The Buffalo National River – The Elk of Boxley Valley

What is it about people that, me included, upon spotting wildlife, we stop dead in our tracks, gawk, stare, and, of course, in spite of the danger, try to inch closer?

Okay, all of that IS true for me with the exception of snakes.  I’m more partial to the “just move it on along” rule where they are concerned.

But enough about snakes.  The wildlife I want to discuss is not a reptile, although I have nothing against them.  In fact, each year our front flower bed hosts a garden snake or two, and we had two pet turtles for several years.  They were released back to the wild in the pond next door when they outgrew their tank.

Sabi and the turtles on Release Day!

Seriouly….on to the story…….

A few years ago, our family spent the weekend at the Upper Buffalo River area.  We rented a cabin at Low Gap which is not far from Ponca and Boxley Valley, areas where the Buffalo River can be accessed.  This area, known as the Upper Buffalo River Region, boasts some great water for canoeing, but in the spring of 2012, Arkansas had experienced unusually dry weather, and floating was not an option.

So we decided to seek out some of the other unique aspects of this area, and among these are the Boxley Valley Elk!


It’s hard to believe, but elk were once native to our great state.  Unfortunately, they were hunted to extinction in the 1840’s.  They were reintroduced into Boxley Valley in the 1980’s. It was a cooperative effort between local landowners, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the National Park Service, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.  One that has produced great results!

 Hmmm…..Just imagine if more state, federal, and local organizations would be willing to cooperate…….

Anyway, Boxley Valley is located on Scenic Highway 21.  While heading north, the elk can usually be seen in the fields to the east.  The best time for elk viewing is early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and the cooler the weather, the better!


The late afternoon time was more to our liking, since our kids were in that “sleeping in” phase of life.  So after a full day of hiking (which I will talk about in later posts), we enjoyed at quick meal at the cabin, then headed for Boxley Valley.

Numerous cars were pulled over, a line of them near one of the popular viewing sights.  I marvel at the fact that folks who are driving along this highway, and don’t want to stop, slow down for their fellow nature lovers, and even stop to let them cross.  Whatever is on their agenda can wait, in Boxley Valley people just take things a little slower.

 We followed suit, parked the car on the side of the highway, and found a spot by the fence.  We saw several doe munching on the grass.


Sabrina’s enthusiasm over our elk sighting was hilarious!


One of the great things about the Upper Buffalo Region is that it has so many natural attractions, it’s very easy to have a good time, even if the river is a bit dry!


2 thoughts on “The Buffalo National River – The Elk of Boxley Valley

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