Back to Nature: Elk Conservacation in Boxley Valley

My Tuesday blogs are dedicated to experiencing the great outdoors. I feature anything from park events to Natural State destinations worth seeing. Join me each week to get back to nature.

Jill M. Rohrbach

I’m not really into all these newly coined words like “staycation,” and another one just showed up in my inbox – “conservacation,” meaning a vacation focused on conservation. But I do support the concept and am glad to see that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has named the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Ponca Elk Education Center and the nearby Boxley Valley elk herd as one of the top 25 spots in the country for viewing elk and their habitat.

The beauty of the valley itself always gives me a feel-good, peaceful spirit when I’m there. And when I see those majestic animals grazing in the fields or, just recently, lining the road as I drove through late one evening, my heart soars with a love for the experience of nature.

About 450 elk reside near the Buffalo National River along Arkansas highways 43 and 21 in Boxley Valley. They can best be seen at dawn and dusk. Just around the bend at Ponca is the elk education center, where you can learn about elk, other wildlife, and their habitat. Exhibits at the nature center outline elk history, biology and restoration efforts, and offer various activities for all ages, a hiking trail, gift shop and picnic facilities.

The center is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday, with the exception of holidays. It is open seven days a week during October. For more information on the education center, call 870-861-2432.

Whether it’s a familacation, romancacation, groupacation or individuacation, or what some still call a vacation, it’s a great place to visit for the elk experience alone or coupled with other activities in the area such as hiking and canoeing.
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