Krepps, did indeed open the third eye I didn’t even know I had. Between the divine food at Blue Mountain Cafe, the healing waters at Steel Creek and the hypnotic cardboard buffalo head I got at Emma’s Museum of Junk—it’s still displayed in a prized location in my classroom—Jasper was just as entrancing as I had imagined. So what’s Jasper like now? Every bit as magical as I remember.


Going straight to the (re)source in Jasper


One thing I witnessed the last time that didn’t make it into the article? The elk. Boxley Valley, located just off Arkansas Highway 43, is known for the Rocky Mountain elk that gather there. You can visit in February and March (when males shed their antlers and the new growth is covered with a soft brown velvet), in May and June (when calves are born, and the town hosts the Buffalo River Elk Festival in downtown Jasper on June 28-29) or in September and October (when the herd is extremely vocal because they’re rutting). The rutting elk call is something you could—and, let’s face it, probably should—Google, but believe me: There’s nothing like hearing it live.


The National Park Service will tell you that the Buffalo National River (America’s first National River, to be precise) is one of the few remaining undammed rivers in the contiguous United States. As such, the beauty that surrounds it—from running rapids to quiet pools to massive bluffs—is awe-inspiring. One of the river’s most interesting features is known by two names: Twin Falls and Triple Falls. For good reason, too! Located near Boy Scout Camp Orr, two-thirds of these cascades are fed by a spring, meaning they both flow pretty much year-round. But during wetter times, a third chute will form, resulting in the full Triple Falls experience. No matter what time of year you view them, though, the 50-foot waterfalls are a knockout, making them one of the most photographed water features in all of Arkansas.


Scenic Byway 7—the state’s first national scenic byway—runs north from Louisiana Highway 558 at the state line all the way to Bull Shoals Lake near the Missouri state line. Motorcyclists favor the route for its varied countrysides, from the Gulf Coastal Plain to pine forests and stream valleys. One such valley is especially of note: Just before Scenic Byway 7 twists down into Jasper, you can stop and take a look at Big Creek Valley, better known as the Grand Canyon of the Ozarks. As famous folklorist Vance Randolph once said about the Ozarks, “It’s not that the mountains are so high but that the valleys are so deep.” And when it comes to depth, Jasper is, for sure, your best bet.

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