from the perspective of a Pathfinder leader.
- several hiking tails. We went on the Dogwood Trail, War Eagle Trail, Spur 23, and the Forest Trail. All were good and easy to moderate. The War Eagle trail is along the river and has a nice overlook and a cave/bluff.
- friendly staff. The park Ranger came and did a presentation on native Arkansan mammals. I provided him with the honor requirements in advance and he touched on everything.
- there is a group area with enclosed pavillion.
- newer and clean shower houses
- nice wooded camping area and also "walk-in" (on a paved trail) camping sites
RECOMMENDATIONS: We asked a special favor to camp in the day use area right behind the visitor's center. This was GREAT for hammock camping because there was alot of trees. There was also 2 picnic tables and a grill. The creek runs right through the area which was fun for the kids to play and wade in. It is also quite a ways from the camping area which provided us with a bit more privacy and security.
Would I go back? YES!
- the day use area behind the visitor's center (where we camped) has no electricity or water. However, it is close to the restrooms. You'd need to drive to the camping area (about a mile) to get water.
- Arkansas HWY 23 runs right through the middle of the park. Traffic is limited, but there is some and it is a bit noisy.
- You have to drive to the trail heads and park. They are not loops, so you either have to hike back or leave a car parked at the end.
- Secluded group camping area in the woods that is open, well groomed, has a private parking area, 3 fire rings, multiple picnic tables, and private vault toilets. ($2 per person per night!)
- TWO caves in the park open for tours (one that has electric lights and one that requires you to bring a flashlight) - they offer affordable group pricing.
- a unique caving experience with unique formations
- Clean and updated showering facilities
- a variety of hiking options.
- an amphitheater with regularly scheduled nature events
- friendly & helpful staff
- close to the nearby town of Cuba, MO (hotels, walmart, gas, and dinning)
- close to the river for canoeing, fishing, or swimming
- It's beautiful and unique
- Nice sized gift shop with nature exhibits
RECOMMENDATIONS: Rent the group camping area. If it is booked on your weekend, consider changing your dates! The general campground is nice, but the secluded nature of the group area is really a treat for your group! Bring water jugs to haul water from the main camping area. CPAP sleepers beware, there is not electricity at the group area... consider renting a separate electric site in the general area.
ACTIVITY RECOMMENDATIONS: Hike the "Deer Run Trail." It takes about 2 1/2 hours. There is a variety of scenery, including a bluff overlooking the river.
TOUR BOTH CAVES! Cathedral Cave does not have electric lighting, but does have a paved trail (no crawling in this cave!). You can borrow flashlights from the park. It is by far the most impressive of the two when it comes to unique formations! You have to hike about 1/2 mile up the "Deer Run Trail" to get to the entrance to this cave. It's worth it! Onondaga Cave does have electric lighting and is your typical tour cave. It is BIG. Overall, there aren't as many unique formations... until you get to the "Lilly Pad Room." This is an optional part of the tour... go on it, it's awesome! The entrance to this cave is in the visitor's center. It begins with a informational video. I would consider not doing both caves on the same day. Lengthen the experience... save your legs!
- group camping area has no water or electricity
- from the group camping area you must drive to the trail heads, showers, amphitheater, and visitor's center
- the road to the group camping area is gravel and steep in placed, but seemed well maintained
- VERY small and limited gift shop
- MANY campsites to choose from. By the lake or on a mountain top. With electricity or without. In the woods or in a clearing. Hike in or drive in.
- Comparable prices. $20/night for an RV site.
- It's beautiful.
- There are many options of things to do. Disc Golf. Geo Caching. Hiking. Look outs. Waterfall. Pool. Lake. Nature Center.
- There are cabins... lots of them.
- Friendly Staff.
- All of the roads are well maintained and well marked.
- Close to Gasoline, Dollar General, and Subway.
CAMPING RECCOMENDATION: Camp in "Blue Jay Knob" campground. Well maintained. Bathhouses. Electricity and water. Fire Pits, BBQ grills, picnic tables, concrete pad. For a group, I recommend campsites 137, 138, 146, 147, 149. This allows you to have space for meeting area in the middle of your campgrounds. Relatively flat. Close to the playground and bathroom, but not too close.
ACTIVITY RECCOMENDATION: The park has an excellent disc golf course. Some discs are available for checkout. The park has 8 geo-cache sites... take a GPS. There several varieties of hiking for all skill levels. The lake is beautiful, weather permitting. The Corp of Engineers Dam & Look-out are a mile down the road... make sure to see it!
- The campground is HUGE and things are spread out. You'll probably need to drive to trail head and other activities, depending upon which campsites you choose.
- The Bathhouse was not the best I've ever seen. Usable? Absolutely. Ideal? No.
- Nature Center was under construction when we went... bad timing.