If you’ve ever longed for an escape to the true beautiful middle of nowhere, Ponca is that place. Tucked into the mountainous upper Buffalo National River wilderness, this tiny town is surrounded by some of the most grand hiking and floating scenery in mid-America. From the pristine river that flows through it to the craggy, towering cliffs that rise above it, Ponca is your basecamp for splendid national park adventure right here in Arkansas. March through June, river paddlers enjoy jaw-dropping scenery and easy side hikes to places like Hemmed-In Hollow, which at nearly 210 feet tall, is the tallest waterfall between the Appalachians and Rockies.
Local outfitters can equip you with boat rentals and vehicle shuttles for a day of outstanding river adventure. Love to hike? Hiking is terrific year ‘round here, including the Whitaker Point and Lost Valley trails, which are two of the most scenic and beloved hiking adventures in the state. Love dark, starry skies? Book a cabin rental on one of the Ozark Mountains above Ponca for glorious views of the Milky Way, as well as stunning sunrises and sunsets. In autumn, enjoy gorgeous hikes or scenic drives through fall color. And, be sure not to miss watching Ponca’s majestic wild elk, especially in the fall when bulls battle and bugle for king-of-the-herd status. Whatever season you plan to visit, Ponca is the perfect place to get away from it all and immerse yourself in the beauty of one of America’s last true wild places.