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Exploring Arkansas April 2010

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Pedestal Rocks Ice Caverns, Sam's Throne, Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge, Big Creek Natural Area
The Pedestal Rocks area near Pelsor is scenic as it is-but, if you hike in during the winter after a snowfall- you're rewarded with an extra added attraction-all the ice caverns below the bluffline. Sam's Throne rock formation south of Mount Judea in the Ozark National Forest is a popular destination with rock climbers and hikers alike. Taking the driving tour at Holla Bend National Wildlife Reserve south of Dardanelle, you can see bald and golden eagles snow geese and trumpeter swans. The Big Creek Natural Area east of Wilburn offers a woodlands hike to a crystal clear mountain stream with diverse populations of fish and other aquatic organisms.

TRANSCRIPT

THE PEDESTAL ROCKS SCENIC AREA IN THE OZARK NATIONAL FOREST INNER PELSOR IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE AREAS, ESPECIALLY IN THE WINTERTIME.  WE WILL TAKA TO HOLLA BEND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE SOUTH OF THE DARDENNELLE AND WE WILL CLOSE IT OUT AT BIG CREEK NATURAL AREA EAST OF WILBURN SPRINGS.  LET'S EXPLORE THE PEDESTAL ROCKS SCENIC AREA. THE PEDESTAL ROCKS SCENE AREA IS REALLY EASY TO GET TO, FROM HIGHWAY 7 IN PELSOR TAKE HIGHWAY 16 EAST FOR SIX MILES AND LOOK FOR THE SIGN ON THE RIGHT. AFTER CROSSING THE FOOT BRIDGE YOU CAN CONTINUE STRAIGHT TOWARDS THE PEDESTAL ROCKS AREA OR TAKE THE KINGS BLUFF LOOP TO THE RIGHT ADD ANOTHER 1.7 MILES TO YOUR HIKE N.  PEDESTAL ROCKS LOOP IS 2.2 MILES IN LENGTH AND RATED AS AN EASY HIKE.  OF COURSE IF YOU COME HERE AFTER A SNOWFALL IT MIGHT BE SHRIMPRY SLIPPERY IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE PROPER FOOTWEAR. ONCE YOU GET ABOUT HALFWAY ALONG THE TRAIL, AND JUST BEFORE YOU REACH THE VISTA A STEP DOWN AREA TO THE RIGHT LEADS YOU BELOW AND UNDERNEATH THE BLUFFS. THIS IS WHERE YOU CAN GET UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH NOT ONLY THE PEDESTAL ROCKS FORMATIONS, BUT ALSO WITH ALL THE ICE CAVERNS IF YOU COME AND EXPLORE IN THE WINTER.

THERE IS THE ADDED DANGER, THOUGH, WITH ALL THE HUGE ICICLES WHICH CAN FALL WITHOUT WARNING.  VIDEOGRAPHER CHUCK AND HAD TO AVOID WALKING DIRECTLY UNDERNEATH THEM. THIS IS SUCH A NEAT AREA BECAUSE IT DOES OFFER A GLIMPSE INTO THE ANCIENT GEOLOGY OF THE OZARKS. THE FORMATION OF THESE ROCKS, WELL, GEOLOGISTS STENCIL THAT 300 MILLIONS YEARS AGO THIS WAS AN ANCIENT RIVERBED AS THE WATER POURED AND CHANNELED THROUGH ROCK AREA FORMING THE OZARKS AND WHAT YOU SEE HERE. THE AVERAGE RIVER SYSTEM DEPOSITED LAYERS UPON LAYERS OF SEDIMENT AND THEN EXTREME WEATHERING AND CAUSED THE ROCKS TO BECOME SEPARATE FROM THE BLUFFLINE AS FREESTANDING PEDESTALS. SO WITH ALL THE PEDESTAL ROCKS FORMATION AND THE ICE CAVERNS IN THE WINTER,THIS TRULY IS A SCENIC AND UNIQUE AREA OF THE STATE.  AND WHEN YOU SEE IT, FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME, IT WILL SIMPLY LEAVE YOU IN AWE. [ ♪Music♪ ] [ ♪Music♪ ]

FROM PEDESTAL ROCKS WE TAKE YOU TO ANOTHER ROCK FORMATION, SAM'S THRONE. SOUTH OF MOUNT JUDEA IN THE OZARK NATIONAL FOREST THE WAY THE STORY GOES, DURING THE 18 '20s A PREACHER BY THE NAME OF SAM DAVIS WOULD USE THAT BLUFF AS HIS MASSIVE PULPIT DELIVERING SERMONS TO THE FOLKS BELOW AND THUS EVER SINCE IT'S BEEN REFERRED TO AS SAM'S THRONE.  A REAL ROCK OF AGES. IF YOU'RE COMING UP HIGHWAY 7 TAKE HIGHWAY 121 AT -- AND GO NORTH TEN MILES UNTIL YOU REACH THE SAM'S THRONE PULLOFF ON YOUR LEFT.  THERE MAY OR MAY NOT BE A SIGN DUE TO VANDAL SOUVENIR-TAKERS.  ONCE YOU COME DOWN THE ROAD AND PARK AT THE CIRCLE DRIVE YOU WILL SEE THE NEWLY DEVELOPED TRAIL HEAD LEADS ON THE LOOP TO THE OVERLOOK AND ALSO THE ORIGINAL TRAIL DOWN THE MIDDLE.  HIGHWAY 123 FOR THIS VIEW. IF YOU DESIRE TO GO DOWN TO THE BASE OF THE BLUFFLINE THERE'S ANOTHER UNMARKED TRAIL, BUT WELL-WORN BINS BEGINS PEUPPER END OF THE CAMPING AREA AND DROPS DOWN THROUGH AN OPENING IN THE BLUFFLINE.  THIS TRAIL EVENTUALLY, WILL TAKE YOU TO THE BASE OF SAM'S THRONE.  SO IF YOU HAVE THE TIME, EXPLORING BOTH THE TOP AND BOTTOM OF THIS ENTIRE AREA, WOULD BE WELL WORTH YOUR WHILE. [ ♪Music♪ ]

AFTER A COUPLE HOURS OF HIKING YOU WILL SEE FOR YOURSELF WHY IN LOCATION IS POPULAR WITH ROCK CLIMBERS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS ALIKE.

YOU GOT THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT TO TAKE PICTURES WITH?  THE RIGHT CAMERAS?

MAKE US A WEBSITE FROM ALL THE DIFFERENT -- [ ♪Music♪ ]

AS WITH THE PEDESTAL ROCKS AREA, THE SAM'S THRONE AREA TOO IS SCENIC JUST ABOUT ANYTIME OF THE YEAR, BUT IN THE WINTERTIME WITH ALL THE ICICLES AND WHAT NOT, IT TAKES ON ITS OWN PICTURESQUE UNIQUE LOOK. SO WHETHER YOU SPEND SEVERAL HOURS OR SEVERAL DAYS BY UTILIZING THE NEW CAMPING FACILITIES YOUR VISIT TO SAM'S THRONE WILL MAKE FOR SOME LASTING MEMORIES AND PLENTY OF SPECTACULAR PHOTOS. WHO KNOWS, YOU MAY MEAN ENCOUNTER THE GHOST OF SAM DAVIS SITUATED ATOP HIS THRONE. [ ♪Music♪ ]

NEXT TIME YOU GET AN URGE TO TAKE A JOYRIDE, HOW ABOUT A WILDLIFE JOYLOID RIDE AND IF YOU MAKE IT AT HOLLA BEND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE ANYTIME DURING THE FALL OR WINTER YOU STAND AN EXCELLENT CHANCE OF SEEING THE GREATEST VARIETY OF WILDLIFE. HOLLA BEND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE IS LOCATED SOUTH OF DARDENNELLE, OFF HIGHWAY 7 TAKE HIGHWAY 155 FOR ABOUT FOUR MILES AND YOU WILL COME TO THE ENTRANCE ROAD AND GATE.  A FEE AND VEHICLE ENTRANCE PASS IS REQUIRED. THE 8-MILE AUTO TOUR IS THE BEST WAY TO LEARN ABOUT THE REFUGE AND THERE ARE INFORMATION PANELS ALL THROUGHOUT THE ROUTE. THE FIRST SECTION OF THE DRIVE WILL TAKE YOU ALONGSIDE THE ARKANSAS RIVER AND DOWN TO ONE OF TWO BOAT LAUNCHING AREAS. YOU CAN THEN BACKTRACK AND HEAD SOUTH ON ANOTHER ROAD TO OTHER SECTIONS OF THE REFUGE. FOR YOUR BEST CHANCES OF SEEING WILDLIFE IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT YOU STAY IN YOUR VEHICLE AND DRIVE ALONG SLOWLY, BUT IF YOU GET THE URGE TO GET OUT AND DO A LITTLE EXPLORING, THERE IS AN OBSERVATION TOWER HERE YOU CAN UTILIZE. THE OBSERVATION TOWER HAS BEEN REBUILT AND IS NOW BARRIER-FREE VIEWING SCOPES AVAILABLE AT THE TOP FOR A CLOSER LOOK AT WILDLIFE.  BUT IF YOU DO HAVE A PAIR OF BINOCULARS YOU MIGHT WANT TO BRING THEM ALONG AS WELL AS FOR USE IN OTHER AREAS OF THE REFUGE. HIKING TRAILS ARE ALSO AVAILABLE SUCH AS ALONG THE LEVEE TRAIL. HOLLA BEND'S HISTORY IS RICHLY STEEPED IN AGRICULTURE.  SOME OF THE HE RECALLSIEST INHABITANTS WERE THE OSAGE AND CHEROKEES. HOLLA BEND IS NAMED AFTER ONE OF THE EARLY SETTLERS, HOLLY BROWN, FOLLOWING A SURVEY CREW IN 1830, SUBSEQUENT MAPPING THERE WAS AN APPARENTLY MISSPELLING FROM HOLLY TO HOLLA BEND.  65 FAMILIES LIVED -- A DEVASTATING FLOOD IN 1927 AND OTHERS THAT FOLLOWED, DROVE MOST OF THE FARMERS OFF THE LAND. DURING THE 1950s, THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS IN AN EFFORT TO IMPROVE NAVIGATION AND FLOOD CONTROL STRAIGHTENINGENED THE ARKANSAS RIVER BY CUTTING A NEW CHANNEL ACROSS HOLLA BEND THE RESULTING ISLAND, BETWEEN THE OLD RIVER CHANNEL AND THE NEW ONE, BECAME HOLLA BEND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE. TOGETHER WITH THE AGRICULTURAL FIELDS ALL THE WATER MAKE FOR QUITE A HOME FOR WINTERING WEIGHT FOWL AND IT'S NOT UNCOMING TO HOST 100,000 DUCKS AND GEESE AT ONCE, INCLUDING CANADA AND SNOW GEESE.

SNOW GEESE, CANADA GEESE AND ALSO TRUMPTER SWANS INTRODUCED TO THE REFUGE.

HOPEFULLY THEY WILL BE COMING BACK YEAR AFTER YEAR THE TRUMPTER SWANS.

YES, A JOINT PROJECT REVERSE MIGRATION.

AND PROVIDING FOOD HERE FORCE THE WATERFOWL DO THAT WITH THE VARIOUS CROPS.

YES, FOR THE WATERFOWL WE WANT -- THREE WAYS ONE WITH THE NATIVE SOIL, WATER AND DEWATER THE AREAS ASK AT CERTAIN TIMES OF THE YEAR AND PRODUCES -- GREAT FOR THE DUCKS AND THE OTHER WAY IS THROUGH THE CROPS. SET UP WITH OUR COOPERATIVE FARMS.  75% OF THE CROPS FOR HIM AND -- FOR US, MEANING WATERFOWL.  CORN AND MILLET.

EAGLES NEST?  HAVE A COUPLE THREE OF THOSE?

YES, THREE ACTIVE EAGLES NEST.  STARTED WITH THE TOWERS BACK IN THE 1980'S WE WERE ENCOURAGING EAGLES TO NEST HERE ON THE REFUGEE.

AND OF COURSE YOU HAVE THE ONES THAT MIGRATE HERE AND THEN RETURN.

YES, THERE ARE MIGRATORY EAGLES THAT COME DOWN COME IN THE WINTERTIME AND SEE UP TO 10, 20 BIRDS AT A TIME AND TEND TO FOLLOW THE WATERFOWL.

WHAT YOU ENJOY PERSONALLY HERE SINCE YOU HAVE BEEN HERE.

I ENJOY THE HABITAT AND LOOKING AT HOW THINGS CHANGE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.  HOW YOU COME TO ONE AREA AND SEE LOTS OF DUCKS AND GEESE AND TROPICAL AS WELL AS.

REFUGES IN GENERAL, I KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE FOR SOME REASON THEY THINK IT'S STRICTLY FOR THE WIFE, BUT FOR PEOPLE TOO WILDLIFE.

THE WILDLIFE IMPROVEMENT ACT PASSED IN THE EARLY 1990s WE ENCOURAGE PEOPLE IT TO THE REFUGE AND PARTICIPATE.  FISHING AND ENVIRONMENTAL -- AND WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY.  WE ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO COME AND ENJOY THE REFUGE AS WELL.

SO LIKE CARTER SAYS, COME OUT AND ENJOY THIS WILDLIFE REFUGE. IT REALLY IS NOT JUST FOR WILDLIFE.  IT'S OPEN FROM SUN RISE TO SUNSET AND EARLY MORNING OR LATE AFTERNOON, IS THE BEST VIEWING TIME.  WHEN WILDLIFE IS MOST ACTIVE.  AND REMEMBER, TO TAKE ONLY PICTURES. [ ♪Music♪ ]

THE BIG CREEK NATURAL AREA, EAST OF EVER SPRINGS THE BIG CREEK HIKING TRAIL, LOOP TAKE US INTO THE CREEK ITSELF.  HIGH QUALITY WATER CONTENT HERE, DIVERSIFIED, FISH POPULATION ALONG WITH OTHER AQUATIC ORGANISMS, NOT TO MENTION, 200-FOOT HIGH BLUFFS.  SO LET'S HIT THE TRAIL. [ ♪Music♪ ]

GETTING TO BIG CREEK NATURAL AREA FROM THE TOWN OF WILBURN GO EAST ON TYLER ROAD FOR 9/10 OF A MILE AND THEN RIGHT ON CENTER CHAPEL ROAD FOR 1.4 MILES.  AT THE STOP SIGN GOING TRADING THE TO HERITAGE TRAIL ROAD FROM THERE FOLLOW THE SIGNS TO THE NATURAL AREA. SINCE HUNTING IS ALLOWED ON THIS NATURAL AREA, IF YOU MAKE YOUR HIKE DURING HUNTING SEASON, WEARING HUNTING ORANGE WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA. DURING OTHER TIMES OF THE YEAR, TO BLEND IN, WEAR NATURAL COLORS, UNSCENTED LOTIONS AND DON'T SMOKE.  BRIGHT COLORS AND UNFAMILIAR SMELLS WILL SPOOK ANIMALS BEFORE YOU SEE THEM. SCAN THE WOODS AND LISTEN AND INSTEAD OF LOOKING OUT INTO THE OPEN USE A TREE OR BOLDER TO WREAK BREAK UP THE OUTLINE. KEEP PETS ON A LEASH OR BETTER YET, JUST LEAVE THEM AT HOME SINCE THEY MAY CHASE STARTLE OR KILL WILDLIFE. SINCE THESE ARE INTERPRETIVE NATURE TRAILS, INFORMATIONAL PLACARDS ARE SITUATED ALONG THE PATHS.  ALSO SMALLER PLAQUES HELP TO IDENTIFY SMALLER PLANTS AND TREES ALONG THE WAY. FINALLY, BIG CREEK DOES DEFINITELY LIVE UP TO ITS NAME. THIS WIDE UNSPOILED STREAM WINDS THROUGH SOME OF THE ARKANSAS' MOST SCENIC WILDERNESS. THE EXCELLENT WATER QUALITY SUPPORTS MANY TYPES OF AQUATIC WILDLIFE, INCLUDING, FISH, AMPHIBIANS AND INSECTS.  IT'S CALLED A POOL AND RIPPLE SYSTEM DEEP GREEN WATER SEPARATED BY RAPID AND SHOALS. CLEAR OXYGEN-RICH WATER QUICKLY CASS CASCADES OVER THE ROCKY STREAM BED AT 11 FEET PER MILE. BIG CREEK IS PART OF A BIG WATERSHED.  IS RESPONSIBLE FOR DRAINING MORE THAN 230 SQUARE MILES ALONG THE ROUTE BEFORE EMPTYING INTO THE LITTLE RED RIVER. THE LITTLE RED RIVER SYSTEM IN TURN DRAINS MORE THAN 1 MILLION ACRES BEFORE FLOWING INTO THE WHITE CHRISTOPHER WATER FROM THE WHITE FLOWS INTO THE MISSISSIPPI RESPONSIBLE FOR DRAINING ALL THE RUNOFF FOR THE CENTRAL UNITED STATES.  THUS WATER RUNNING ALONG BIG CREEK MAY EVENTUALLY, FIND ITS WAY TO THE GULF OF MEXICO THROUGH THIS ENTIRE SYSTEM. BIG CREEK NATURAL AREA ALSO CONTAINS WHAT IS KNOWN AS A RIPARIAN FOREST.  RIPARIAN OR STREAM SIDE AREAS IN STREAM VALLEYS USUALLY CONTAIN A RICH SOIL CONTENT.  FERTILE TOPSOIL AND DECAYING ORGANIC MATERIAL ALL WASH DOWN THE HILLS AND BLUFFS TO SETTLE THE IN THE VALLEY BELOW THE END RESULT IS SOIL WITH CONSISTENT MOISTURE LEVELS WITH GOOD CONDITIONS FOR A GROWING CONDITIONS FOR A VARIETY OF PLANTS. SO ENJOY SOME OF THE BEST AND LAST REMAINING EXAMPLES OF ARKANSAS' ORIGINAL NATURAL ENVIRONMENTS HERE AT BIG CREEK AND TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU LEAVE PLACES LIKE THIS IN BETTER CONDITION THAN YOU FOUND THEM, IF YOU SEE LITTER PICK IT UP AND TAKE WITH YOU, IT ONLY TAKES A LITTLE EFFORT, BUT IT MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE. [ ♪Music♪ ]

SO EXPLORE BIG CREEK NATURAL AREA FOR YOURSELF, EAST OFIVER SPRINGS FOR MORE ON THIS DESTINATION PLUS MANY OFF OUR OTHERS AND TO READ MY BLOG OR ORDER A COPY OF THE EPISODE, VISIT OUR WEBSITE, WWW. WWW.AETN.ORG/"EXPLORING ARKANSAS."  AND LOOK FOR ANOTHER ADVENTURE ON EXPLORING ARKANSAS.

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