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Northeast Fifty-Six Mountain View
Northeast Travel 0

Exploring Blanchard Springs Recreation Area Year Round


If you’re looking for a year-round destination that offers a little something for everyone, look no further than the Blanchard Springs Recreation Area in the heart of the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest. Just a few miles outside Mountain View, the recreation area is a source of adventure no matter the season.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

Springtime: The Great Awakening

As the temperatures start to rise, Blanchard Springs Recreation Area springs to life in the springtime (pun intended). Any snow we were lucky enough to get has melted, and the landscape transforms into a lush wonderland. The trails beckon you for a hike amidst the budding trees. Don’t forget your camera, as spring wildflowers and waterfalls are at their peak. Time your visit just right, and you will see the forest speckled with dogwood blossoms.

Fishing is also a fantastic springtime activity here. A fishing derby is held each June at Mirror Lake in conjunction with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s free fishing weekend. The North Sylamore Creek is teeming with rainbow and brown trout, and you can spend a leisurely day casting your line in the hopes of a great catch. Or book a guided trout fishing trip along the White River at Angler’s or Jack’s just down the road.

Summer: Splash & Swim

When the heat of summer arrives, the Blanchard Springs Recreation Area has you covered. A hike around the clear waters of Mirror Lake offer a refreshing retreat from the sun or you can cool off in the clear waters of the North Sylamore Creek. If you prefer staying dry, there are shaded picnic areas perfect for family barbecues.

If you’re feeling adventurous, consider exploring the underground wonders of Blanchard Springs Caverns. Guided tours lead you through awe-inspiring formations and cool temperatures that provide a break from the summer heat.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

Autumn: A Symphony of Colors

Autumn in the Ozarks is a sight to behold. The surrounding forests burst into vibrant hues of red, orange, and gold. The hiking trails become even more captivating, and you can embark on a leaf-peeping adventure. The Blanchard Springs Recreation Area offers a front-row seat to this natural spectacle.

Camping enthusiasts will find the campgrounds here especially enticing during the fall. Roasting marshmallows around the campfire, enjoying the crisp air, and stargazing under a canopy of autumn leaves – what could be better?

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

Winter: A Wonderland

While winters in the Ozarks may not be as harsh as in other parts of the country, they still offer unique opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. If you’re lucky enough to visit during a snowy spell, you can try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing on the well-maintained trails. The landscape takes on a serene and magical quality, and you’ll feel like you’re in a winter wonderland.

Blanchard Springs Caverns are open year-round, making them an excellent destination in the winter months. The cave’s constant temperature of 58°F provides a warm escape from the chill outside.

Year-Round Beauty and Adventure

In all seasons, Blanchard Springs Recreation Area offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a hiker, angler, water enthusiast, or just looking for a beautiful place to unwind and reconnect with nature, this spot in the Ozarks has it all. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the year-round wonders of Blanchard Springs – a true outdoor paradise! Find your favorite activity below to learn how you can tailor your experience to fit your interests.

  • Mountain Biking – The Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail is accessible from the Blanchard Campground, located a short distance past campsite #14. The access trail ascends towards the Jack’s Branch Loop, but do note that this particular spur involves a rather demanding ascent.
  • Camping – A small campground is available for tent and RV campers (up to 32 feet). The campground doesn’t offer any hookups but does have two bathhouses with hot showers and a seasonal sewage station for RVs. Open year-round, the campground does occasionally close due to high water.
  • Fishing – Mirror Lake is stocked with Rainbow Trout and includes a handicap-accessible boardwalk and fishing pier. North Sylamore Creek also runs through the recreation area and is a popular fishing spot.
  • Hiking – The North Sylamore Creek Hiking Trail passes through the recreation area and continues southeast to Allison or northwest towards Gunner Pool, Barkshed and Cripple Turkey. The trail is popular for both day hikes and overnight treks. The trail is linear, so you will have to turn around to come back to your car or arrange to shuttle with other hikers. Check out our tips for hiking with kids if you plan to hike with littles.
  • Nature Watching – Blanchard Springs Recreation Area provides ample opportunities for observing both wildlife and plant life. Abundant deer and turkeys inhabit the area, along with a variety of small creatures such as birds, lizards, and chipmunks. At night, you may spot and hear bats, owls, and raccoons, although most animals are typically reclusive, preferring to stay hidden. If you bring your pet along, please remember to keep it leashed. When it comes to plants, the district boasts an array of wildflowers, particularly during spring and early summer. Throughout the year, numerous ferns and lichens grace the landscape, and the area is home to a few rare plant species worth seeking out.
  • Picnicking – The day-use area offers a variety of picnic areas and grills for a fun meal in the wilderness. There are also two pavilions that can be reserved for use by larger groups.
  • Swimming – Summer visitors will often visit the cool waters of North Sylamore Creek throughout the summer to cool off. There is a seasonal bathhouse located near the pebble beaches, although no lifeguard is on duty.
  • Caving – Blanchard Springs Caverns is located within the recreational area and has several cave tours available year-round.


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Julie Kohl works from home as a writer and teaches art part-time at a local private school. A former Yankee who was "converted" to the south by her husband, Julie has grasped on to rural life in a sleepy, blink-your-eyes-and-you'll-miss-it town in central Arkansas where they raise chickens, farm hay and bake bread. Julie loves adventure and sharing it with her husband and son. They frequent the trails, campgrounds and parks of Arkansas, always on the hunt for new adventures and new stories to share. Learn more on her blog Seek Adventures Media.

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