Friday, September 28, 2007

Visit a Missouri Corn Maize

If you’ve never been through a corn maze or Maize as they call them you’re in for a treat. The Missouri Ozarks have spectacular Maizes. Before you get the idea you’ll be wandering aimlessly through someone’s cornfield think again. Many of them are professionally done.

There are companies who come and cut complicated mazes using GPS technology. These maizes make the photos of crop circles look like kindergarten scribbles. Precision Mazes have some fantastic designs.

Prices and amenities vary. $6-$12 dollars per person seems to be the norm. For that price some include hayrides, mini golf, pig races, slides, and tons of other stuff. Call or email ahead or check out their site to determine what extras are offered. Many open at the end of September and some can stay open into November. Again, check with the Maize staff for operating hours.

Plan to spend an hour or two or maybe more depending on the activities offered. Be sure to wear sturdy closed toe shoes and pants. These are fields after all. Sandals and short are probably not appropriate. If there are facilities they are liable to be portable toilets so be prepared.
If you take children into the maze be aware that many are “haunted”. Some of corn maizes will have afternoon sessions that are less scary for younger kids. At night they may make it scarier for the older kids. Also keep in mind that strollers may not work well on uneven ground.

It’s something fun to include in your Ozark travel plans. Stop by and enjoy a Corn Maize this fall.

Have a great trip!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Geocaching in Arkansas and Missouri

If you think you’re too old to hunt for treasure, think again. The hottest new thing to do on your Ozarks vacation is to go geocaching. To participate you’ll need a handheld GPS or a GPS cell phone. Ruffled shirts and eye patches are optional.

The caches can be anything from a virtual cache, which is a monument or landmark to an actual container. It may have only a log book and disposable camera or a souvenir item. Arkansas Parks actively promote geocaching and you may find coupons for an overnight stay or dinner for two in one of their caches. The prevailing rule about caching is that you should put something else in if you take something out.

Jeep has 8,000 Travel bugs hidden throughout the 48 states. These are miniature Jeeps with a tag attached. When you locate one, record the number on the tag and enter it on their website. Then move it to the next cache. Every month someone wins a new GPS. Keep an eye out for them while you're in the Ozarks!

If you want to place a cache of your own in a Missouri or Arkansas state park there are some rules and regulations. For starters, you have to apply for a permit. These are available on line. Arkansas allows caches in 40 of its parks. 11 are off limits. You’ll have to put an identifying label on your cache as well. It’s easy and fun and a great Ozarks travel memory.

You should definitely plan on making your own cache. Just make sure doesn't leak and if you have items inside that should remain dry you may want to put them in a Ziploc. It’s estimated that Missouri and Arkansas have around 3,000 geocaches each but they could always use another one. You can contact one of the websites listed below to register your cache.

Missouri State Parks Geocaching Policy

Missouri Geocaching Permit

To geocache in the Arkansas and Missouri Ozarks you’ll need GPS coordinates. These websites are a great place to start.

Arkansas Geocachers Association

Missouri Geocachers

Jeep Travel Bugs

Happy Hunting!

How to find your first cache

Learn about Geocaching

Monday, September 24, 2007

Boone County Heritage Museum: Harrison, Arkansas

The Boone County Heritage Museum is located at the corner of Central Avenue and Cherry Street in Harrison Arkansas. It’s open from 10-4, Monday through Friday, March –November. Winter hours are Thursdays only from 10-4, December-February. Admission is $2.00 for ages twelve and over.

This museum is a must see when planning your Ozark vacation. There are three floors of exhibits. On the first floor you’ll find the Railroad Room. It houses hundreds of items, including a lantern collection, antique telegraph equipment, railroad maps, and antique model trains. Old Model Railroader and Railroad Modeler Magazines are for sale at .25¢ each.

The Boone County Heritage Museum also has an impressive collection of information about the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Harrison is the place they originated from. There is an abundant amount of genealogical information for the area as well. If you are going with the intent of doing research you may want to call ahead of time. The collection is housed inside a meeting room and you’ll want to make sure it isn’t occupied. Call 870-741-3312 for information. They do have a copy machine available and copies are .15¢ each.

Copies of the Boone County Historian which contains genealogical and general information and Oak Leaves which reports historical Missouri and Arkansas Railroad information, are available in the gift shop for $3.00 each. You can search their table of contents online.

The Heritage Room has an outstanding clock collection, a hotel switchboard, Dogpatch memorabilia, and tons of other items, is located on the first floor as well. Get ready to see some unique items here. The Sons of the Confederates exhibit includes guns and bayonets, an inventory of Boone County Confederate gravesites, and much more.

The second floor contains an extensive collection of medical paraphernalia. There is a Civil War sawbones kit used for amputations, caskets, an operating table and hundreds more items. The Post Office insert from Zinc, Arkansas is in the Old House and Store Room along with many other unique period pieces. Check out the twine holder on the standup desk in the second floor hallway.
Everything about the history of Harrison schools is located in the School and Band room. Vintage uniforms for cheerleaders, band instruments, photo albums and much more. Don’t miss the parking meter display in the meeting room.

The third floor holds even more treasures. One thing I’d only ever seen on television. An antique permanent wave machine. Those ladies must have wanted curly hair really bad to be hooked up to one of those. There’s a portable embalming table and something else you probably haven’t seen in a while, a cigarette machine.

The War room displays uniforms, even a nurses Red Cross uniform. There’s a collection of personal photo albums and scrapbooks from veterans of WWII and the Vietnam War that were assemble by the students of Harrison schools. They include interviews, photos and copies of correspondence. It’s worth taking a little time to browse a few of these even if you’re not a researcher.

The Records room contains an exhaustive collection of photo albums, public records, scrapbooks, and family bibles. It would take weeks to go through it all.

Keep in mind, this is a three story building. There is no elevator. The bathrooms are on the bottom floor. No food or drinks allowed. This is probably not a place for very small children. These items are not behind velvet ropes and very few of them are behind glass. Many things are priceless. While they do not have an age limit, I’d suggest well behaved children of at least school age would benefit the most from a visit here.

You should allow a couple of hours to tour this incredible facility. Planning on doing research? Maybe you should make a day of it. There are a couple of good cafes on the square which is within walking distance when you get ready for a break. If you have any questions their staff is friendly and knowledgeable. The collection is constantly growing so don’t plan on visiting the Boone County Heritage Museum just once.

Have a great trip!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Jones Center for Families: Springdale, Arkansas

The Jones Center for Families is located at the intersection of Emma Street and Hwy 265 in Springdale, Arkansas. It was established by Harvey and Bernice Jones of JTL truck lines. It has a skating rink, gym, and indoor pool. There are meeting rooms, some with kitchens attached, a computer center and a play ground area. The cost of admission at this wonderful facility is good conduct.

They have the only regulation size ice arena in the area. Skates and lockers are free as well. You’ll need to bring your own lock for the locker. The rink is open year round and it’s as cold in the summer as it is in the winter so bring a coat, hat and gloves even if it is hot outside. If someone in your party would prefer to watch instead of skate they have the option of standing on the concourse looking through the windows or there are bleachers. The bleachers are inside the rink and it’s cold so they’ll need winter gear as well. You must call ahead to reserve tickets as they do have a limit on the number of people who can be on the ice at any given time. There are two sessions each afternoon each lasting 1 ½ hours each. Call 479-756-8090 ext. 101 to reserve your free tickets. You can pick them up at the desk in the main lobby.

So you don’t skate? Then maybe you’d like to take a swim. The Jones Center for Families also has an indoor pool, with a slide and a wading pool for the little ones. There is also an Olympic sized pool for lane swimming. If your kids are under 9 the must be accompanied by someone 15 or older, swim diapers are required where necessary and only proper swim attire is allowed. There are large dressing rooms, showers and lockers. Locker keys are available at the desk near the locker rooms. You will be expected to leave your car keys with the staff to ensure the return of the locker key. There are two sessions every afternoon and four on Saturday. If you haven’t picked up your tickets by the time the session starts they will give them away, so be on time. Tickets can be picked up in the main lobby.

In the food court a cafĂ© is open for limited hours. There are also vending machines. Ample tables are provided and it’s okay to bring in a picnic lunch or take out. Lots of people have birthday parties here as well. Large windows overlook the pool area if you choose to host a swimming party.

If you’d like to plan non profit event at the Jones Center or even a family reunion or wedding shower, they have free meeting rooms. Some of them are equipped with restaurant style kitchens. There also have audio/visual equipment that can be reserved. It’s a perfect place for a get together.

If you’re planning a trip to Northwest Arkansas, don’t miss a trip to the Jones Center for Families, in Springdale Arkansas. Your Ozark travel plans wouldn't be complete without it. They have so much to offer and it won’t cost you a dime. Only good behavior.

Have a great trip!

The Harvey and Bernice Jones Center for Families
Driving directions to the Jones Center for Families
Ice rink hours and policies
Swimming Pool hours and policies
Contact the Jones Center for Families

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mill Creek Trails at White Rock WMA: Fayetteville, Arkansas

If you like to trail ride on your horse, ATV or dirt bike, you’ll love the Mill Creek ATV Trails. If you’re riding horse back make sure he/she doesn’t spook easily. These trails see a lot of ATV and dirt bike traffic.

They are situated in the White Rock WMA (wildlife management area). White Rock is near Fayetteville, Arkansas and covers 280,000 acres. While most of the land is owned by the federal government there are a few privately owned tracts that are posted.

The Mill Creek Trail is 27 miles long but you have the option of three trails and four shortcuts so you don’t have to ride the entire 27 miles. Make sure you have appropriate safety gear. I’d recommend a boots, jeans, riding gloves and a lightweight long sleeved shirt, even in the summer. Or a riding suit if you have one. Of course you’ll want a helmet.

There is a shorter loop suitable for less experienced ATV and dirt bike riders but if you go on any of the longer trails make sure that you are at the very least a good intermediate rider. Before setting out make sure your ATV or dirt bike is in good condition, especially the brakes, and remember to top off the tank.

If you’re planning on riding horse back, be sure your horse is in good shape physically. These are tough trails. If they aren’t used to the exercise it can be hard on them. If the last exercise they had was walking in the fourth of July parade maybe you should consider taking one of the shorter loops.

If you chose to tackle any of the big hills, like Work Hill or Super Bowl hill you should be a very good rider. As far as Work Hill is concerned, I’d rather be going up than coming down. If you aren’t a confident rider you may want to let someone else ride your bike to the top and walk up.

There is no doubt the Mill Creek riding trails at White Rock WMA will keep you on your toes. There are lots of rocks, loose and embedded, downed trees, and muddy spots. You’ll have a good workout by the end of the day.

Don’t forget to pack water, snacks, and RV type toilet paper. While there are latrine style bathrooms at the trail head there are no bathrooms on the actual trail. Be sure you take your trash out with you and dispose of it in the cans provided at the trail head. This is a gorgeous piece of wilderness so let’s help keep it this way.

Have a great trip!

Mill Creek Trails, driving directions and trail map

Map of White Rock WMA

Information about White Rock WMA

Weather at White Rock WMA

Monday, September 17, 2007

Pea Ridge National Military Park: Rogers, Arkansas

The Pea Ridge National Military Park is located north of Rogers, Arkansas on Hwy 62. The 4,300 acre park commemorates the battle fought on March 7 and 8, 1862. It is open from 8-5 daily with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Days. The park also closes when there is severe weather.

The museum inside the visitors center displays, canon and other weaponry and artwork from that era. Also on display are uniform jackets worn by General Curtis. While in the visitors center you can watch a 28 minute film Thunder in the Ozarks which will give you an overview of the battle. The film airs every 35 minutes. Copies of the film are available on VHS for $10.00 and DVD for $12.00.

There is a well stocked gift shop in the center. A wide variety of books are available as well as period cookbooks and crafts for children. T-shirts and other souvenirs are for sale as well. A driving tour CD of the park is available for $13.00.

Entrance fees for the Pea Ridge Military Park are $3.00 per person, $5.00 per carload, and $15.00 for an annual pass. If you are interested an annual pass that will allow admission to all national parks is available as well as a lifetime Senior pass.

Kids can pick up a junior ranger guide at the visitor center. It outlines a scavenger hunt that includes the museum and the battlefield. They can link clues and answers to the guide and earn a Junior Ranger badge. If they’d like they can become a WebRanger. Just log onto

On the weekend nearest the anniversary of the battle. March 7 & 8 the park hosts an event. You will ride buses to the different stops. People in period clothing will be giving demonstrations. Firing canons and muskets as well as portraying the day to day functioning of the troops. You can call the park at 479-451-8122 after the first of the year for information on the date.

You can choose to tour the park three different ways. There is of course the driving tour you also have the option of a hiking tour or riding horseback. The park does not rent horses. The hiking trail is 7.5 miles so make sure you are properly equipped if you decide to hike.

When you purchase tickets you will receive a brochure that details information about each stop on the tour. There are also additional plaques at each stop. Plenty of parking spots are available along the way. Stops do have spots that will accommodate motor homes.

It’s best to bring a camera. There a wonderful views on the tour and you are likely to see several whitetail deer on any given day. The park estimates the deer population to be 250-450 and they are most likely to be seen in the morning and the evening when they feed. They will be working on reestablishing the quail population over the next several years.

The park service plans to rebuild the entire 17 miles of historic wormwood fencing in the park as part of their Centennial Strategy . It is their intent to restore the battlefield to its 1862 appearance. They have reopened five miles of the 19 miles of historic roads and five historic fields. Steve Black of the National Park Service stated that Leetown would not be reconstructed because they have no idea what it looked like. However, they are working with the University of Arkansas to find the sites of the buildings in Leetown and mark them.

There is also a 2 ½ mile stretch of the Trail of Tears inside the park. About 1,000 Indians fought in this battle. There were black and Hispanic soldiers fighting at Pea Ridge as well. If you’d like to find out more about whether your ancestors were involved in the Civil War, a database of 6.3 million soldiers is on the National Park Civil War website.

Most of the Confederate soldiers who died that day are buried in the Confederate Cemetery in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The rest were buried in a mass grave in an unknown location somewhere in the Pea Ridge National Military Park.

If you are planning on visiting the park, you should allow at least two hours to tour the museum, check out the gift shop and do the driving tour. And don’t forget your camera.

Have a great trip!