📷: Cover photo by Debbie Marie Photography
Although it might still be chilly out there, you can slowly start to feel spring in the coming breeze. You can also feel it as the Northwest Arkansas region begins to promote outdoor opportunities for locals and visitors. It is finally the time of year when we're starting to get a little more sunshine, some slightly warmer days, and people can go out once more to enjoy the beautiful Ozark natural landscape. Thanks to multiple initiatives in the region, there is a whole list of activities that will make you want to go out there and feel the first signs of spring. Check out all of the events and volunteering opportunities that the region has to offer!
Steel Creek Star Party
On March 2 at 7:30 pm, people will meet at the Steel Creek Campground at the Buffalo National River (about 3 miles east of Ponca, Arkansas) and experience the night sky along with Ranger Chris. Besides gazing at the stars without the disruption of city lights, participants will also be able to "[l]earn the ancient folklore behind the stars, planets, and constellations, and hear what Buffalo National River is doing to preserve the darkest night sky in the state of Arkansas."
Bats Over Boxley
On March 23 at 7pm, folks will join Ranger Lauren at the Boxley Pond to explore Cave Mountain Cave near Boxley Valley, which is "one of the most significant hibernacula in the southeastern United States for endangered gray bats." Visitors will be able to learn more about the bats as they fly by through interpretive commentary provided by the ranger. You'll even be able to identify different species with acoustic bat detection devices!
Friends of Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area
Ozark Plateau Trail
Hobbs State Park has several events coming up through the following weeks for people of all ages: from park weekly programs put on by park interpreters and outside groups to guest speakers, to special events, and much more. On March 16 at 12pm, come celebrate the Arkansas Arbor Day with Park Interpreter Chris, who will guide visitors through a kid-friendly, half-mile tree hike on the Ozark Plateau Trail. Participants will get to go home with a tree of their very own courtesy of the Arkansas Forestry Commission.
If you want to learn how to capture the one-of-a-kind moments you'll spend in nature at one of these events, on March 16 from 2pm to 5pm the Photographic Society of Northwest Arkansas will be hosting a Basic Nature Photography Class in the Hobbs State Park with a lecture by Mike Wintroath and Cleeo Wright.
Additionally, as part of the continuation of the Fun with Mother Nature series, on March 9 from 10:30am to 11:30am teachers will relate stories to kids, mostly between ages 3 and 6, about the surrounding nature followed by a craft activity.
Outdoors' Volunteering Opportunities
There are other ways to get the unique experience that Northwest Arkansas' outdoors has to offer while still doing your share in protecting the environment. What better way to make the best out of the outdoors than by giving back and becoming a volunteer? By helping out at the Hobbs State Park, you can enjoy the bountiful nature the state offers while still looking after it. The Hobbs State Park is offering volunteer workdays, where people can contribute to this largely undeveloped park: "Whether your talent is in writing education curriculum or grants, talking and educating people, building hiking trails, or surveying wildlife, we have an opportunity for you!" says Friends of Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area.
You can also volunteer at the Buffalo National River as a campground host, as they are looking for people to host at Tyler Bend and Buffalo Point campgrounds for the 2019 camping season. Live/work riverside in your camper or RV for any 90 day period from March 15th to November 15th, 2019.
And next month the Ozark Off-Road Cyclists (OORC) will host two Trail Love events. The OORC is a non-profit organization "dedicated to creating and maintaining sustainable soft-surface trails in the Arkansas Ozarks, giving greater opportunities for mountain bikers and outdoor enthusiasts to live healthy, active lives." This organization has accomplished important goals in trail stewardship, as it has partnered with many user groups, land managers, and businesses to preserve the environment for recreational experience. On March 2, you can volunteer by moving rocks to armor the new trails from 9am to 1pm at City Lake in Siloam Springs. Or you can participate at another volunteer trail-building opportunity at Lake Fayetteville on the same day from 9am to 1pm.
With so many things to do and places to go, there is plenty of reason to head out into the nature and make the best out of the first days of springtime. Whether it's volunteering or visiting a park, there's something for everyone in the great outdoors. Pick your next adventure from this list and explore the Ozarks this spring!