Kasie and I had a great Friday and Saturday together. On Friday morning, we left about 7:00 am and headed back East to go float the Current River, which is a part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. We arrived at Carrs Canoe Rental, near Round Spring, at 10:00 am, and they provided us and our kayaks a shuttle up to Pulltite campground and access, which would be an 11 mile float. Just after taking off from the campground, less than half a mile downstream, is Pulltite Spring, which is on the “wrong” side of the river. (There are no roads/access from the side of the river that the spring is on) There is no real access to the spring from the campground, unless the river is quite low, and you want to wade across the river. The best access is from the river, by floating right up to the spring branch, then hiking less than half a mile back to the spring. The spring was beautiful, and had plenty of water flowing out from it.
Next to the spring is a historic cabin, and the park service “plans” to repair and refurbish the cabin someday.
Just immediately down stream from Pulltite, there is a smaller spring located right on the river, called fire hydrant spring, which flows from a small cave in the bluff.
We stopped a couple of times to relax and once to eat lunch, but swimming wasn’t a high priority; the water was freezing! The Current River is largely spring fed, so the water remains very cold, even during the heat of summer. We did jump in real quick each time we would stop, but the cold water would make you immediately want to jump right back out! At one of our stops, there were dozens of butterflies hanging out on the gravel bar, and I experimented photographing them.
After arriving at our take out destination, we drove right across the road to Round Spring, this time to see the actual spring. It really is something to see, and the water was a beautiful turquoise blue.
After Round Spring, we headed up river to see a couple of other features along or near the river. The first was a sinkhole cave called Devil’s Well. There is a set of stairs that lead down to the top of the sinkhole, and to a viewing platform. A light switch is provided to illuminate the cavern over 100′ below, which holds an underground lake bigger than the size of a football field!
Next, we drove on by Akers ferry access on the Current. The ferry was closed for some reason, but we did not need to cross it anyway. Ferry were used long before bridges were built, and the Akers ferry used to be the only way across the Current River until 1975, when bridges were finally built across the river in other locations.
Next, we headed to Welch Spring. There is a short, 1/2 mile trail from the parking area that leads along the river to the spring. The spring emerges from underneath the ground at the base of a bluff cave opening, and actually reaches air, or the surface, before it reaches daylight, unlike most other springs. The ruins/foundation of an old hospital are located next to the spring.
After leaving the Current River area, we grabbed a bite to eat, then headed home for the day, arriving back at 10:30 that night. It was a long but great day.
On Saturday, we slept in a little bit, then got up, ran to Branson for a minute, then headed down into Arkansas. Back in the winter, we received free tickets to the Ozark Medieval Fortress, and decided that we would check it out today. The fortress is located just outside Lead Hill Arkansas, about a half hour drive from Branson. A team of people, including master stone masons, carpenters, reenactors, blacksmiths, and others are building a 12th century castle, using only 12th century tools and techniques, even wearing clothing typical from that area. The work they are doing is amazing, and it is a 30 year project that is expected to be completed by 2030. It will be neat to come back from time to time and see the progress being made. I love history, and rather enjoyed the exhibit.
Next, we drove on over to Yellville and grabbed a quick bite to eat for lunch. From there, we headed towards Mountain Home, passing through Cotter, Arkansas along the way. In Cotter, there is a spring just off of the White River that is a popular swimming hole, so we decided to stop by for a minute and check it out, plus grab a few pictures as well.
After there, we headed on over towards Mountain Home, then pointed south along AR Hwy 341, known as the Push Mountain drive, which winds through the Sylamore section of the Ozark National Forest. We were headed towards Mountain View, and had wanted to stop by the Ozark Folk Center State Park, plus take the tour at Blanchard Springs Cavern. It was getting later in the afternoon, and we would only have time to do one or the other. We opted for Blanchard Springs Cavern, since it was hot and humid out, and would be nice and cool in the cave.
When we arrived and purchased tickets for the next tour, we had about an hour until out tour left, so we drove around real quick to check out the spring that exits the rear of the cave and take a few pics. Then we drove through the campground and checked it out, and I do not think I saw one empty campsite.
Inside the cave, they would not allow me to bring along my tripod for my camera along the tour, so I had to try and take pictures handheld. They did not turn out very good, but I will post a few of them anyway.
When we finished our cave tour and left, it was 6:00 pm, and we were trying to make it to Jasper to eat at the Ozark Cafe. If you have never been there, it is a small little cafe located on the square in Jasper, and has been there for over 100 years. They have excellent food, and we try to eat there whenever we may be passing through around dinner time. From Blanchard Springs Cavern, there is no good, fast, straight way to get there (hey, it is Arkansas!). When we got to Hwy 65 and had cell service, we called them, but they said that they closed at 8:00. We would not be able to make it before 8:00, so we just drove on up to Harrison to get something to eat. We decided to stop at the Golden Dragon chinese buffet, trying somewhere we have never been before. I would not recommend it. The food was fairly good, but the restaurant overall was kinda dirty and run down, and was not appealing enough to warrant a second visit, in my opinion. I think next time, we will just try to make sure we leave enough time to get to Jasper before the Ozark Cafe closes, it is definitely worth it!