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Exploring Arkansas July 2010

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Slaughter Pen Mountain Bike Park, Little Maumelle River Float, White River National Wildlife Reserve, Crater Of Diamonds State Park
Located near downtown Bentonville, it's a unique name for a unique mountain biking experience - Slaughter Pen, which offers both a single track trail and a freestyle area. Pinnacle Mountain State Park offers a wilderness float trip on the Little Maumelle, just minutes away from Little Rock. White River National Wildlife Refuge in east Arkansas at ninety miles in length, is the largest in the state. People from all over the world come to "the Crater" near Murfreesboro in search of diamonds because it's the only diamond producing site in the world open to the public.

TRANSCRIPT

[MUSIC PLAYING]

IT'S ONE OF THE FINER MOUNTAIN BIKING PARKS IN THE STATE, SLAUGHTERPEN HOLLOW HERE IN BENTONVILLE, AND THEN WE'LL GO KAYAKING, AND THEN WE'LL LOOK AT THE WHILED LIFE MOUNTAIN REFUGE, SO NOW LET'S HIT THE TRAIL HERE AT SLAUGHTERPEN HOLLOW. THE SLAUGHTERPEN HOLLOW MOUNTAIN BIKE COMPLEX IS LOCATED A COUPLE OF MILES NORTH OF THE BENT STONVILLE SQUARE NEAR THE BUSINESS SECTION OF HIGHWAY 71 AND NORTHWEST A STREET.

SLAUGHTERPEN HOLLOW ORIGINATED FROM SLAUGHTER HOUSES THAT EXISTED IN THIS VALLEY BACK HERE AND MOST OF THE ORIGINAL TRAILS, THE FIRST PHASE 1 ALONG THIS RIDGE LINE UP HERE, ABOUT 5.2 MILES AND NOW WE ARE BASICALLY WORKING ON THE FOURTH STAGE RIGHT NOW. WITH A COMPANY CALLED PROGRESSIVE TRAIL DESIGN.

SOME OF THESE TRAILS ARE ANYWHERE FROM BEGINNER ALL THE WAY TO THE MOST DIFFICULT.

YEAH, WE HAVE -- MOST TRAILS ARE I WOULD SAY BEGINNER INTERMEDIATE, SOME FAVOR THE INTERMEDIATE. MOST OF THE TRAILS HAVE ALTERNATE LINES WHICH THE MORE ADVANCEDED RIDERS WILL ATTEMPT OR RIDE THOSE MORE OFTEN THAN A LOT OF THE MAIN LINES. BUT, AGAIN, JUST A REALLY WELL PUT TOGETHER SYSTEM OF ABOUT 14 MILES OF SINGLE TRACK.

TELL US ABOUT THE TACTICAL STUFF HERE, THE DROP-OFFS.

YOU'LL SEE OVER HERE WE'LL SHOW YOU THE DROP-OFF, THE MORE ELEVATED LOG RIDES HAVE BEEN PUT IN SINCE THE EARLY DAYS ALL THE WAY UP TILL NOW, ELEVATED LOG RIDES, LADDER RIDES, ROCK GARDENS, TECHNICAL LINES THAT ARE MEANT FOR MORE PROGRESSIVE RIERDZ TO PUSH -- RIDERS TO PUSH THEMSELVES, TO WORK ON BIKE HANDLING SKILLS TO GIVE YOU MORE OF A FEEL THAN JUST SAY SMOOTH PIECE OF SINGLE TRACK.

AND SHOULD YOU GET TIRED OF BIKING ON THE SINGLE TRACK, SLAUGHTERPEN OFFERS A PREFILE AREA IF YOU WANT TO REALLY CUT LOOSE! SINCE SLAUGHTERPEN HOLLOW IS A POPULAR DESTINATION WITH MOUNTAIN BIKERS FROM A THREE TO FOUR STATE AREA IT RECEIVES WEAR AND TEAR ESPECIALLY ON WEEKENDS SO MAINTAINING THE PARK'S TRAIL SYSTEM IS CRITICAL.

A GROUP CALLED "FRIENDS AT SLAUGHTERPEN HOLLOW TRAIL, SO FAS T, WE MAINTAIN THE TRAILS, GET 40 PEOPLE OUT ON THE TRAILS, 14 MILES OF SINGLE TRACK YOU CAN TAKE CARE OF QUITE A BIT AND IN BETWEEN JUST, YOU KNOW, CONSCIOUS TRAIL RIDERS, LIKE MYSELF, NOCK A ROCK OUT OF THE WAY OR A DOWNED LIMB MOVE IT OUT OF THE WAY WHILE NOT REMOVING TRAIL OBSTACLES THAT ARE MEANT TO BE THERE, BUT FAST IS A GREAT ORGANIZATION THAT PUTS ON THE SLAUGHTERPEN HOLLOW JAM FESTIVAL OUT HERE.

SO FOR A TRAIL THAT FORCES YOU TO CATAPULT OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONE NOT TO MENTION THE BEAUTY THROUGHOUT 180 ACRES, NO MATTER WHAT TIME OF YEAR YOU RIDE CHECK OUT THE SLAUGHTERPEN HOLLOW CHALLENGE FOR YOURSELF. YOU'LL WANT TO COME BACK FOR MORE!

AT PINNACLE MOUNTAIN STATE PARK AFTER YOU GET TIRED OF CLIMBING PINNACLE, YOU CAN STRAP YOURSELF INTO A KAYAK AND HEAD DOWN THE LITTLE MAUMELLE RIVER. JOINING US IS SUSAN STAFFELD WHO IS GOING TO GUIDE US ALONG.

YOU'VE GOT TO TURN, THAT WAS NICE.

AFTER SHOVING OFF IT DOESN'T TAKE LONG UNTIL YOU START SEEING GLIMPSES OF WILDLIFE, ESPECIALLY TURTLES SUNNING THEMSELVES ON THE LOGS, YES, THE LIFE OF A TURTLE. YOU'LL FIND CANADIAN GEESE OUT ON THIS TRAIL AS WELL, AND THE SONG BIRDS TO SERENADE YOU.

WE TRY TO DO THESE FLOATS PRETTY REGULARLY, WE RENT CANOES, DO GUIDED FLOATS IT'S A FABULOUS RIVER TO PADDLE O A LOT OF WILDLIFE, DIFFERENT FREEZE AND BEAUTIFUL SCENERY.

AND THE ROUTE IS 4, 4.5 MILES?

OUR GUIDED MILE IS 4.5 MILES AND WE TRY TO PADDLE AROUND A LITTLE BIT AND LOOK FOR A GOOD PLACE TO EAT LUNCH AND PADDLE DOWN AND THEN BACKTRACK.

YOU WERE TELLING ME ABOUT THE CHANGES ON THE RIVER.

IT'S AN INTERESTING RIVER TO PADDLE BECAUSE UP BY THE PARK, BY THE PICNIC AREA IT TENDS TO BE MORE OF A FLOWING RIVER, AS YOU GO DOWN RIVER YOU GET CLOSER TO THE ARKANSAS RIVER AND THE DAM TURNS INTO A DEEPER, WIDER RIVER.

THERE IS A CRITTER BEHIND YOU.

A BROAD-BANDED WATER SNAKE.

I KNEW THE FIRST WILDLIFE CREATURE WE WOULD SEE WAS A WATER SNAKE!

THAT'S A COMMON SNAKE TO SEE OUT HERE, NOT VENUES MUSBUT THEY CAN BE MAEN! MEAN!

AS LONG AS WE DON'T CONFRONT AN ANACONDA I'LL BE ALL RIGHT, LITTLE SNAKZ I CAN HANDLE BUT WHEN THEY GET OVER 10 FEET THEN THAT PRESENTS A BIT OF A PROBLEM. SO I GUESS FOR A FAMILY OUTING THIS IS AN AVERAGE, DECENT FLOAT, THEN?

YEAH, IT'S GREAT BECAUSE YOU CAN TAKE A CANOE, IN A KA YACK YOU HAVE TO BE OLDER BUT FOR THE TEENAGERS, IT CAN BE AN ADVENTURE TO TAKE A KAYAK OUT ON TO THE RIVER.

LET'S HEAD ON DOWN AND SEE WHAT ELSE WE CAN SEE. WHAT MAKES THIS FLOAT TRIP UNIQUE IS THAT NORMALLY FOLKS DON'T EXPECT TO EXPERIENCE A WILDERNESS FLOAT LIKE THIS JUST MINUTES AWAY FROM LITTLE LOCK BUT IF YOU'RE PRESS -- LITTLE ROCK, BUT IF YOU'RE PRESSED FOR TIME AND ONLY HAVE ABOUT 3 HOURS MAX, THEN THIS IS THE WAY TO GO. IF YOU'RE DECIDING WHETHER TO GO CANOE OR KAYAK, I WOULD RECOMMEND KAYAK SINCE THERE ARE TIGHT SPOTS ALONG THE LITTLE MAUMELLE RIVER WHERE TIMBER HAS MANAGED TO BUNCH UP, BUT ALL IN ALL A DECENT FLOAT CLOSE TO LITTLE ROCK. #

WE'RE NOT DONE YET.

AVERAGING 3 TO 10 MILES WIDE AND ALMOST 90 MILES IN LENGTH, MOST CERTAINLY QUALIFIES THE WHITE RIVER NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE TO BE THE STATE'S LARGEST. IT CONTAINS THE LARGEST NUMBER OF NATIVE BLACK BEARS, MORE THAN 200, AND ARKANSAS'S LARGEST TREE A BALD CYPRESS MORE THAN 120 FEET TALL AND MORE THAN 13 FEET IN DIAMETER. WE MADE OUR TRIP NOT ALONG THE WHITE RIVER BUT ALONG INDIAN BAY LOCATED IN THE SOUTH UNIT OF THE REFUGE.

THE REFUGE NOW CONTAINS 160,000 ACRES AND SAY VIEWED AS THE LARGEST TRACK OF HARD WOODS LEFT IN THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY. THAT SIZE AND THE VALUE OF THOSE HARDWOODS AS A FORESTED WETLANDS IS RECOGNIZED AROUND THE WORLD AND THE WETLANDS HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED AS NATIONAL IMPORTANCE PRIMARY FOR THE BIRD VALUE AND THE DIVERSITY AND THE WIDE RANGE OF FLORA AND FAUNA WE HAVE HERE.

IT'S NOT JUST THE DUCKS AND GEESE YOU HAVE SONG BIRDS AND BIRDS GALORE.

IT IS A VALUABLE AND PRODUCTIVE HABITAT FOR WATER FOWL, AND THESE LARGE TRACTION OF BOTTOM LAND HARDWOOD ARE CRITICAL FOR NESTING SONG BIRDS AND A LOT OF THESE BIRDS WINTER IN CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA AND THEN THEY COME BACK HERE TO NEST, THE WORBLERS, A LOT OF DIFFERENT BIRDS THAT USE THIS HABITAT FOR THEIR NESTING AREAS.

AND MAYBE SOMEWHERE THE IVORY BILL BUT THAT'S A DIFFERENT STORY?

YEAH, MAYBE SOMEWHERE THERE IS ONE OUT THERE OR A PAIR STILL OUT THERE.

TELL US WITH THE ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FLOODING HERE THAT WE SEE ALONG HERE.

THE FLOODING IS REALLY WHAT IS THE DYNAMIC DRIVING FORCE OF THIS BOTTOM LAND HARDWOOD HABITAT. IT IS THE FOREST THAT SHAPED THE TOPOGRAPHY AND YOU LOOK ACROSS THE DELTA AND YOU THINK IT'S FLAT BUT THERE ARE SUBTLE INUNDATIONS AND SWELLS THAT WERE CREATED BY THIS ANNUAL FLOODING, AND THAT SHAPES THE LAND FORM OF THE BOTTOMS AND JUST MINOR VARIATIONS IN THAT FLOODING DETERMINES WHAT VEGETATION WE HAVE AND THEY ARE ALL CAPABLE OF WITHSTANDING DEPTHS AND DURATION OF FLOODING SO ACROSS THE FLOODPLAIN THERE IS A VARIETY OF ADAPTED SPECIES THAT ARE ADAPTIVE TO THAT PARTICULAR SITE AND SOMETIMES A FOOT OR TWO OF VARIATION WOULD CHANGE THE SPECIES THAT WOULD OCCUR ON THAT SIGHT SO IT DETERMINES THE VEGETATION AND IT IS REALLY THE DRIVING ENGINE THAT NOURISHES THE SYSTEM, BRINGS IN NEW SEDIMENTS EVERY YEAR AND FROM AN AQUATIC STANDPOINT IT IS THE HABITAT, THAT FLOOD PULSE, HERE IN THE SPRING, THIS IS WHAT WE CALL FISHERY HABITAT THAT IN THESE YEARS LIKE WE ARE HAVING NOW WHEN WE HAVE A SPRING, A LONG SPRING FLOODING, THE AVAILABILITY OF FISHERY HABITAT FOR SPAWNING AND EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF FISH, THIS IS AN EXCELLENT HABITAT AND IN THOSE FLOOD YEARS WE HAVE -- THE NUMBER OF ACRES AVAILABLE TO THE HABITAT INCREASES MANY FOLD. SO WHEN WE HAVE A GOOD SPRING FLOOD, WE KNOW THAT THE FISHERY REPRODUCTION IS EXCELLENT AND THAT SHOWS UP IN THE FOLLOWING YEARS.

BOTTOM LAND HARDWOOD FORESTS ARE INDEED THE SOUTH'S MOST PRODUCTIVE HABITATS AND THE DENSITY OF THIS WILDERNESS, MORE THAN 70 SPECIES OF TREES GROW PROVIDING A FOOD SOURCE THAT IS ALWAYS AVAILABLE FOR WILDLIFE DUE TO THE ACORNS, BERRIES AND SEEDS WHICH ARE PRODUCED THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. COMBINE THAT WITH MORE THAN 300 LAKES AND PONDS ON THE REFUGE AND YOU HAVE AN HAVEN FOR WILDLIFE AND FOR PEOPLE AS WELL.

IT'S THE ONLY PLACE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD WHERE YOU AND I CAN COME, DIG FOR DIAMONDS AND KEEP WHAT WE FIND. THE CRATER OF DIAMONDS STATE PARK MERE MURFREESBORO, FOR SOME IT TAKES ONE VISIT, OTHERS AREN'T AS LUCKY, SUCH AS MYSELF, I HAVE P COME COUNTLESS TIMES AND HAVE YET TO FIND A DIAMOND, MAYBE TODAY WILL BE MY LUCKY DAY, JUST MAYBE! DIAMONDS HAPPEN TO BE ONE OF THE OLDEST THINGS ON EARTH ANYWHERE FROM 3 TO 3.5 BILLION YEARS OLD. THIS 37-ACRE FIELD IS THE SURFACE OF AN ANCIENT VOLCANO THAT BROUGHT TO THE SURFACE YEARS DIAMONDS AND OTHER SEMI-PRECIOUS STONES, MAKING THE CRATER A ROCK HOUNDS PARADISE.

WELL, I LIKE IT. I LOVE ROCKS! I'VE BEEN SEARCHING FOR ABOUT TWO HOURS FOR A NICE ROCK AND FINALLY I FOUND SOMETHING. FINALLY I CAN GIVE UP!

YOU CAN'T GIVE UP YET YOU HAVEN'T FOUND A DIAMOND.

I FOUND SOMETHING!

WE LIVE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE AND WE SAW IT IN VACATION MAGAZINE SEVERAL YEARS BACK AND WE SORT OF OFF-HANDEDLY SAID WE WOULD COME HERE AND SOMEDAY IS THIS WEEK SO THAT'S THE REASON WE CAME TO ARKANSAS AND WE THOUGHT IT WOULD BE A GOOD TIME FOR THE KIDS, THEY LIKE TO DIG AND HOPEFULLY WE CAN MAKE THAT PAY OFF LIKE MOST WOULD WISH.

YOU HAVE A SYSTEM HERE BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND?

I'M HOPING THAT HE'S DIGGING DEEP AND I'LL SIFT AND GET MESSY AND WE BROUGHT A CHANGE OF CLOTHES, WE KNEW THAT THIS WOULD BE MESSY. WE DIDN'T REALIZE IT WOULD BE AS TOUGH AS IT IS BECAUSE THE DIRT IS THICK AND CLAY, THEY DON'T USUALLY TELL YOU THAT IN THE MAGAZINES. BUT IT'S STILL FUN AND I GUESS EVERYBODY HOPES THAT THEY FIND SOMETHING. WE'RE HOPIN'.

FROM FAR AND NEAR THEY COME HERE, SOME FOR THE BETTER PART OF HALF OF THEIR LIVES, AND HAVE EVEN WRITTEN BOOKS ABOUT IT.

I NORMALLY DIG AND WASH FOR DIAMONDS. I FOUND ALL MY DIAMONDS THAT WAY BECAUSE I SPEND MOST OF MY TIME THAT WAY AND THEY JUST PLOUGHED LAST THURSDAY AND IT RAINED SATURDAY AND SUNDAY AND I SPENT THE WEEKEND SURFACE SEARCHING, NOW I DIDN'T FIND ANY, BUT THREE DIAMONDS WERE FOUND ON THE SURFACE SO I KNEW THAT THAT RAIN AND SURFACING WOULD PRODUCE SOME SURFACING OF DIAMONDS, AND I DIDN'T FIND ANY, BUT THAT'S ALL RIGHT, I'VE FOUND HUNDREDS HERE, 2 OF THEM OVER A CARAT, A 2.04 YELLOW EASTER SUNRISE DIAMOND AND A 2.13 BROWN DIAMOND. HAD THAT ONE CUT AND IT ENDED UP BEING A LOVELY 1 AND A QUARTER CARAT. A GORGEOUS DIAMOND. I'M AMAZED AT HOW LITTLE KIDS FIND DIAMONDS OUT HERE, THEY'VE OUTDONE ME AND I'VE BEEN DOING THIS FOR YEARS AND YOU TELL A KID THERE ARE DIAMONDS OUT IN THIS FIELD TO BE FOUND AND THEY BELIEVE YOU AND THEY GO OUT AND THEY'RE GOING TO SEARCH UNTIL THEY FIND A DIAMOND AND A LOT OF THEM DO, IT'S AMAZING THE DIAMONDS THAT KIDS HAVE TURNED UP OUT HERE, AND ADULTS DON'T FIND AS MANY. THERE WAS A LADY FROM PENNSYLVANIA HERE MARCH 31st OF 2010 AND SHE CAME OUT AND A HALF AN HOUR AFTER REACHING THE PARK STEPPED OVER AND KICKED SOME ROCKS WITH HER TOE AND A 3 CARAT DIAMOND ROLLED OUT, 3.17 CARATS, SO SHE DID BETTER IN HALF AN HOUR THAN I'VE DONE IN 32 YEARS, BUT THAT'S THE BEAUTY AND THE AMACEMENT OF THIS PLACE IS YOU NEVER KNOW HOW BIG, WHEN, WHAT COLOR, THAT'S WHAT'S FASCINATING ABOUT IT.

IT WOULD BE NICE IF I COULD COME UP WITH A BIG DIAMOND RIGHT NOW!

EVERY YEAR NEERM 1,000 DIAMONDS ARE FOUND HERE AT THE CRATER, THIS PARTICULAR DAY A FATHER AND SON OUTING PROVED SUCCESSFUL WITH THIS 2.3 QUARTER GEM. LYNCH WE'VE BEEN HERE BEFORE, WE WERE HERE LAST YEAR FOR FOUR DAYS AND WE CAME HERE THIS YEAR BECAUSE THEY WERE ON VACATION AND DECIDED TO STOP IN HERE AGAIN AND THIS IS OUR SECOND DAY HERE, WE WERE ONLY GOING TO STAY FOR TWO DAYS SO WE'VE BEEN SIFTING THROUGH STUFF WITH SOLUTION ROCKS ALL DAY AND AFTER A WHILE WE DECIDED TO DO SOME SURFACE LOOKING AND WE WERE WALKING AROUND AND I WENT TO WALK DOWN AN AISLE AND I STOPPED TO LOOK AT A MEES OF MICA AND I FOUND THE DIAMOND IN SOMEONE'S SHOE PRINT. IT WAS A TIP BUT WHEN I DUG IT OUT, IT WAS BIG.

MOMENTS BEFORE I SAID WHEN -- WE HAVEN'T FOUND ANYTHING, BUT WE'RE WALKING ON DIAMONDS, HUNDREDS OF DIAMONDS AND THEY DON'T EVEN KNOW IT AND LOW AND BEHOLD YOU LOOK DOWN AND IN SOMEBODY'S SHOE PRINT, THERE IT IS!

NOW, IF AT THE END OF THE DAY HEAR YOU DON'T FIND YOUR DIAMOND THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE. YOU CAN PICK UP ONE OF THESE IN THE GIFT SHOP. NOT TOO SHABBY, ABOUT 100 CARATS.

  THE BIGGEST WAS FOUND HERE IN THE UNITED STATES, A 40-CARAT DIAMOND AND THEY NAMED IT THE UNCLE SAM DIAMOND BUT THERE MAY BE A DIAMOND UP TO 200 CARATS FOUND HERE SOMEDAY AND WHEN THAT I TOURIST TURNS UP THAT DIAMOND THERE WILL BE STANDING ROOM ONLY AT THIS PARK, BUT I'VE DECIDED TO COME BEFORE THE CROWD HITS AND MAYBE I'LL BE THE ONE TO FIND THAT DIAMOND.

SO IF YOU'VE NEVER BEEN HERE BEFORE, IT WOULD BE WELL WORTH YOUR WHILE TO PAY A VISIT AT LEAST ONCE. YOU NEVER KNOW, THAT ONE TIME MAY BE ALL IT TAKES. FOR MORE ON THIS DESTINATION PLUS MANY OF OUR OTHERS AND TO READ MY BLOG OR TO ORDER A COPY OF OUR WEBSITE, VISIT OUR WEBSITE JOIN US NEXT TIME FOR ANOTHER EXCITING ADVENTURE ON "EXPLORING ARKANSAS".

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