Mountain View, Arkansas
7/25/17 to 7/27/17
Monday 7/25/17 When we were in Arkansas a week and a half ago I was researching things to do. One interesting place I found was Blanchard Springs Caverns but we were running out of time and it was too far from where we were staying. So we decided to backtrack and head back to Arkansas after Branson. Blanchard Springs Caverns is in part of the Ozark National Forest. The closest town to the caverns is Mountain View with a population of only 2,860. This whole area is beautiful and Mountain View's slogan is "Your Place in the Mountains". The trip from Branson, MO to Mountain View, AR is only 115 miles but there are no main roads. When we left Branson we were on Route 65 which is a decent road. It snakes its way south-east through hills and valleys to the small town of Marshall. Once we turned off of 65 we were on a two-lane that ran through the Ozark Mountains. We were on this road for close to 2 hours driving around 35 MPH and sometimes slowing to 15 MPH to make it around some of the curves. It was quite a drive.
I had made reservations for three nights at a campground called Anglers Holiday Mountain Resort. One of the reasons I picked this place was that they accepted my Passport America Card which let me stay there for $15.00 a night. We had a hard time finding it and when we got near we pulled to the side of the road to check the map. We were in the middle of nowhere and there was no cell service so we couldn't call them or use Google Maps or Google Earth. One thing I'm afraid of is taking the truck and trailer down a road where there's no place to turn around. We found a very skinny road that we thought was the right way. As I pulled into that road I had second thoughts and stopped. I was just about ready to back up onto the main road when a guy in a pickup pulled around me. I got out of the truck and asked him if he knew where the campground was and he assured me it was down that skinny road. He was right. After about a 1/4 mile we found the campground.
This place is located on Swinging Bridge Road. But luckily the entrance of the campground is before the swinging bridge because it's a single lane cable bridge with wood decking. I don't think it would hold the weight of the truck and trailer. Once I got my site number at the office I had to do an S turn down a steep hill and over an old single lane cement bridge to the site. This campgrounds big draw is the creek that runs along the property. As we drove across the bridge we could see people swimming and fishing in the creek. They also have canoes and kayaks to use but right now the water is too low. The roads in the campground are dirt and gravel along with the trailer sites. It's a pretty large campground with around 100 spaces but probably only 25 were taken. They put us in the back row and our closest neighbor was about five sites away. Once we got set up we walked around to check the place out. It's not really a terrible place but it needs some work. The location is beautiful, next to a winding creek in a heavily wooded valley, out in the middle of nowhere. Our cell phones can't even pick up a signal. If you're interested in getting away from it all, this is your place.
After we got set up our air conditioner wouldn't work again. I started checking things out and I think I found the problem in our electrical cord. When we set up each campground has a power pedestal where we plug in for power. I have a 50 amp cord where one end plugs into the pedestal and the other end plugs into our trailer. It's a very heavy, thick cord and the way it plugs into the trailer puts a lot of stress on the connection. I bought a short 90° adapter that lets the cord hang down instead of straight out. When I pulled that plug out I could smell an electrical burning smell. Looking at the plug it looked like it it was shorting out and burning. I removed the adapter and plugged in just the regular cord and the air conditioner has been going strong ever since. Time will tell if that was my problem all along. I hope so. I was ready to replace the air conditioner which would have been very costly.
Tuesday 7/25/17 Blanchard Springs Caverns is considered to be the second most impressive cave system in all of the United States. This is the reason we returned to Arkansas. It's in the Ozark National Forest so it's run by the US Forest Service. There's a big difference in the cave experience between a privately owned cave and a government-owned cave. The first thing is the price. The tour at Blanchard Springs is only $10.00 because it's subsidized with tax dollars. The second is the entire complex. Before they opened the cave to tourists in 1973, they spent ten years and millions of dollars to improve it. The visitors center is beautiful. There is an elevator to take you to the beginning of the tour and a bus to bring you back from the end. The steps, railings, and lighting are all in great condition. This is a very nice tour with lots to see. We scheduled The Discovery Trail at 10:30. This tour is 1 ½ hours long and is 1.2 miles long. It's in the lower portion of the cave and has 700 steps. I agree it is one of the best caves we've been in. (And we've been in a lot). It was well worth the trip to the middle of nowhere.
After the cave tour, we rode around the area. The first place we went to was Blanchard Springs. This is where the stream that runs through the cave comes out of a rocky hillside. This water flows into Mirror Lake which was formed from a dam built in the 1930's. There's also remains of an Old Mill that was built around the same time. The park system built a very nice wooden walkway along the lake and dam.
Next, we took a drive through the park. We came across a tenting campground that you could only reach by driving through the creek. They have metal posts on both sides of the creek with measurements marked on them so you can see how deep the water is and if it's safe to cross. Since it's so dry we only had to drive through a couple inches. One of the popular recreation activities around here is wading and swimming in the creeks. Every time there was access to the creek from the road we would see families playing in the water.
Wednesday 7/26/17 We didn't have anything planned today and the temperature got up to about 96° so we just stayed inside.
Thursday 7/27/17 It's nice to get away from everything and the last couple of days we did just that. Northern Arkansas is a beautiful part of the country. Lots of hills, thick forests, and winding rivers. We really enjoyed our time here. Today we are headed back to Aux Ark Park in Ozark, Arkansas.
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