Elk River Basin - Recreation
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Leave No Trace - Every year, millions of pounds of trash are collected from our nation’s rivers, parks, and streets. The waters of the Elk River Basin experience heavy recreational traffic during the warm summer months.   If you visit a state park, river, lake, campground, or any other public place, remember to leave no trace of yourself by picking up your trash.

State Parks and Hiking Areas | Caves | Fish Hatcheries | Historic Sites & Museums
Fishing | Lakes | Horseback Riding | Campgrounds & Canoe Rentals | Golf Courses

Access Points

State Parks and Hiking Areas

Big Sugar Creek State Park - Big Sugar Creek State Park is located about five miles east of Pineville on County Road SE W24 in McDonald County, MO. This park has 2,048 acres of savannas, glades, and woodlands and offers hiking along the 3 - mile Ozark Chinquapin Trail. Big Sugar Creek State Park is still in its development stage, with future plans including a day use area and a canoe launch.

Buffalo Hills Natural Area - The Buffalo Hills Natural Area is a 340 acre preserve managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation. It is located 10 miles west of Goodman in McDonald County, MO, just off of Highway B.

Huckleberry Ridge State Forest - Located south of Pineville, MO, this hiking area can be found by turning north onto highway K about one mile south of Pineville and continuing another 8 miles on K highway. This area offers about six miles of trails.

cave.bmp (186306 bytes)Caves

There are 530 explored caves in McDonald County, MO. Caves are important to water quality for a couple of reasons.   First, the rock material from which caves are made allows water to pass through very quickly. Pollution can quickly travel a great distance underground through the networks among different cave systems. In addition, cave-dwelling animals are typically very sensitive to toxic materials, and introduction of such pollutants into their habitat could reduce their ability to live.   It is therefore very important to properly dispose of toxic materials so they don’t reach cave systems.   Some caves within the Elk River Basin are big enough to enable tourists to tour their depths by foot or even by vehicle.   Many caves are very small and can only be explored by professionals.

Blanchard Springs Caverns - USDA Forest Service.

Truitt’s Cave -Located off of Highway 59 near Noel, MO, Truitt’s Cave offers guided tours, panning for gems, a gift shop, and underground picnics. You can contact Truitt’s Cave at 313 S. Main St , Lanagan , MO.

Bluff Dwellers Cavern & Browning Museum - Located off of Highway 59, 2 miles south of Noel, MO, this cave system is known for its diversity of cave formations. Guided tours and a museum are available at the cave.

Old Spanish Treasure Cave - Located at 14290 N. Arkansas Highway 59 near Sulfur Springs , AR , the Old Spanish Treasure Cave offers guided tours, panning for gems and minerals, and a gift shop. Legend has it that Spanish conquistadors buried their treasure deep within the cavern over 300 years ago.   Although some evidence of Spanish presence has been found within the cave, the search for the treasure continues to this day.

Fish Hatcheries

Neosho National Fish Hatchery - Located at 520 E. Park St. in Neosho, MO, the Neosho National Fish Hatchery is the oldest operating federal fish hatchery in the United States. Rainbow trout, spoonbill, sturgeon, brown trout, and the endangered Ozark cavefish are raised at the hatchery.   Guided tours, picnic areas, and a 0.3 mile self-guided path around the hatchery are available to the public.

To view an article from National Geographic magazine about the Neosho National Fish Hatchery and the Ozark cavefish, visit the link at http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/10/1029_031030_ghostfish.html#main.

Historic Sites & Museums

Pea Ridge National Military Park
Located off of U.S. 62 east of Pea Ridge, AR, this National Park spans 4,300 acres. The park trails, visitor center, museum, and bookstore commemorate the site of the largest Civil War battle west of the Mississippi.   Fought on March 7th and 8th of 1862, the Battle of Pea Ridge was a crucial victory for Union forces.   The park also includes a segment of the Trail of Tears.

Newton County Historical Park
Located at 121 N. Washington in Neosho, MO, the Newton County Historical Park is open year around, Monday through Sunday, from 12:30 p.m.- 4:30 pm.   The park houses a one room log cabin built before the Civil War, the old Newton County jail, and a collection of regional artifacts.

Wal-Mart Visitors Center
Located at 105 N. Main in Bentonville, Arkansas, the Wal-Mart Visitors Center is in the same building as Sam Walton’s first Wal-Mart store.   Exhibits at the visitor center show the development of Wal-Mart stores and memorabilia from Wal-Mart founder, Sam Walton.  

Fishing -- Fishing licenses are required for those who are at least 16 years of age and can be purchased at many local bait shops, gas stations, local Wal-mart stores, and Bass Pro Shops.

Opportunities to catch smallmouth, largemouth, spotted, and rock bass are found in the Elk River .   Channel catfish, redhorse suckers, and northern hogsuckers can also be caught in the Elk River .   For more information about fishing prospects in the Elk River , visit http://mdc.mo.gov/fish/prospects/


Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees - The Elk River flows out of Missouri and forms the Elk River Arm of the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, a 43,500 acre reservoir located in northeast Oklahoma .   Built from 1938 to 1940, the Pensacola Dam impounds the Grand River flowing south out of Kansas to create this large reservoir. The dam was the first hydropower facility in Oklahoma and continues to produce hydroelectricity today. There are many recreational opportunities located at or around the lake.   For more information about the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, visit:

Horseback Riding

Ponderosa Trails - Located at 1305 Ponderosa Road in Pineville , MO , Ponderosa Trails offers facilities for horse riders, camping and relaxing.

Campgrounds & Canoe Rentals -- Camping and canoeing are popular sports in the Elk River Basin. They provide opportunities to see varieties of local plants and animals and to relax during hot summer days. Many local outfitters provide canoe rental and transportation back to visitors'  vehicles upon completion of floats. Campgrounds and canoe outfitters are listed below.

Sugar Island Canoe Rental
Pineville, MO
Big Elk Camp & Canoe
Pineville , MO
Three River Campground
Pineville , MO
Kozy Kamp
Pineville , MO
Eagles Nest Camp & Canoe
Noel, MO
Elk River Floats & Wayside Campground
Noel, MO
Shady Beach Campground
Noel, MO
River Ranch Resort
Noel, MO
Cowskin Canoe Rental
Anderson , MO
Hickory Creek R.V. Park
Neosho , MO

Golf Courses

Neosho Municipal Golf Course
Neosho, MO

Bella Vista, Arkansas, has seven golf courses. There are five other public or private golf courses located throughout Benton County, Arkansas.

Index | History | Agriculture | Non-Ag Activities | Recreation | Point Source Pollution | NPS | Plants & Animals | Water Quality | Projects & Groups
Physical | Hydrology | Climate | Drinking Water | Curriculum | 4H/FFA

Elk River | James River | Sac River | Spring River | North Fork Salt River

Missouri Department
of Natural Resources

Missouri Watershed Information Network (MoWIN)
Send comments to: mowin1@missouri.edu
205 Agricultural Engineering
Columbia, MO 65211
Phone: (573) 882-0085
Toll Free: (MO only): 1-877-H20-shed (426-7433)
Fax: (573) 884-5650

Page last updated August 26, 2008