Saturday, April 28, 2012

4/28/12 Better Lucky than Good

Rare Picture of Bull Elk in April Crossing the Buffalo National River
Better lucky than good. This is a picture I have imagined but never thought I would get. These bulls only this month shed their antlers. Already they are growing replacements. This is very early velvet. The big thing is that they are crossing the river.

Elk are in a summer pattern now. If you want to get the bull shots, you better be here at daybreak. As soon as the sun hits the fields, they disappear -- about 8:00AM. You still have to be a bit lucky because bull elk are very timid. Often they are way back in the fields along the cane lines.

Friday, April 27, 2012

4/26/12 Good Elk Viewing, Summer Pattern Now

Box Turtles are migrating now -- This one on Erbie Road
Summer heat is back and the elk have pulled back from Boxley Valley a bit. Today there was one cow herd visible down by Smith Creek. A small bull herd was present near Beech Creek. Some bulls already have antlers in velvet about 6 inches long.

Warm weather and direct sunlight now has compressed the viewing times. This morning the elk were all gone by 8:30AM.

I got my first Buffalo River crossing of the year with the bull elk herd.

Box turtles are migrating now. Every year during mating season you will see them dotting area roads. Please don't pick them up and take them home. If you move them off the road, do it in the direction they are pointed. These turtles are returning to specific areas to mate. If you move them to where they came from, they will simply cross the road again.

I moved 5 of them today. It makes me sick to see them hit by cars. Most people cut them a lot of room. The soulless deranged target them -- surely they will reap what they sew. The ornate box turtles are a threatened species. Here is a link for further information:

Help protect and preserve box turtles in Arkansas.

April 26 Elk Herd Locations near Ponca, AR 

Friday, April 20, 2012

4/20/12 Rain Clearing, Elk Viewing Very Good, Wildflower Season at Lost Valley Done

Good elk viewing in the Boxley Valley today. Elk love rain and they don't like the sun except in cold weather. Today's conditions are perfect for them. Cool and overcast, with some rain.

The bull elk are in early velvet now. I saw some this morning with antlers nearing a foot high already. Most were just starting. Did you know that the elk antler growth rate is considered remarkable even to biologists?

Lost Valley wildflowers are at the end. Most of the show now is along the roadsides. There are good photos to be had. Dogwood trees peaked last week. There are some still in bloom, but most have dropped their petals now. It is quite early to be done. I suspect today's 51st Dogwood Tour was not up to the average for most years by a long shot. The 50 odd dogwoods on our land are done with just a couple of exceptions.

It looks like the weather will clear this afternoon. The amount of rain predicted fell a bit short. If you are planning to float, all floating will be from Pruitt and points downriver. There are middle and lower river floating opportunities. Learn about the river levels, and the outfitters on the Buffalo River Chamber website. The first link also provides topo maps with GPS coordinates for the entire length of the river.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

4/19/12 New Wildflowers, Mobile Website for Floaters

Shooting Stars Blooming Now in the
Buffalo National River Region
Hot weather early this year pushed the blooming date of all the wildflowers earlier in the year. As a result, the spring wildflower season is already post peak and tailing off for many species at least 3 weeks early.

Mountain azaleas, shooting stars, and lady slippers are now in bloom. If you want to get pictures, you will need to visit this weekend. the blooming window is narrow for these species, although there will be differences in blooming dates across the Buffalo National River region.

Bull elk have dropped their antlers.  The next big event is the elk calving season, beginning just about a month off. It peaks in early June. More on this later.

Floating has been pretty good this year so far. Early rains and warm weather made early floating possible for average folks. The river is down a bit now, but this weekend promises to recharge the river if the weather forecast holds. Weather forecasts are kind of lousy around here so it will be important to pay attention to the actual weather. The good news is the main rain events are set for Friday. It will be a cool weekend if the weather holds.

Floaters will want to check out the revised river gauge pages at and

Mountain Azaleas and Hummingbird Moth
The Buffalo River Chamber's mobile website has been completely revamped and is still being expanded. There are about 120 pages of information on the Buffalo National River. The mobile site serves real-time USGS river gauge information for the entire river, much the same as the regular chamber website. The mobile site is formatted at 320 pixels wide to accommodate smart phones, but the river gauges are also served in wide format. Serious floaters will want to bookmark these gauges on their phones and tablets for up-to-date information. Links to the river outfitters serving the length of the river are integrated into the gauge pages. Information on lodging, places to eat and other services are covered as well.

Remember that floating opportunities exist all along the river. "Shop" the river for good floating conditions. There are expert outfitters to assist you in each area of the river.

This weekend will be great hiking and camping weather and it continues at least through the middle of next week. Serious hikers love the extra stamina that cool weather provides.

Elk report tomorrow and an update on wildflower conditions.

Friday, April 13, 2012

4/12/12 Elk Viewing Good, Wildflowers Still Good

Wild Geraniums are Peaking, Seek Filtered Light
for Emotional Compositions
Elk viewing remains good.  As the weather warms, viewing times will compress. We are now in a cold snap so viewing times remain in the spring pattern. Mornings extend to 9AM or later if overcast. Evening viewing could start in late afternoon and extends to dark. Weather is everything.

What's next? Elk calving. June is peak month for elk calving. The tiniest calf elk are seldom seen before they are a few weeks old. When calving starts, getting to Boxley Valley at daybreak is key to seeing them. The general rule is cows with newborn calves disappear into the deep cover at the first sign of danger. Remember this, a cow elk with a newborn calf is dangerous. We are a few weeks from seeing the first calf elk, but they need to be given space.

Spring wildflower season is now giving way to summer, just about a month early. The blooms are very heavy but quite early too. In some cases the blooming periods have been compressed presumably because of early hot spells. Rain has been ideal.

Lost Valley and Smith Creek remain wildflower hot spots. I would estimate that there are perhaps two weekends left of good wildflower viewing. This varies widely according to altitude and moisture.

This could be the last weekend to get good dogwood shots. Dogwoods bloomed early this year and petals are dropping now. Possible thunderstorms this weekend could knock the last of the petals off. My guess is that this weekend is safe. Dogwoods in the deep woods will be a bit more protected.

Elk Locations and Wildflower Blooming Dates, Buffalo National River 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

4/5/12 A Perfect Weekend to Visit

Woodland Snail Lost Valley 2012
Woodland Snail Lost Valley
This morning I had Boxley Valley and Lost Valley Hiking trail to myself. This is absolutely prime time. The weather is perfect for hiking, riding and floating. Wildflowers are blooming stronger this year than in many years. In Lost Valley I am seeing species in new locations, and the number of blooming plants is just amazing. If I had to estimate, I would say the number of wildflowers is at least 2x recent years.

The dogwoods will be at peak this weekend. If you want to see the display you better get here. Dogwoods line the roadsides, creeks, and rivers. The earliest blooming dogwoods are now shedding their petals. Two weeks out there will be few dogwoods left. As I write this, the number of dogwoods in our woods would be difficult to estimate, I would hazard a guess at 100 trees on our land. The locust trees are in bloom too now.

The wildflower bloom is just amazing this year. Lost Valley and other trails are full of dwarf larkspur plants. We are in the middle of the season now. If you visit Lost Valley for wildflowers, hiking to the Natural Bridge is probably enough. Just below the bridge the columbines are peaking, and nearby wild geraniums are putting on quite a show.

Elk viewing is very good. Now we are past the antler drop so the bulls just look like huge cow elk with "stumps". Next up in the elk cycle is calving. Around June 1 is considered the peak for elk calving, but it continues for at least a couple of months. The herds are now located at both ends of the valley and in the middle. See the map below for exact locations.

Remember the best place to get in-depth information about the Buffalo National River is Chamber members are the businesses that serve the river and know the river. The Buffalo National River experience is in the rural counties along the river.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sasquatch Sighting in Lost Valley

Sasquatch Loves Crested Iris -- Now Blooming in Lost Valley
Sasquatch is Believed the Earliest Known Naturalist
The latest of a rash of Sasquatch sightings occurred in Lost Valley today. Visitors from the Dallas area reported seeing a hairy beast skulking along the trail near the natural bridge. Eyewitnesses said beast seemed to pause near a patch of blue wildflowers and stare intently at butterflies for a few minutes before disappearing in the woods.

"Nobody was more surprised than we were. We were just minding our own business when we looked up and saw the hairy beast. He smelled terrible. We will be coming back a couple of times this year to get a better look, and this time we are bringing a posse."

Sasquatch knows a good thing. Buffalo National River is a largely unknown national treasure in the National Park Service system. The park is the best kept secret in the US. Sasquatch has voted with his residence, evidence of his keen primate intellect. The Buffalo National river has great hiking trails and pristine wilderness areas.

Noted photographer, author, and President of the Buffalo River Chamber of Commerce offered his thoughts on recent sasquatch sightings.  "We welcome the attention sasquatch seekers have brought to the area. The national publicity from sasquatch has reshaped the chamber's strategic plan. Now that we have sasquatch in the Ponca Wilderness area, we have set our sights on promoting the Loch Ness Monster, often seen in the lower reaches of the Buffalo National River close to the confluence with the White River -- we call her "Buffie". The kickoff is our new bumper sticker, "Buffalo Crypto, We Got Your Beast Adventures".

He reflected the view of many pro photographers visiting the area. "An action shot Beast of the Buffalo would be a real wall-hanger. When I get that shot it will be 30"x40" in my living room."

In this 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Buffalo National River, crypto biology fans have become a new and expanding market. A retired park service official who wished to remain anonymous said "Buffie and sasquatch are well known to park staffers. He said there is even a rumored sighting of Buffie and sasquatch squaring off in the river in the Lower Wilderness area, reminiscent of the famous battles between Godzilla and Rodan. I lost $5 on that fight -- oops!. Am I on record?"  This has inspired yet another bumper sticker "Buffie and the Beast, The Wilderness SmackDown".

What is next for Buffalo National River? Will it be the same old paradise or will yet another beast make its presence known? Nobody knows for sure, but the best place to get your maps and park information, and keep up to date is Adventure awaits you.

Elk Herd Locations, Sasquatch and Wildflowers