Who says the outdoor adventure comes to an end in Winter for the greater Eureka Springs area! Grab your friends and your binoculars and head for the hills for one of a kind Eagle watching excitement!
Arkansas is a mecca for eagle watching and the Eureka Springs region is the center for it . This is because of the large open waters of Beaver Lake, Table Rock Lake and rivers like the White River and America’s first national river, the Buffalo River. Following their food supply, bald eagles move south as northern waters begin to freeze and arrive in Arkansas around October making the state their home until around February.
Cloudy skies and chilly weather doesn’t seem to be the to best time for a day excursion on Beaver Lake but the guides say this is actually the best time to see Bald Eagles in the Ozarks.
Traditionally, Beaver Lake has been known to harbor the area’s largest concentration of eagles. Depending on winter weather up north, more than 200 have been counted around the lake in certain years.
The Eagle Watch tours are managed through Hobbs State Park, November through February and depart from Rocky Branch Marina on Beaver Lake. Be sure to call ahead to reserve your seats as the weekends fill up quickly! Also, because the tours run through the winter months make sure to bundle up; it’s always colder on the lake with the open water and wind chill.
Tickets must be purchased in advance at the park’s visitor center on Hwy 12 just east of the Hwy 12/War Eagle Road intersection. Adults $10.00 + tax. Children 6-12 $5.00 + tax. Tours depart Rocky Branch Marina at 3:00 p.m. For more information and to make reservations, call: 479-789-5000
Chances of seeing eagles locally improves considerably in the aftermath of big winter storms further North causing the eagles to migrate Southward.
Near his business at Trigger Gap on the Kings River, Ernie Kilman regularly uses binoculars to monitor a riverside roost that can be seen from Arkansas 221. He counts as many as 10-15 eagles by the evening.
The roost is located in a bluff-lined bend about a mile upstream from where Rockhouse Creek enters the Kings River. People report counting as many as two dozen eagles on the roost in a week.
Together, the two roosts located along about nine miles of river provide ample numbers of wintering eagles throughout the area.
The White River below Beaver Dam is another common gathering spot for eagles. They are best seen up close from a canoe but also are likely to be spotted from banks of public-access areas like Parker Bottoms.