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Ozarks Respite Awaits at Withrow Springs

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  • War Eagle Creek at Withrow Springs State Park

June 4, 2002

Ozarks Respite Awaits at Withrow Springs
By Jill M. Rohrbach, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Arkansas's 21st state park, Withrow Springs, provides a peaceful setting in the Arkansas Ozarks for camping and quiet river floating. A popular family retreat, the park provides unique Ozark flora and fauna and hiking trails for exploration. Withrow Springs is located about five miles north of Huntsville on Ark. 23. For more information, including upcoming events, call (479) 559-2593 or visit

Early settlers near Huntsville worked the land, living -- for the most part -- lives that would seem completely alien to the people who inhabit the area today. These groups separated by time and technology, however, do have something in common. They were, and still are, beckoned by the natural splendor of an area now known as Withrow Springs State Park.

Situated in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas, the backdrop for the 786-acre park is unspoiled wilderness beauty rolling over mountains and valleys. Withrow Spring gushes from a small cave at the foot of a bluff, spills into a pond, cascades over a ledge and meanders for about a mile before joining War Eagle Creek, the west boundary of the park.

The spring is named for Richard Withrow, an early settler who came west in 1932 from Tennessee and established the first gristmill in the area.

"Richard and his sons and their families homesteaded quite a bit of land around there," explained Joy Russell, editor of Madison County Musings, a quarterly publication of historical and genealogical information about Madison County. The upcoming issue will feature the history of Withrow Springs.

"Richard Withrow ended up with 720 acres of land when he died [in the early 1860s]," she said, adding he was a prosperous man for his time.

Withrow's gristmill was located near the park's campsites, and at until 1941 there was a schoolhouse located where the bathhouse now sits.

The park originally consisted of 320 acres which was given to the State of Arkansas by Roscoe C. Hobbs. "He donated it in 1962 upon the urging of his good friend Orval Faubus," explained Chris Marley, assistant park superintendent. (Faubus served as governor of Arkansas from 1955 to 1967.) Hobbs also donated land for the Hobbs State Management Area, which is located 10 miles east of Rogers.

Withrow Springs State Park opened in 1965 with a swimming pool, visitors center, hiking trails and campsites. "It's roughly the park we have today," said Marley.

However, the park has received upgrades, including, in 1997, the complete remodeling of the swimming pool, which is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Other amenities include three baseball fields, tennis and volleyball courts, horseshoe pits and a crossbow range.

On War Eagle Creek anglers fish for catfish, bream, perch and bass, and the creek also makes for great floating. Considered a Class 1 or easy level stream, Minton says it's particularly agreeable for families. The trip is six miles and takes about three hours to paddle. The creek is generally floatable from March to mid-June, depending on rainfall.

Many visitors to Withrow Springs use the park as a base camp to explore the surrounding area. The Buffalo River, the nation's first national river, is only 38 miles southeast of the park, and Eureka Springs, Fayetteville and Beaver Lake also make for prime day trips.

Withrow Springs provides three hiking trails, including the War Eagle trail which follows a bluff line and affords views of the surrounding valley and creek below. On the trail, hikers can venture about 175 feet alongside a stream into War Eagle Cave, which is home to several bat species.

Deer and foxes along with wild turkeys, groundhogs and bobcats, roam the park grounds, and wood ducks and river otters can be found in War Eagle Creek. Also in abundance are pileated and other woodpeckers and kingfishers.

The park has 25 camping sites, the majority of which have water and electricity. Thirty campsites with full hookups and a bathhouse are planned. The project will be funded by Amendment 75, also known as the Conservation Amendment. Arkansas voters in 1996 authorized a one-eighth-cent sales tax to benefit four state conservation agencies to help protect and manage Arkansas's conservation lands and historic resources.


Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, (501) 682-7606

May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
"Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism"