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YEAR #2 - STOP #58

"The Natural State"
is our 26th visited state

If you've been following along with our travels you'll have probably noticed that since the beginning of October we've been heading in a southerly direction. That will continue to be the case until the middle of next month. Generally all of our annual routes will head north in the spring and summer before turning around and heading south in the fall and winter. This of course is to avoid being caught in the temperature extremes of being too hot or too cold.

If you check out our STATS page you'll see that in our first 18 months on the road we've only had 12 nights below freezing and 61 days with 90 degree plus temperatures. So far this strategy seems to be working in our favor. Afterall, our home has wheels, so why not use them to our advantage.

FRIDAY - Blanchard Springs Caverns is 38 miles from our campsite, but it's the whole reason we stopped in this area. We made a reservation for the 12:30PM tour and arrived early to check out the recreation area that surrounds the cave. This is the only cave tour in the country that is led by a U.S. Forest Service Ranger. There are other caves located inside of National Forests, but the tours are led by a concessionaire who can employ just about anyone.

Having a knowledgeable person leading your cave tour really impacts what you take away from the experience. Blanchard Springs Caverns is listed as one of the Top Ten show caves in the U.S. and it did not disappoint us. The tour begins with a 200 foot decent in an elevator. When the doors open you are in a short hallway that leads around the corner to the first of three cave rooms you'll visit.

Keep in mind that most caves we have visited so far have bragged about how THEIR BIG ROOM is 300 feet long and 100 feet wide. Blanchard Springs Caverns first room is 1500 feet long, 300 feet wide and 100 feet tall. Not only that it is filled with formations of all kinds and sizes. We were led to a set of bleachers where we sat and listened to the ranger speak about the discovery and history of the cave system.

The second room was only slightly smaller but just as beautiful as the first. The walkway is fairly level throughout the entire Dripstone Trail Tour and best of all is the pricing. Only $12 for adults and $6 for persons with a Lifetime Senior Pass like I have. Most privately owned cave tours we've taken have been between $20 and $30 with no discounts for seniors.

I'll post our pictures here in a slideshow but they in no way do the cave justice. You'll have to visit it for yourself. Tricia and I both agree this tour is in our Top Three caves tour so far.

If you ever visit Arkansas and are even remotely are interested in caves, this is a MUST DO activity. There is even a decent Forest Service campground on site (no utilities) for $10 a night.


Our first look at Blanchard Springs Caverns in the massive Room #1
A manmade passage for easier access to Room #2.
A look at the ceiling of Room #3
Tens of thousands of soda straw formations
Amazing! Just amazing!


Blanchard Springs Recreation Area is located inside the Ozark National Forest.
Here are a few photos we took of the surrounding area.

A shallow cave just outside of the campground.

All the water running through the cavern exits here through Blanchard Spring.

Mirror Lake is a fisherman's destination for trout.

SATURDAY - This weekend we are camping on the Buffalo National River in the Buffalo Point Campground. Since this is a National Park Service campground we used my Lifetime Senior Pass to get a 50% discount, making it a very affordable $15 per night and that includes water and electric service.

With the river's water level being fairly low right now there weren't a lot of people floating the river and most of the nearby outfitters were already closed for the season. It was still a very pleasant and quiet place to stay.

A wide bend in the river known as Buffalo Point

Our campsite is just behind the trees on the right.

We struck up a conversation with our neighbors in the campground, Mike and his family of six, who were kind enough to share some insights as to what we might find at our next campground destination. Mike also made some recommendations for the next time we pass though the area. They are from Arkansas and have camped in many of the nearby parks with their large bunkhouse trailer. We shared our experiences of living full-time on the road for the last 18 months and we both had a few tips and tricks to share. It's not always just the campground that makes for a pleasant visit, most of the time it's the people we meet.

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