Savor The Summer at Roaring River State Park

 

 

School may be back in session, but I am savoring the summer.

There are a couple of warm weekends coming up still and if you’re in the mood to take advantage of them I highly recommend heading to Roaring River State Park. It is a quick trip from NWA and easy to manage in a single afternoon. 

 

Pack a bucket if you have a car-sick prone child like me on board, the roads are windy to get there. But, once there, you’ll be smooth sailing. 

My family hit the road on a whim. Yes, it is unusual for our family of 6, we didn’t have a plan or snacks-but we hit the road hoping to figure it along the way. 

Finally, I have come to a place in my life where flying by the seat of my pants is ok. I like to test it out now and again. No longer do we longer need the diaper bag, toys, formula or baby food. I can pick up whatever I need on the road and that is a triumph in itself. 

So, because we  hit the road without planning… we had to stop at a general store along the way. Because, kids exclaim their hunger as soon as they buckle. Am I right?

The general store had plenty to  fill us up; we decided to forgo an actual meal and went for snacks and drinks  for the day. Because, if I am being honest, thats all my kids eat anyway….snacks. Might as well invest in gold fish now y’all,  the Benefield Boys eat them as a meal at least two times a week. 

As we entered our destination, cell service became a thing of the past. A river lined with fishermen and signs assured we were at the right place.  No cell service forced us over to the  first rangers office we saw.  We got the lowdown there. 

We learned all about day fishing licenses as well as trout passes-what bait to use and directions to  the main attractions. 

But first, we arrived just in time, 11am, to hit the amazing Beebe’s Roaring River Waterslide. Technically not inside the Roaring River State Park, it is just around the bend. 

A throw back to waterslides of the past and soft-serve ice cream whipped a mile high on a crunchy cake cone, Beebe’s is a well known and well loved destination for folks from Missouri and NW Arkansas. Locals and tourists flock to this cash-only family friendly spot on sunny days. Our day was a bit overcast-luckily it was open and not too crowded; it is probably best to call ahead to make sure everything is running as summer winds down. 

The single, wide and bright blue concrete slide winds it way down a sloping mountain and dumps its riders into a guzzling pool below. My kids ages 3-8 all loved it. (Lifejackets for littles recommended) 

There’s only one way down and one way up. Walking up the steep incline will tire out even the rowdiest child in no time. This alone is worth the $8 price of admission.

We stayed at Beebe’s a little over two hours. One hour sliding and the rest of the time drying off, eating ice-cream (and snacks) while  watching silly kids and crazy adults head down the slide. Pack chairs to set up a spot at the top- it is prime viewing and people watching for sure.

Around 1:45 we hit the next stop, which was actually inside the State Park, The Hatchery. This, my friends, is where they breed all the trout that swim in the Roaring River. It is quite the operation,  let me tell you. Fish are packed in little holding areas built from stone. You can feed them, watch them and check out the retired {huge} fish swimming happily above in the spring-fed holding pond.

 And, as we were lucky enough to find out, you can learn  about the process of trout breeding- from egg to full-grown fish during the daily Hatchery Tour starting at 2pm. 

Flying by the seat of our pants was working out. 

We made it right in time for the tour and my kids loved hearing all about the spring that feeds the roaring river, the depth of the underwater caves and the explorers of the land. Of course we learned lots details about rainbow trout too. But, admittedly, my kids favorite part was at the end of the tour,  when a big red bucket appears full of food for the fish.  Kids are allowed to throw the food in the holding pens by the fist-full. The fish clamor and splash about as they gobble down the bits of food. It is such a sight. Don’t miss it. But if you do, bring quarters for the self-service feeding machine. 

Next, we went on to the park’s Nature Center for a quick pet of some snakes and spiders. Here we enjoyed another learning opportunity, picked up more brochures and left full of  ideas and actual plans for our next visit.  

We saved fishing for last. Quickly we purchased kids day licenses and safety pinned them on their clothes for all to see.  Luckily we  remembered to bring our own poles,not so luckily it started to rain. But we  let the boys drop a line for a while. Mom and Dad assisted in tangles and hook issues while the kids happily cast for trout in the clear roaring river. 

No fish for us that day, but, that’s why they call it fishing and not catching, right?

There is always next time. 

 

 

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