Off the beaten path escapes

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Camping at Bull Shoals on the White River
Camping at Bull Shoals on the White River

Off the beaten path escapes

Imagine a secluded, quiet retreat. A place where nature trumps technology and the only screens for viewing are the ones along your front porch. If this sounds like your ideal retreat, the Ozark Mountain Region is for you. With numerous cabins and cottages from trusted outfitters and lodging destinations, you can find a waterside retreat that suits your style and budget. Read on for a few finds on each of the region’s waters.

Buffalo National River

The Buffalo National River is one of the most popular and well-known destinations in Arkansas. With opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and tubing, it’s an outdoor lover’s dream. While there are options for primitive camping along the water, there are also numerous cabins and cottages that are perfect for a weekend stay if you plan to float just one day.

Many of the secluded lodging options on the Buffalo River are also outfitters, meaning they can rent you a canoe, provide a shuttle and more. Check out the range of options from lodges to rustic and luxury cabins at Wild Bill’s Outfitter. For family-size cabins and lodges for a group, try Buffalo Outdoor Center on the upper section of the river. In St. Joe, Buffalo River Outfitters offers canoe, kayak and tube rentals along with a wide selection of rustic cabins available for rent. Stay at Buffalo Camping and Canoeing, and you can also check out the Gilbert General Store that is located on-site. This business was established in 1901, is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and is a working museum today. If camping is the type of secluded vacation you have in mind, JB Trading Co. offers rentals and supplies in addition to campsites with a shared bath facility.

Buffalo National River Tyler Bend to Gilbert

Looking for a retreat that’s as beautiful on a snowy day as it is on a sunny, summer afternoon? Silver Run Cabins in Yellville, Arkansas, has eight options available for rental. Similarly, Deer Lodge Cabins has two cabins for rent along with on-property trails and ponds for fishing. If you’re traveling with a crowd, consider Azalea Falls Lodge. This property is located just a few miles from Boxley Valley, a site where elk can often be seen grazing.

If you’re looking for a retreat with amenities and even on-site activities or dining, options such as the Dogwood Hills Guest Farm, Horseshoe Canyon or Wilderness Rider Buffalo Ranch and Adventure Park could be for you. With horseback riding, the opportunity to gather fresh eggs on a farm and even ATV trails, these retreats are a way to reconnect with the surroundings.

Bull Shoals Lake

With clear, blue waters and a large footprint, Bull Shoals is popular for both boating and fishing but it’s also a great escape from everyday life. Book a stay along its waters for a serene weekend or week-long vacation.

Bull Shoals Lake Party Barge

For off-the-beaten path family friendly escapes, destinations like Turkey Creek Ranch Resort offer cabins along with fishing and swimming piers for a slower pace of life. Bull Mountain Resort has nine log cabins in a forest setting. The pet-friendly destination also offers lawn games and a pool along with stunning natural views.

If your idea of escaping it all includes being on the water, check out Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock where you can rent a houseboat and sleep on the lake. The owners also maintain Lighthouse Point Resort, which is located on one of the lake’s peninsulas.

Bull Shoals Lake House

Camping and RV spots in less-visited areas of Arkansas are also available on and near Bull Shoals Lake. At Oak Ridge Resort, you can choose from cabins and RV spaces while also enjoying an on-site pool and boat dock.

Norfork Lake

Get away from it all on the shores of Norfork Lake. A short drive from Mountain Home, Arkansas, this is a true hidden gem. You can boat, fish or even scuba dive in this pristine water. And, if you’re looking for a place to stay that has the charm of a country escape, there are numerous lodging options.

Norfork Lake Scuba Jordan Marina

Young visitors to Teal Point Resort will enjoy boating and swimming along with a playground.  Boat rentals and cabins are both available at Mockingbird Bay Resort and Blackburn’s Resort. Similarly, family friendly activities and lake access make Blue Lady Resort, Wagon Wheel Resort, Crystal Cove Resort and Hummingbird Hideaway popular choices for an away-from-it-all vacation. For cabins as well as RV sites, head to Hand Cove Resort.

Fishing on Norfork Lake

Other options include The Cove, which offers two private lakeview homes that are nestled in the landscape, and Whispering Woods. This property has 11 cabins for rent as well as an on-site restaurant.

White River

If you want to take in a bit of world-class trout fishing while you enjoy a few days away from it all, make the north central Arkansas portion of the White River your destination.

Guides at local retreats such as Stetson’s Resort, His Place Resort, Rileys Outfitter and Gene’s Trout Fishing Resort can help you find prime fishing spots while also giving you the space you crave to explore on your own. If you prefer, you can also bring your own boat and equipment. Gaston’s White River Resort, which offers lodging and guides as well, even has an airstrip, making it easy to fly in for a few days without accessing a major airport or traveling through a city.

Trout fishing at Gaston's White River Resort

For larger groups, try The Fisherman’s Lodge that boasts a conference center that can accommodate up to 100 people. For luxury accommodations, visit The White River Inn, an Orvis-endorsed, all-inclusive destination.

To find more secluded lodging options in the Ozark Mountain Region, visit the Places to Stay tab on their website, ozarkmountainregion.com.