Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mt. Magazine State Park, Arkansas

We woke up to slight on and off drizzle. The big rain didn’t come overnight, but a quick check of the weather on Mike’s phone reveled that the storm was coming and it was a big one. We packed up, as we headed toward the town of Cabool the rain started. Today we were heading in the south – west direction, so instead of riding in to the storm we needed a place to hideout until the storm passed.

In town we found a pretty busy restaurant, usually busy means good. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of the restaurant sign and therefore I don’t know the name of it, but it was located next to the Dollar Store on BR 60 just east of 181.

My fluffy French toast

Mike did the breakfast buffet

It was raining as we walked in to the restaurant. We took our time and had a good breakfast. The skies were still dark so we went next door to the Dollar Store. By the time we came back out it was even darker, then it started to come down cats and dogs, so we went back in to the restaurant. By then the breakfast crowd was gone. We sat there for a while and talked to a guy who used to live in Chicago many years ago. Finally the worst of the storm had passed. It was still raining but nothing like before so we took off not wanting to waste half the day sitting around.

Watching our bikes getting wet from the restuarnt's window

Is the rain over yet?

The inside of the restaurant was really neat

181 south to 14 West to P to N to 5 South tp 95 Southwest to 160 West

We left Cabool behind. Turned on 181 South, the road was really nice, it had one tighter section but the rest of the road had sweeper type curves. This road also had some pretty steep hills. By the time we made it to 14, the rain had stopped and we took off our rain gear. 14 was a nice road too. We rode 14 last September and really liked it. We rode it from Ozark, MO to Ava, MO. Today we rode 14 west of 181 to just a few miles east of Ava. It’s a nice road. Instead of riding to Ava to catch 5 heading south, we took a short cut, P to N. Great views, although these roads were narrow and rather bumpy. From 5 we took 95 Southwest, I especially enjoyed this road. Pavement was good, the curves were nice and the scenery was awesome. 95 ran on top of a ridge, so the whole time we got to see great view of the surrounding scenery.

A big hill on 181 at 14

A bridge on 14 at 181

Smooth pavement on 14

Bumpy and narrow P

View of the surrounding hills from 95

160 was too twisty to take many pictures, here is a straighter section

160 West to 76

76 to 65 South to 62/412 to 392

Then we took 160, this road was much curvy then the rest, even though it was a major highway. There was also a bit more traffic on this road, and the closer we got to Branson the slower everyone seemed to be driving. We took a break once we reached 76. It was very hot now, and we still had some layers to take off. We were also very thirsty. We cooled off with drinks and ice cream and hit the road. There was more traffic on 76, then we jumped on 65 south and headed towards Harrison, Arkansas but before reaching the town we turned west on 62/412 and then south on 392. In Capps we turned on Creel Road, which took us to 43.

43 had smooth pavement

21 and some of the patched up pavement

65 South to 62/412 to 392 to Creel Rd to 43

43 was a nice road, with good pavement, curves and nice scenery. It was cooler here as we rode at higher elevations. The we turned on 21 and headed south. 21 has some steep sections and tighter curves, it was also narrow. At one point 21 and 16 become one road. We rode 16 back in September. It’s a great road, with a shoulder and awesome sweepers, so for the few miles that 16 and 21 ran together the road was wider with better pavement then 21 headed south and it again was narrow with tighter curves.

43 to 21 (also 16)

We stayed on 21 South until Clarksville

109 crossing Lake Dardanelle

Realizing now that we only had a few more hours of daylight, we kicked it in high gear. We really wanted to make it to the Mt Magazine State Park tonight. 21 was twisty and took a bit to get though, but 109 had some straight sections where we could make up some time. Not only did we loose a few hours due to rain this morning, but we had to ride in circles to find 109 and then a gas station.

109 was pretty cool, straight at times, twisty at other times. It was kind of flat here but we could see the mountains in front of us. Realizing that we were pretty close to the park, we wanted to stop in Paris and grab some stuff for dinner. We didn’t see any grocery stores so we stopped in at the Walmart but this wasn’t one of those big Walmarts that had groceries. We grabbed a few things in a hurry and continued.

21 South to 109 to 309 South

We found 309 in town and climbed to the top of the mountain. The sun was low on the horizon, the road twisted back and forth, the pavement so smooth and nice. Before we knew it we were being greeted with the sign “Welcome to Mt Magazine State Park”. We pulled over at the visitor center but no one was there, the ranger just happened to be passing by and told us the regular campsites were full and to go to the overflow campsite and pay tomorrow morning. The overflow camp site cost $9 and was actually really nice. The whole park was nice, and it was really cool to be camping on the highest mountain in Arkasas.

Dinner consisted of cold cuts, cheese and crackers, which we picked up at Walmart. We also got the tuna but we weren’t hungry enough to eat it.

There was also a slight chance of rain for tonight but we didn’t put the tarp on top of the tent thinking that as long as it wasn’t a downpour the tent would stay dry. We kept the fly unzipped tonight, it was very breezy tonight. Last night got a bit stuffy with the fly zipped up. The temps were very pleasant again, in the low 60’s. The only problem at this location were the bugs. There were so many of them. Many mosquitoes, but also so many other creepy crawlies, and the things I hate the most - spiders. The bugs were so quick, by the time we unzipped the door to the tent, got in and zipped the door back, at least 10 insects managed to get in to the tent with us. Plus a bunch already got in when we were setting up the tent.

After we got in the tent and zipped it up we went chasing bugs inside for a few minutes, especially the spiders. Even when the coast was clear I still had a hard time falling asleep thinking that once I fell asleep something would be crawling on me.

In the middle of the night the rain came. The fly was open on my side and by the time I realized the rain was falling some of the things on my side of the tent were wet. I unzipped the door, zipped up the rain fly, zipped the door to tent back up and again, bugs were already inside. Plus we discovered some that were already inside from before. A huge daddy long legs just above my head. Yikes! I had also attracted a huge month with my headlamp. It was a while before the tent was cleared of the pests and again I had a hard time falling asleep knowing that possibly we didn't get all the spiders out of the tent.

Perfect pavement on 309

Views of nearby mountains on 309

Sun hidding behind trees on 309

309 runs through Ozark National Forest and Mt Magazine S.P.

Mt. Magazine State Park Visitor Center

Our camp site at Mt. Magazine S.P. in the overflow section

Dinner is served


Jerry said...

We love that Mt Magazine area. Bummer about the rain. How much did it cost to camp up there? was it comfortable sleeping, it can get hot in Arkansas.

Great report


Mike said...

Great report...I'm really looking forward to your Nova Scotia trip as my business partner and I are headed there next year. If you have time to post your preparations for that trip, It'd be awesome. Thanks for the blog...I look forward to your posts

Anna said...


It was much cooler at the camp site, then on the road. The camp site cost us $9, but this was the overflow section. Not sure what a regular site costs.

It was one of the better State Parks that he have been to.