Being born and raised in Arkansas I am proud to be a native of such a beautiful and natural state with the assorted mixture of terrain from breathtaking mountain regions to the hardwood bottom-lands located all along the numerous rivers and lakes. One place in particular that needs to be mentioned is the White River, National Wildlife Refuge. Located in the flood prone region of the White River this refuge is one of the largest bottom hardwood refuges in the state of Arkansas. This National Wildlife Refuge has been set aside to be sheltered from destruction and provides public use opportunities now and for our future generations.
History of the White River NWR
The White River NWR was established in 1935, to provide protection and a sanctuary for migratory birds. Other native wildlife such as the white-tail deer, black bear, bobcat and turkey that also live within the refuge are just an added fringe benefit for the devoted outdoor sportsman. The refuge is located along the flood plain region of the White River and runs nearly to the edge of where the White River and the Mississippi River join. The total length of the refuge is almost ninety miles long and ten miles wide at the widest point, which can be found by visiting the Mississippi River Valley.
The rich bottomland hardwood forest is home to three hundred lakes entwined with streams, bayous and sloughs that are fed by the White River. These waterways are filled with catfish, bass and crappie that can be caught by the use of trotlines or rod and reel. Some of the lakes, streams and bayous can be accessed by a boat or all terrain vehicles along certain designated trails. A user permit is required to be carried on any person on the refuge lands and waterways at all times, the permit are free and can be picked up at the local stores or the Visitor’s Center.
Primitive campsite areas are located throughout the refuge that can be utilized by tents or RV’s. Using a generator is allowed but must be shutdown at 10 pm; one must provide their own water since there is no water available at the camping areas. Some camping areas are located along the lakes equipped with boat ramps nearby for camper’s convenience. If you are looking for more secluded area there are some sites located deep within the forest where wildlife sightings are more frequent. You might catch a glimpse of a whitetail deer or a black bear traveling with her cubs through the woods while sitting around your camp site.
Several hiking trails are available to explore but one of my favorites trails that you must see is the Champion Cypress Tree Trail located near the Essex Bayou. This trail leads to the largest Cypress tree in the state of Arkansas that stands at a 120 feet tall and 43 feet around this tree is amazing. There are trails that can be accessed by all-terrain vehicles that are marked.
Hunting and Fishing
Hunting and fishing opportunities are available for residents and non-residents by purchasing the required license. Hunting rules, regulations and license information can be found on the Arkansas Game and Fish website if one is interested in the hunting opportunities available.
Whether you’re a fisherman, hunter or just love exploring the outdoors the White River NWR is a site to see, managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. I propose taking a GPS if you plan on exploring in the dense wooded areas on the refuge. Bottom-lands have a tendency to confuse people because of the terrain, sloughs, and bayous bear a resemblance to each other. Camping on the Refuge is recommended for the more seasoned type campers.