BEFORE LEAVING ARKANSAS I stopped to enjoy the Ozark National Forest on the Missouri border. This is the largest expanse of rugged mountains between the Appalachians and Rockies as I bid farewell to large forests of oaks, maples, and pines. These mountains are deeply eroded as rock outcrops give birth to many rivers. The region is rich with caves, rivers, streams, and lakes -- but any exploration will have to wait for another visit.
The Buffalo River flows here and was the first wild river to be designated by the United States Congress as a National River. This designation countered plans for proposed dams that would stifle free flowing water and disrupt the natural habitat. As a bonus, the park protects the home of the state's only elk herd and preserves a natural wilderness.
Working my way west, I follow the Arkansas River just as pioneer settlers did 200 years ago. Passing through Fort Smith, Arkansas, once a military outpost on the edge of the "Wild West." I'm now face to face with the once primitive Indian territory called... Oklahoma.
Miles 4300, Week 48, Weather 52F🌧