St. Francis River, paralleling Crowley's Ridge to the east, begins in southeast Missouri and meanders its way some 300 miles through the Natural State before joining the Mississippi River just north of Helena. Historic landmarks and natural Delta beauty abound from start to finish. The point where the St. Francis flows into the state marks the beginning of the Missouri "bootheel." A county-owned park marks the site of Chalk Bluff Civil War Battlefield (1863), a short distance from where the river enters the state, north of the town of St. Francis. Access to the river is available at St. Francis. One of the most interesting sections of the river extends some 30 miles along its course, east of Jonesboro. The massive New Madrid earthquake of 1812 created the St. Francis Sunken Lands. The river, and thousands of acres along it, dropped a few feet to create a wetlands region. A wildlife management area under the auspices of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission preserves almost 17,000 acres of the "sunken lands," but it remains interspersed with private land.
Access is west of Monette, east of Trumann and north of Marked Tree. No designated camping sites are located within the management area. The St. Francis River flows adjacent to the Parkin Archeological State Park (U.S. 64), which preserves and interprets an ancient Native American village. And, on the lower reaches of the river, the St. Francis National Forest. Situated among the rolling hills of Crowley's Ridge, north of Helena, the preserve (21,000 acres) was established in 1960 to protect the natural resources of the river and ridge. Storm Creek and Bear Creek lakes offer great fishing and camping. The Mississippi River State Park is under construction within the national forest. For more information about the region, call the Arkansas Delta Byways Tourism Association at 870-910-8080 or visit http://www.deltabyways.com.