Wednesday, September 24
Start: El Reno, OK
Finish: Devil's Den State Park, near Wilson, AR
The El Reno Lake campground was a good deal, however it was a bit too close to I-40. It wasn't too loud, just persistent highway noise. Our first stop was in Oklahoma City at the Oklahoma City Museum and Memorial. We spent time outside at the Memorial. The recent trip report by '2014-The American Swansong' gave a good report of this museum and memorial. (Scroll down about 1/2 way down the page to read Derek's report in this link)
Before we left town we found gas for $2.89. The east side of town seems to have the best gas prices. Next stop was for ice at one of the roadside vending boxes, unfortunately it was under repair. The repairman told us there were machines in Shawnee, about 30 miles east on I-40. At $2 for 20 lbs of ice it is a great deal. We carry a collapsible cylinder (from Camping World) that will hold the 20 lbs. You can also get 16 lbs in a bag for $2. Next stop - Shawnee.
Further east in Oklahoma we visited Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, just 3 miles south of I-40. The refuge office has minimal displays, but the worker on duty gave us a lot of information. This refuge borders the Arkansas River and has been instrumental in repopulating the area with Bald Eagles.
After lunch we arrived in Fort Smith, AR and the site of Fort Smith National Historic Site. We arrived just as they were ready to fire their big, brass cannon. A ranger, dressed in period uniform, gave a short talk prior to the firing. He explained, while in his character, this cannon was being fired as part of an Independence Day celebration in 1876, the US Centennial. He explained that areas that were sympathetic to the Confederates did not celebrate 4th of July since the end of the Civil War. The commander at the fort had ordered the firing in 1876. To say the least, it was loud.
Cannon Firing re-enacters
We continued north on I-49 to just south of Fayetteville to camp at Devil's Den State Park. This area of Arkansas is considered part of the Ozarks. No Fall colors yet, just extensive hillsides of GREEN. My husband had planted a letterbox here in 2009. We got a camp site and hiked out to the box. The evening was cooling off nicely.
Arkansas state parks are wonderful. Camping, with no hook-ups cost us $9.88. Because one of us was over 62 there was a 25% discount, and that was without being a state resident. The restroom and non-coin showers were one of the cleanest I've seen anywhere. This park had no entrance fee so you could hike on their many trails, and probably make use of the showers.
Thursday, September 25
Start: Winslow, AR
Finish: Buffalo National River, St. Joe, AR
Quiet night in camp, weren't sure what to expect. We learned there was a large motorcycle rally in Fayetteville with the campground fairly full of bike groups. Luckily no one was up and on the go before we woke up. Enjoyed a hike on the Devil's Den Trail and found several letterboxes.
Devil's Den State Park
Rock Art along the trail
After showers we headed north on I-49, past Fayetteville. This was the site of the Bikes, Blues and BBQ event being held from Wednesday - Saturday. Later today we heard there were 450,000 bikers in attendance. Throughout the afternoon as we made our way across northern Arkansas it felt like we saw most of them. We drove through Eureka Springs on US 62 after leaving Pea Ridge Nat'l Military Park, on our way to Harrison, AR. Today's Poker Run for the bike event was to Eureka Springs!
After leaving Harrison we continued south to Buffalo National River, a new NPS site for me. On the way we stopped at Big Springs Restaurant in St. Joe, AR for smashed pennies. The food smelled so good I bought some smoked Pork Loin with their BBQ sauce to reheat at camp - Yum!
Tyler Center NPS campground, along the Buffalo River
Fossil Worm burrows - pavers at campsite - Buffalo National River
Oklahoma City Nat. Memorial - Oklahoma City, OK
Fort Smith NHS - Fort Smith, AR
Trail of Tears Nat'l Hist. Trail - Fort Smith NHS, AR
Pea Ridge Nat'l Military Park - Pea Ridge, AR
Trail of Tears NHT - Pea a Ridge NMP
Buffalo National River
Buffalo National River - First National River
Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge
Fort Smith National Historic Site (pictorial)
Pea Ridge National Military Park (pictorial)
Devil's Den State Park
Wednesday - 2
Thursday - 2