Get to know Searcy County
Home to tiny towns and colossal national treasures, Arkansas’ Searcy County has way more than its fair share of natural beauty. That’s because it sits at the geographic center of the Arkansas Ozarks and Buffalo National River. Every year more than a million visitors come from all over the world to enjoy these core experiences that define The Natural State—floating the Buffalo, exploring the Ozarks, camping under the stars—and they find what they seek in Searcy County. There’s an incredible diversity of sights and activities in this remote part of Arkansas. So much so that you may need to see it to believe it, but here’s a guide to get you started.
Meet the towns
Finding your way around Searcy County means getting to know the charming little towns that make up the area and grant access to its most popular spots and activities. By temperature and by reputation Gilbert is the “Coolest Town in Arkansas.” Boasting a resident population of only 26, Gilbert is hugely popular for late summer river access, as are the towns of Pindall and St. Joe. The county seat, Marshall, is known as the “Front Door of the Buffalo National River” and is prime elk-spotting territory. For great aerial views of the Buffalo National River and the Ozarks, book a tour with Buffalo River Air Tours out of Marshall - the only fixed-wing air tour service in Arkansas. Leslie is the place to eat, with classic Americana cafes and farm-to-table sit downs. Outdoor adventure is an everyday thing at Witts Springs, home to the Richland Waterfall Welcome Center. There’s still more to discover in spots like Silver Hill, Harriet, Oxley and Snowball.
Buffalo National River
The main attraction in Searcy County anytime of year is the legendary Buffalo National River and about 48 miles of the river can be accessed here, with the little towns serving as access points with outfitters. Every season has its own activities. Late spring and early summer are the peak “floating” months—kayaking, canoeing, tubing, rafting, you name it. Swimming holes are a big draw during the hottest months. Fall means cool weather and trails! Hiking, gravel cycling, even horseback riding is amazing year round out here, and the views are spectacular. It’s hard to go wrong on some of the most scenic trails east of the Rockies.
Camping is also good in every season, from sleeping-bag overnights by the riverside in summer to cozy cabin stays in the winter. Buffalo National River is an International Dark Sky Park. That means when you look up, you’ll get the clearest views of the galaxy you’ve ever seen, and if you bring a telescope, you will discover just how far the view really goes. Want to catch your dinner? Look down, and you’ll see fish, LOTS of fish. That’s because the Buffalo is also a Blue-Ribbon Smallmouth Stream.
The Richland Creek Wilderness area just slightly west is where you’ll find more than 30 waterfalls. Stop in at the Richland Waterfalls Welcome Center in Witts Springs for information about them. You can also access the wilderness area through the town of Snowball a few miles north. Northeast of Marshall you’ll find East Maumee Falls, a 67-foot drop along the Buffalo River Trail. In wet weather, you can see the 53-foot West Maumee Falls a little further down the trail. Remember to dress for walking on slippery rocks and you’ll have even more fun exploring up close.
Hundreds of species of plants and animals can be found in Searcy County, and wildlife watching is a major draw to the area. Bald eagles, black bears, even elk thrive in this rich ecosystem. In fact, Searcy County is the “Elk Hunting Capital of Arkansas.” The bird population is equally interesting, and there’s so much diversity to see, from vivid little warblers to big, stoic herons. Fish are abundant too, less for sightseeing purposes and more for catching, especially smallmouth bass and some occasional brown or rainbow trout. Motorboats on the Buffalo are limited to 10hp, so kayak and canoe anglers can relax and safely focus on fish, not wake.
Why do motorcycle riders love the Ozarks? It’s not just the view. It’s the ride. There are few straight roads in the mountains—just mile after mile of twists and turns, forest canopy and open sky. Searcy County roads have all the switchbacks and scenery discerning riders expect in a great ride, plus some unique stops to make the trip memorable. From Marshall, riders can access the Growl & Lasso, which is 57 miles of pristine Ozark views and see signs that say things like “Crooked” and “Steep.” Two industry-leading agritourism destinations, Ratchford Buffalo Farms and Dogwood Hills Farm Stay, are also popular with riders. Ready for a meal? Leslie is a cafe town and dining is a delicious trip back in time. Keep the vibe going in Marshall at an actual drive-in movie.
Great North American Eclipse
If you’re holding out for something truly cosmic, well, you’re in luck. Searcy County sits within the path of totality for the 2024 Great North American Eclipse. That means you literally won’t find a better view on the planet. This much anticipated event will occur on April 8, 2024, and visitors are already well into making their plans to attend. Hurry to reserve your spot!
Planning Your Trip
There’s so much to love in Searcy County and planning your trip is easy. First, save yourself some time by knowing this—Searcy County and the town of Searcy, AR are in different parts of the state! Find more attractions, lodging, dining and all the details you need to plan your trip on the Searcy County website. Ready for an adventure?