Winter eagle watching is popular in Arkansas.
Winter eagle watching is popular in Arkansas.

Great Destinations to Watch Majestic Eagles Soar

The bald eagle has been the national symbol of the United States since 1782 when it was placed on the Great Seal of our country. This American icon is revered for its majestic appearance, legendary strength and longevity, making it perfect for representing a nation. Those attributes also make it impressive to view in the wild.

While a portion of the bald eagle population in Arkansas remains in the state throughout the year, a significant number of these birds migrate from Canada and northern U.S. states to Arkansas during the winter months. Northern Arkansas is a prime destination because it offers an abundance of open water, food and shelter for these birds.

Peak months to watch eagles are December throughout February with January being Eagle Awareness Month. Bald eagles soar most when temperatures are rising. So look for them mid to late morning. Eagles also like to steal food so be aware of other birds feasting.

Here are some North Arkansas destinations known to attract these beautiful birds.

Several Arkansas State Parks offer eagle awareness programs.
Boating tours are popular for eagle watching.

Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge

Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge is known to have bald eagle sightings year-round, but they are more frequent during the winter and early spring. Visitors can take a self-guided auto tour around the refuge to view wildlife and habitats, take photographs, and hunt and fish during the respective seasons. Along the auto tour route are two hiking trails, numerous walk-in access trails, an observation tower, informational panels and kiosks. The refuge is located along the Arkansas River, 5 miles downstream from Dardanelle. It is bounded by an old oxbow lake that was created in the early 1950s when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cut a channel through the bend in the river to promote navigation and flood control.

Eagle Watch Nature Trail

The half-mile Eagle Watch Nature Trail leads to two pavilions along the lake in an area that is a favorite for the eagles. Built in 1999 on 65 acres of Flint Creek Power Plant property, SWEPCO’s Eagle Watch Nature Trail provides free year-round public access to the diverse habitat and wildlife at the power plant site near Gentry. 

Lake Sequoyah Trails

In Fayetteville, Lake Sequoyah is comprised of approximately 1,400 acres of land and 389 acres of water. Originally constructed as a water supply reservoir in the late 50s, today it serves as a city park for boating, fishing, nature watching, picnicking and hiking. The park has a boat ramp and a courtesy dock. It’s known for its plentiful bird population, including the American Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher and Great Blue Heron.

Northwest Arkansas Audubon Winter Bald Eagle Auto Tour

Drive this 23-mile-long route provided by the Northwest Arkansas Audubon through Benton County to see wintering bald eagles. Expect sightings of as many as 10 to 20 eagles, including adults and subadults. You can see eagles without binoculars, but binoculars make a difference in how well you can see them. No walking is required along the 23 miles, although there are places to stop and hike trails for the potential to see even more birds. You can stop anywhere along the route, and pull safely off the road to scan fields, sky, and tree lines for eagles.

Belle of the Ozarks

Instead of viewing eagles from a shoreline, look for them from a vantage point on the water. Cruise Beaver Lake aboard the Belle of the Ozarks while the captain and first mate point out eagles. Enjoy the scenery during a 12-mile relaxing cruise while you hear about points of interest from the staff. Bundle up because it’s colder on the water. Reservations required.

Arkansas State Parks

Several of Arkansas’ state parks serve as great areas to spot eagles and some parks offer guided tours. In north Arkansas, don’t miss the eagle cruises at Lake Dardanelle State Park in Russellville and Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area in Rogers. Bull Shoals-White River State Park in Bull Shoals sits on both a river and a lake that the birds find attractive. Find more state parks throughout Arkansas offering eagle-watching tours here -